Tag Archive | "health"

Caesarstone Master of Stone

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Caesarstone Introduces Master of Stone Program

Posted on 02 April 2020 by cradmin

Caesarstone, manufacturer of quartz surfaces, has taken the lead on safety standards for the industry with the launch of MASTER OF STONE. The extensive program was created for fabricators and their employees and it focuses on issues of health and safety in the workplace with a special emphasis on creating a space free of the dangers of potentially hazardous Respirable Crystalline Silica dust, the root cause of Silicosis. Caesarstone is investing in its customers’ businesses with the MASTER OF STONE program, which will be free and available for use by anyone in the industry.

“We often hear feedback from fabricators around the world that safety guidelines can be complicated and confusing and that they lack knowledge about this issue,” said Elizabeth Margles VP of Marketing Caesarstone North America. “So we took on the challenge of making safety knowledge easily and clearly accessible to managers and employees in our industry by developing, among other means, a unique online Training Center especially for MASTER OF STONE. When dealing with the dust risk and its implications, we at Caesarstone are determined to become part of the solution by being proactive and leading the revolution to create a safer work environment for all.”

The MASTER OF STONE program formally launched on February 3, when the website and E-learning modules were released to all Caesarstone fabricators. The program will be available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Hebrew.

While Caesarstone has always had a robust training and communications program for its fabricator partners, MASTER OF STONE is the result of many years of research and development to create a new concept and communication language to help fabricators and their employees to learn about Health & Safety and Professional know-how in the most efficient way across various platforms with added value content for fabrication plant managers. The fabricators website is an accessible platform for safety and professional content, which enables the presentation of complex material as user-friendly content. It will have a responsive design for mobile and tablets.

All the information will be available via the Caesarstone MASTER OF STONE Training Center website (https://mos.caesarstone.com), where information, guidelines, methods and collateral will be provided to all who enroll. The registration process for the Training Center is simple—each fabricator will be issued a unique factory code for both registration and login. The system automatically sends an email each time a team member registers or successfully completes one of the modules. The website also features a safety guidelines video for fabricators detailing ways to prevent the creation of hazardous dust and how to protect themselves from it. As well as “Silica Dust Health Hazards & Protection” video designed to support fabricators’ efforts to keep their businesses completely safe, created according to OSHA 2018 regulations.

You may also be interested in this article: OSHA Revises National Emphasis Program to Reduce or Eliminate Worker Exposure to Silica

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OSHA Releases Alert and Guidance on COVID-19

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OSHA Releases Alert and Guidance on COVID-19

Posted on 25 March 2020 by CRadmin2

By now, we are all aware of the threat of the COVID-19 virus and what it means to quarantine, and OSHA has been working diligently to give employers as much information as possible to curb the spread of infections. Many states are now under “shelter in place” orders and have shut down many types of workplaces. Even though business has most likely fallen sharply since the outbreak, many types of businesses are still allowed to operate, including those that fall under the blanket industry of construction.

If your countertop fabrication business is still operating, it is important to follow the new OSHA guidelines to help reduce the rate of transmission. This is not only good for society as a whole but also for your specific workplace. Even one case of coronavirus infection among your employees is reason enough to shut down operations for the time being.

COVID-19 spreads primarily to others through water droplets originating from the nose or mouth during a sneeze or cough. However, you do not have to be in direct contact with the droplets to get infected. The virus can survive for several days on hard surfaces, and it is enough to touch one of these surfaces and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose for the virus to transfer.

According to OSHA, the spread of coronavirus can be mitigated in the workplace by following a few specific guidelines. All employers still operating should follow all of these practices:

  • Assess the hazards of viral exposure.
  • Evaluate the likelihood of exposure.
  • Implement controls to lessen the risk of exposure, including the use of physical barriers, PPE, social distancing, personal hygiene and frequent cleaning.

