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Health & Safety Watch: NSC Lists 7 Common Workplace Hazards

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Health & Safety Watch: NSC Lists 7 Common Workplace Hazards

Posted on 26 April 2018 by cradmin

The National Safety Council (NSC) employs a team of consultants who visit worksites to run safety audits. They have seen a great many different types of hazards, but a few are spotted over and over again. In the agency’s magazine, Safety + Health, three NSC consultants relate the top seven workplace hazards in hopes that you can correct as many as possible before an accident occurs or you are visited by OSHA enforcement.

  1. Heights – Falling hazards are the most frequently cited by OSHA. This includes not wearing fall prevention PPE, not having proper railings, improper ladder use and non-compliant scaffolding. It is also important to have a written fall protection program.
  2. Housekeeping – Many worksites have unnecessary clutter blocking emergency exits, electrical panels and fire extinguishers. Trash, clutter and spilled liquids can also create slip-and-fall hazards. Time could be set aside at the beginning or end of shifts for cleaning.
  3. Electrical – Although blocked circuit-breakers and electrical panels are common, another electrical hazard often seen are related to the overuse or improper use of extension cords. Extension cords can create both trip hazards and shock hazards, especial when daisy chained together.
  4. Forklifts – Just like standard trucks and automobiles, one of the leading causes of forklift accidents is distracted driving. When forklift operators try to work too fast, they start taking shortcuts, such driving with too large a load. It is critical for employers and supervisors to react with authority when such instances are noticed.
  5. Lockout/Tagout – Lockout/tagout looks great in a written safety program, but often, operating procedures are ignored. This usually occurs for three reasons: complacency, rushing and being unfamiliar with the equipment. Even if all procedures are followed, injuries can still occur because of faulty equipment.
  6. Chemicals – A control system must be in place for all chemicals purchased and used. In addition, each employee must know how and when to use these chemicals. Sometimes chemicals are over ordered, which leads to expired, unstable substances. Injuries can also occur when chemicals are transferred between containers.
  7. Confined Spaces – Confined spaces are extremely hazardous. Employees can get stuck, or they may be exposed to a dangerous atmosphere. In most cases, a permit is required to access confined spaces. This is where planning really pays off.

While the above list is not comprehensive, checking your worksites for these hazards can prevent injuries, illnesses and even fatalities. For further information and for a free safety consultation, contact federal OSHA, your state’s OSHA or another state safety authority.

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OSHA Campaigns for Heat Safety

Posted on 20 June 2017 by cradmin

111June is National Safety Month, which is organized through a partnership of the National Safety Council (NSC) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). As part of its commitment to workplace safety and in conjunction with National Safety Month, OSHA is campaigning “to keep workers safe in the heat.”

The Heat Illness Prevention Campaign was first implemented in 2011 to educate employers and employees about the hazards associated with working in hot environments. Each year, dozens of workers die and more than 65,000 others require medical treatment for heat-related illnesses. Moreover, 40 percent of these deaths are in the construction industry.

Excess heat is a known safety hazard, and all employers have a responsibility to keep their workers safe from or in environments with high heat and/or humidity. Employers who know that employees will be working in high temperatures should establish a full program to prevent heat illnesses, which would include all of the following:

  • Water, shade and regular breaks are made available.
  • New workers and those returning from time off should be given gradually increasing duties and take breaks more frequently to become acclimated to the temperatures.
  • Train workers to prevent heat-related emergencies.
  • Plan ahead for emergency situations.
  • Monitor employees for signs of heat exhaustion.

Use the Updated Heat-Safety App

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have teamed up to develop an updated heat-safety app for Apple iPhones and Android Smartphones. The app provides users with a simple interface that provides the information needed to keep workers safe in hot conditions.

It is a good idea to encourage employees to use the app when they know they are working in hot and humid weather to help them understand what protective measures are necessary to stay safe. The app also provides hourly forecasts of the heat index so that adjustments can be made to the recommended protections.

Heat-Safety Tips from Employers

Granite Construction Company has 113 locations across the U.S. and is one of the 25 largest construction firms in the country. This company uses several methods to keep workers safe in high temperatures, including all of the following:

  • Each supervisor is issued a portable canopy.
  • Workers are provided with evaporative cooling towels and shades that attach to their hard hats.
  • The OSHA-NIOSH heat app is monitored and recommendations are followed.
  • Training sessions on heat exposure are conducted.
  • Workers always maintain proper hydration.