In addition to the above, OSHA recommends following general practices to help control exposure to the coronavirus:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content when soap and water are not available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose without first thoroughly washing your hands.
  • Maintain a distance of 6 feet from other co-workers, vendors and customers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control believes that by implementing a routine that includes all of the above tips, we can beat this virus and get it under control, but it remains to be seen how soon we will be able to go back to “normal.” COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in several ways, and some of the precautions we must take now may have to continue for the greater part of the year.

Whether or not you believe this pandemic is as bad as they say it is, OSHA is on duty and working overtime to ensure businesses that remain open are in compliance of all safety and health measures introduced by federal, state and local governments. Our contact inside Oregon OSHA has revealed that they are receiving up to 10 complaints every hour about unsafe work practices, and the administration is taking all of these complaints seriously.

Due to the situation and volume, some complaints may be handled over the phone with stern warnings, but for the most part, OSHA is operating as usual while taking heightened precautions. The health and safety teams at OSHA are gearing up for a swath of onsite visits to ensure employers are not endangering their workers. If you have not implemented full health-protection measures, their next visit could be you. All it takes is one complaint by phone or completed Web form to get a surprise inspection.

For more information on how you can protect yourselves and your workforce while remaining open for business, please see the OSHA publication Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 and visit the OSHA Webpage on COVID-19.

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Australia Silicosis

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Silicosis Scare Hits Australia, Calls for Bans

Posted on 10 February 2020 by cradmin

As of December 2019, confirmed cases of silicosis among countertop and construction workers rose to 260 across Australia, where countertops are known as benchtops, and some estimates have the cases at 350. The Daily Mail reports that Caesarstone was denied insurance coverage because of the silica content of its products, and some victims and lawmakers are calling for a ban of all quartz surfacing.

Because the cases have more than tripled over the last quarter of 2019 in Queensland, ABC News reports, silica dust is now more toxic than asbestos in Australia. According to Dr. Graeme Edwards, silica dust is five to six times more toxic than asbestos.

“Now that we’ve got bigger numbers, that figure is around 20 to 25 percent. So, between one in four and one in five people who’ve had extended exposure,” stated Edwards, speaking on the toxicity level. “It’s crudely of the order of five to six times more potent a problem.” Asbestos sits at 6 percent toxicity in Australia.

Even though Edwards believes silica is highly toxic, he does not support a total ban of materials including it because there is still insufficient evidence and, unlike asbestos, there are safe ways to handle silica. Laws are already in place to protect workers in Australia, but the problem is with enforcement.

“It is the failings of various parts of the system to apply the law that already exists,” said Edwards. “Every single case of silicosis is prima facie evidence of system failure. There was legislation already in existence to manage it but, clearly, it failed the workers of Australia.”

Braden Barnes, 34, is just one of those who has been newly diagnosed with silicosis in Australia, and he is outspoken in his support to ban products containing silica. His case of silicosis is so bad that he is no longer able to work after being in the business for more than a decade. In 2014, his illness was misdiagnosed, so he continued to work in the countertop fabrication industry.

“I kept going for a couple of years because we were starting to build a house, we just had a newborn,” said Barnes. “I know six of my friends that are being diagnosed. I know a few more that are in denial. They’ve built their life around the money they earn, so they don’t even want to get checked.”

One Australian law firm, Slater and Gordon, tells the Daily Mail that they have since a sharp spike in reports from countertop and construction workers that have now been diagnosed with silicosis.

“Under Australian law, manufacturers of products owe duties to consumers and end-users of these products to ensure that they are safe and that any risks they present are accompanied by appropriate warnings,” reads the company website.

Because of this sharp increase, the attorneys launched an investigation into the countertop fabrication industry last May. Shortly afterward, the filed a class-action lawsuit against major countertop fabricators.

“The point of the class action is to bring the manufacturers of the engineered stone to account for the very considerable injuries that the product is causing people,” stated Margaret Kent of Slater and Gordon.

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OSHA Begins Silica Rule Enforcement for General Industries

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OSHA Begins Silica Rule Enforcement for General Industries

Posted on 26 June 2018 by CRadmin2


While enforcement for the newly revised silica rule began some months ago for the construction industry, it just now started for maritime and general industries on June 23. The new standard establishes an 8-hour time-weighted average for silica exposure at 50 µg per sq. meter as the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and 25 µg per sq. meter as the action level (AL). Although, states have the power to create standards even lower than the federal minimum.

OSHA is offering compliance assistance until July 22 to employers who are making good-faith efforts to meet the new standard, and interim enforcement guide will be issued to employers that make a request until the final standard is set.

For now, OSHA has available the Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for General Industry and Maritime as a free PDF download. This guide discusses compliance methods, exposure level assessment, respirator use, medical surveillance and written exposure plans.

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Health & Safety Watch: Emergency Exit Compliance

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Health & Safety Watch: Emergency Exit Compliance

Posted on 24 May 2018 by cradmin

Many employers believe that it is enough to post a sign over a door and call it an emergency exit, but OSHA sees it otherwise. Emergency exits are officially known as Exit Routes and consist of three parts, all of which must be in compliance with federal laws and regulations.

  1. Exit access – This is the part of the route that leads up to the exit.
  2. Exit – This part provides protection on the way to the exit discharge.
  3. Exit discharge – The final part leads outside or to an open space with access to the outside.

Exit Routes by Number

Generally speaking, most businesses are required to have at least two exit routes for employees, but more may be necessary depending on the size of the building, number of employees or other factors that would not allow for the safe evacuation of the workplace. On the other hand, very small companies in small but open buildings may only need one exit route.

In order to determine whether “the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, or the arrangement of the workplace is such that all employees would be able to evacuate safely during an emergency,” OSHA refers to the employer guidance from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Life Safety Code and International Fire Code.

Key Requirements

The complete design and construction requirements for exit routes follow these key guidelines:

  • The exit access, exit and discharge must be large enough for all likely users to fit through safely. This means ceilings must be at least 7 ft., 6 in. tall and 28 in. wide. Additionally, the width of the exit and exit discharge must be equal in size or larger than the exit discharge in most cases.
  • Exit stairs to other floors must be closed by doors or partitions that indicate the safe direction of travel.
  • Exits must remain unlocked at all times, or a panic bar must be in place that locks the door only from the outside.
  • Exit doors must side-hinged and swing out toward the direction of travel if the area is designed to by occupied by more than 50 people.
  • Exits must be separated by materials that provide one hour of fire resistance for three or fewer stories and two hours of fire resistance for four or more stories.

Emergency Action Plan

All procedures for evacuation and the use of exit routes must be part of a company’s emergency action plan. Employers with 10 or fewer workers may communicate this plan verbally while those with more than 10 employees must have a plan in writing.

For further information, please read the official OSHA Fact Sheet on Emergency Exit Routes.

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Health & Safety Watch: Pacific Coast Safety Fest Begins March 5

Posted on 15 February 2018 by cradmin

OSHA is offering health and safety training at the annual Pacific Coast Safety Fest, which runs from March 5 to 9 in select cities. The classes are available to workers, employers, safety professionals and anyone with a general interest in health and safety issues. The presentations cover a wide range of topics including the following:

  • The latest news from OSHA
  • Recordkeeping
  • Health and safety programs
  • Hazard recognition and analysis
  • Accident investigation
  • General industry

Cities participating in the event are as follows:

  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles
  • Phoenix
  • Las Vegas
  • Oahu, Hawaii
  • Dublin, California

Specific dates and courses vary in each city, but all are low cost at an average of $20 per person per course. Registration is required and can be completed on the Pacific Coast Safety Fest website. All attendees receive credit for sanctioned Education Center classes and a certificate of attendance.

About Pacific Coast Safety Fest

Pacific Coast Safety Fest is sponsored by OSHA and hosted by the Region IX OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. The event first started in 2005 in Denver, Colo., as a collaboration between the OSHA regional offices, several construction associations, an insurance company and the Colorado State University OSHA consultation project, and it focused on fall protection issues. This first event was called Safety Fest of the West, which continues to this day, but several other factions were created, including Safety Fest of the Great Northwest and Pacific Coast Safety Fest.