Other companies, such as land of Lincoln Goodwill industries and Ballard Marine Construction, provide frequent breaks in the heat, offer earlier shifts during the summer, provide sports drinks on hot days and put up canopies with integrated water misters.

For further information on heat safety, visit the OSHA Web page on Occupational Heat Exposure or read the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidebook Climate Change and Extreme Heat: What You Can Do to Prepare.

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LEED v4 and LBC Now Recognize Sustainable Stone Certification

Posted on 25 October 2016 by cradmin

natural-stone-councilThe Natural Stone Council (NSC) – an association made up of the leading Natural Stone Associations in the country – announced its Sustainable Production for Natural Dimension Stone (ANSI/NSC 373) certification is now recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED v4 building certification program, as well as the International Living Future Initiative’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge (LBC) version 3.1. Design teams now have a clear path to ensure the stone they specify helps projects reach sustainability goals as outlined by LEED and LBC.

“Being named an approved program by the USGBC and the ILFI within Responsible Sourcing of Materials is a huge accomplishment for the stone industry,” says Kathy Spanier, NSC Sustainability Committee Chair and Director of Marketing at Coldspring, a Minnesota-based stone industry producer. “These achievements come as the result of tremendous coordination and years of cooperation among stone industry associations, environmental experts and additional stakeholders to further the awareness of sustainably sourced natural stone.”

The sustainable stone certification standard was established in 2014 by the NSC. The two main goals of the standard are to provide natural stone quarriers and fabricators with third-party verification of their sustainable practices and to give the building and design community confidence that certified stone is a sustainable material choice.

The NSC Sustainability Committee worked closely with third-party organizations to determine the sustainable footprint of how stone is quarried, transported and processed in order to align the ANSI/NSC 373 with LEED and LBC. In addition, ANSI/NSC 373 was developed using the consensus-based ANSI (American National Standards Institute) process and can be applied internationally with certification by a third-party certifier like NSF International.

“I attribute the success of the ANSI/NSC 373 certification acceptance to the Natural Stone Council’s early commitment and dedication to aligning with leading green building programs such as LEED and LBC,” says Jessica Slomka, manager, National Center for Sustainability Standards, NSF International, LEED AP BD C.

ANSI/NSC 373’s national and international requirements for environmental, ecological, human health and social responsibility in stone quarrying and processing will help satisfy the growing demand for transparency in the market.

“Natural stone rates high on an environmental scale. It is reusable, low maintenance, emits no VOCs, and is one of the most durable and most beautiful materials on the planet,” says Duke Pointer, Executive Director of the Natural Stone Council. “The ANSI/NSC 373 certification gives the market confidence they are using a material that has also been third party verified.”

LEED v4 and LBC Application

The LEED Steering Committee approved certification to ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainable Production of Natural Dimensional Stone as a “USGBC-approved program” third-party verification (full credit) in Option 1 of LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C Material Resources credit Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Sourcing of Raw Materials, provided that the facility and/or quarry operation has earned certification including either optional credit 7.2.1 (Ecosystem Boundaries) or 7.2.2 (Environmental Impact Assessment), and has made its scorecard publicly available.

In addition to LEED v4, the Living Building Challenge is advocating the Sustainability Standard for Natural Dimension Stone for Living Building projects using natural stone. ANSI/NSC 373 aligns within the LBC 3.1 Material Petal, in the Responsible Industry category.

The rigorous and voluntary certification standard including its companion Chain of Custody program is gaining acceptance among stone industry companies. In 2014, TexaStone Quarries, which operates natural stone quarries and a closely aligned fabrication facility in Garden City, Texas, became the first company in the world to achieve certification. Coldspring became the second to achieve ANSI/NSC certification of its headquarters, primary manufacturing operations and three Minnesota-based quarries. Additional companies have since certified, with more working to achieve certification.

For more information about ANSI/NSC 373, visit http://naturalstonecouncil.org/education-training/nsc-initiatives/dimensional-stone-standard/ .

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TexaStone Quarries Named First Company to Meet NSC Sustainability Standards

Posted on 19 December 2014 by cradmin

TexaStone Quarries, based in Garden City, Texas, is the first company to achieve the level of certified stone producer under new sustainability standards. The creation of the program – ANSI/NSC-373 Sustainable Production of Natural Dimension Stone – was completed earlier this year, following several years of development using the consensus-based American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. Achieving the voluntary standards allows six quarries operated by the company to receive “Gold” certification, and its closely-allied fabrication plant to receive a “Silver” certification. The certifications came after facility inspections and paperwork verification by NSF Sustainability. And, there are reportedly several other stone companies that have begun the certification process.