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Health & Safety Watch: OSHA Extends Deadline for Electronic Reporting

Posted on 20 November 2017 by cradmin

According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA has extended the compliance date for employers affected by the new electronic reporting system to December 15, 2017. On this date, injury and illness data must be electronically submitted through the online Injury Tracking Application (ITA).

The original date for compliance was December 1, 2017, but OSHA is giving employers an additional 15 days to familiarize themselves with the new system, and it only affects those who are already required to submit injury and illness information.

In addition, the following states have not adopted ITA electronic reporting system unless the employer is under federal jurisdiction: California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Businesses with 20 to 249 employees must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A – Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, while companies with 250 or more employees must submit the information from Form 300A and Form 300 – Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.

The data due December 15 is for the 2016 calendar year. In 2018, affected employers must submit the required information for 2017 by July 1, and every year thereafter, the deadline is March 2.

The ITA currently allows for three types of data submission:

  1. Manual entry
  2. CSV file for single or multiple establishments
  3. API upload from an automated recordkeeping system

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Health & Safety Watch The Dangers of Lead

Posted on 23 October 2017 by cradmin

Since the time of the Roman Empire, societies have had a strong relationship with lead and lead-based products. However, we also have a long history with believing lead is harmless altogether or in small doses. The truth of the matter is that when introduced inside the body, lead is dangerous at even the smallest levels of exposure, and it is up to employers to protect their workers from this hazard.

Lead has been used for plumbing in the U.S. since the 1800s, and by the 20th century, more than 70 percent of mid-sized to large cities were using lead pipes. In the 1900s, lead was also used in many types of interior paints, and it was used as an admixture in gasoline.

All of these leaded products continued to be used until the 1970s when Philip J. Landrigan conducted a detailed study of lead poisoning in El Paso, Texas. Based on the results, the federal government enacted several laws banning lead from plumbing, paint, gasoline and food cans. Exposure limits were also set for workers in the country.

Because of these laws, blood-lead levels among U.S. adults decreased from an average of 13.1 micrograms per deciliter in 1976 through 1980 to only 1.09 ug/dl in 2012. The blood levels in children, who are more susceptible to lead poisoning, also dropped significantly. This drop in lead is now considered one of the greatest health achievements in the last 50 years.

Countertop Installers Risk Lead Poisoning

More than 23 different occupations risk exposure to lead. OSHA estimates that 804,000 workers in general industries and 838,000 workers in the construction industry are potentially exposed to lead. Because countertop installers also often perform deconstruction and remodeling where lead-based paints and pipes are present or work in close proximity, they are also at risk.

In addition, lead exposure is prevalent for anyone working in the manufacturing or fabricating of glass, copper and brass in addition to those who work with plastics and certain chemical finishes. Finally, lead has been discovered in ceramic bathroom and kitchen tiles, usually imported.

Why Lead Is a Hazard

Workers exposed to lead in the air or from buildings and materials on the job can risk serious, long-term medical problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and immune disorders. The body also stores lead in bones, where is slowly leaks into the bloodstream for years.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that blood-lead levels as low as 5 ug/dl are associated with decreased kidney function, and at 10 ug/dl, lead causes hypertension. However, thousands of workers continue to test at levels far above this threshold.

When lead enters the body, it creates a free radical known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). This unstable molecule is very reactive with normal human cells, and it may damage DNA and RNA and cause cells to die.

When lead is ingested or inhaled, it quickly enters the bloodstream and binds with red blood cells, which come into contact with all of the soft tissues of the body, including the brain, liver, kidneys and bone marrow. When it reaches the marrow, it is stored in the bones for decades, which is why symptoms of lead poisoning may not appear right away. The more a person is exposed, the greater the buildup and the risk of poisoning.

One of the greatest effects of lead poisoning is that it affects the developing brains of children, which may come in contact with lead dust on the clothing of parents or other adults who have been exposed. Children up to three years of age have the highest risk of suffering from long-term brain disorders, but the risk continues for children up to age six.

Signs and Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

  • Fatigue/Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Stomach Ache
  • Loss of appetite

Anyone who suspects they may have been exposed to lead should go to their doctor to have their blood tested, and if you are an employers, it is important to understand your responsibility to protect workers from lead exposure. If exposure exceeds 30 ug/cubic meter over an eight-hour period, you must comply with specific OSHA requirements to limit or prevent exposure.

SOURCE: Health and Safety Resource August-September 2017

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Reduce the Strain from Manual Material Handling

Posted on 21 September 2017 by cradmin

In last month’s Health & Safety Watch, we took a look at how material handling and storage strategies could lead to fatalities in the countertop fabrication industry, and this month, we are going to continue with this theme by delving into injuries from manual material handling.

It is a little-known fact that the leading cause of disabling injuries in the construction industry is overexertion. In 2016, overexertion accounted for more than one-third of workers’ compensation claims in “residential construction, heavy construction and specialty trades,” and most of these injuries are caused by improper material handling.

Lifting, lowering, holding, carrying, pushing and pulling unbalanced materials in an unsafe manner stresses the soft tissues of the body, resulting in overexertion injuries, but there are only four specific reasons why these injuries occur:

  1. Bending and twisting the back when picking up materials
  2. Holding materials away from the body or over the head for prolonged periods
  3. Repeatedly lifting, holding and moving heavy materials without taking breaks
  4. Holding materials too far from the body

To reduce overexertion injuries in the workplace, all you have to do is follow a few simple rules.

Manual Material Handling Dos

  • Decide beforehand where materials will go when they are delivered.
  • Store materials off the ground to reduce the stress associated with bending and lifting.
  • When lifting, bend the knees and push up with the legs for maximum strength and support.
  • Hold materials close to the body and within the “power zone.”
  • Lift heavy materials at one end and walk to the center to balance.
  • Whenever possible, use machines or equipment to move heavy materials.
  • Use proper supports and other equipment to hold materials overhead.
  • Use mechanical equipment to lift and lower heavy materials.
  • Take several short breaks when handling heavy materials.

Manual Material Handling Don’ts

  • Do not lift or carry more than 50 pounds without the help of other workers.
  • Do not carry materials while going up or down a ladder.
  • Do not lift or move heavy materials while standing on a ladder.
  • Do not support heavy materials on your head.
  • Do not twist the body when lifting or moving materials.

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OSHA Promotes Safe + Sound Week, Encourages Employer Participation

Posted on 19 May 2017 by cradmin

Save-the-Date_Web-badge_for-web-programmersThe Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), in conjunction with its state-specific partners, is promoting a new annual event known as Safe + Sound Week and encourages employers of all types to participate in the event June 12 to 18, 2017.

Safe + Sound week was developed to raise awareness about three core elements of effective safety-and-health programs:

  • Management Leadership – It is dependent upon company leaders to deliver the message about the importance of safety and health, and they act as a “visible presence” in the promotion of this message. Management formalizes and publicizes the program and the company’s commitment to its employees and the community.
  • Worker Participation – Providing workers with information and asking for feedback are essential in empowering them to watch for their own health and safety. Individuals and teams should be recognized for all the contributions made in the sake of workplace safety.
  • Finding and Fixing Hazards – All hazards and controls in the workplace are spotlighted and evaluated individually and as part of the safety program. These evaluations are made periodically to identify new hazards.

OSHA now has a Web page dedicated to Safe + Sound Week, and it provides information on Webinars, such as Showing Your Commitment to Workplace Safety & Health, scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, May 23.

The page also includes an interactive map of all the events being held across the country and gives an overview of the three steps to becoming an employer sponsor:

  1. Select activities that include at least one, but preferably all three, of the core elements of Safe + Sound Week.
  2. Plan and promote the event to ensure success with a variety of free tools, such as graphics and signage guidelines, communications essentials, social media tips and promotion ideas.
  3. Following the event, participating employers will have a chance to leave feedback and receive a certification of recognition, participant Web badge and other materials.

If you are interested in participating in Safe + Sound Week, fill out this short online application.

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