The ANSI/NSC 373 standards cover nine facets of a quarrier and fabricator’s operation, including water usage and recycling, custody and transportation, site and plant management, land reclamation and adaptive use, corporate governance, energy use and conservation, management of excess process materials and waste, safer chemical and materials management and human and health considerations. There is also an optional “innovations” standard. There also are chain-of-custody certification standards for stone distributors.

Four levels of certification are available for quarriers and fabricators: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Each individual entity can be certified individually. Transparent, credible standards and independent third-party certification are important to those in the construction industry seeking more sustainable stone products. This includes local, state and federal government agencies and others seeking to comply with U.S. Executive Order 13514, which sets a goal for 95 percent of government contracts to include products and services with sustainable attributes, as well as a U.S. General Services Administration standard for sustainable construction (GSA PBS-P100 facilities standards for the public building service).

There are 18 requirements under ANSI/NSC-373 with a total of 41 possible points. The more points a company earns, the higher designation it receives. The maximum points will earn the platinum level. Companies can upgrade to higher levels by improving in various areas of the program, and each facility must be re-certified every four years.

“The growing ‘green’ movement required us to develop standards that allow us to compare out products with others in the marketplace,” said Duke Pointer, Natural Stone Council (NSC) executive director. “Certification of TexaStone as a sustainable producer of natural dimension-stone products is a major milestone for NSC’s nearly five-year program to develop sustainability standards that dovetail with natural stone’s inherent qualities of beauty, durability and variety.”

“The industry wanted to identify how the stone was processed from the quarries and the processors,” said Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF Sustainability. “As the first to earn certification to ANSI/NSC 373, TexaStone leads its industry in adopting more sustainable practices that help its customers and organizations meet the continued growth in green buildings.”

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NSF, Natural Stone Council Develop Stone Sustainability Standard

Posted on 06 December 2013 by cradmin

NSF International and the Natural Stone Council (NSC) have developed NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone, touted as the first sustainability assessment standard for stone. It lays out criteria for sustainable development aspects of stone production while defining environmental requirements for stone quarrying and production.

NSC utilized NSF International’s technical expertise as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited standards developer to help create the consensus-based standard. When finalized as an ANSI standard it is expected to assist in acceptance of NSC 373 by trade and sustainability stakeholders.  NSF helped NSC through the consensus process by gathering and managing a joint committee comprised of key stakeholders to define and agree on criteria for the standard. The committee included stone industry trade associations, quarry and processing companies, NGOs, architects, and government, environmental advocacy, academia, green building and design groups.

Certification to NSC 373 by quarries and processors is the first step in the product certification process for natural stone. Full certification for stone products will be achieved through a combination of NSC 373 certification for quarries and processors along with chain of custody (NSC COC) compliance for the rest of the distribution chain.  The NSC COC program is currently in development and near completion.

“As products with sustainability claims continue to enter the marketplace, independent, third-party certification of products to consensus-based standards can help architects and specifiers make educated decisions about product selection,” said Duke Pointer, executive director of the Natural Stone Council. “NSC 373 provides a needed standard of excellence in sustainability for the natural stone industry and will serve as the first step of the developing NSC Chain of Custody program.”

“NSF International helped NSC establish a stone standard which includes well-defined environmental, ecological, social responsibility and human health metrics through a multi-stakeholder, science-based approach,” said Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF International’s Sustainability Division. “The criteria in this standard will help quarry operators and stone fabricators assess their internal practices, drive efficiencies and attain preferred status in their markets as the building industry continues to value sustainable products and practices.”

The NSC 373 standard is leading the transition to verified, more sustainably extracted and processed natural stone. This allows the natural stone industry to compete on a level playing field with other industries that already have sustainability standards and enables quarries and primary processing plants to demonstrate commitment to applying more sustainable approaches to development and corporate operations.

NSF International provides certification to the new NSC standard through the NSF Sustainability Division. NSF Sustainability will evaluate natural stone quarrying and fabrication operations in several key impact categories, including water, transportation, site management, land reclamation and adaptive reuse, and management of excess process materials and waste.

Certification to NSC 373 is based on point totals to achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level certification. Monitoring and periodic re-evaluation is required to maintain certification.

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