“Latex Free” misleading according to the FDA

A “Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff” released by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) released today (March 11, 2013), outlines the problem with claims of “Latex Free” or “does not contain latex”. According to the FDA the problem is that “it is not possible to reliably assure that there is an absence of the allergens associated with hypersensitivity reactions to natural rubber latex” and “may give users allergic to natural rubber latex a false sense of security”

While the draft and recommendations only apply to FDA regulated medical products, the implication is clear for pretty much anything else, especially for products that are made in an area where latex is processed or used.

At this time there are no regulations requiring a company to state that natural rubber latex was not used as a material in the manufacture” of a specific product, because of the increasing awareness and widespread scope of latex allergies, many manufacturers are starting to write “Latex-Free” or “Does not contain latex” (or sometimes “natural rubber”) on the packaging of products that are made with silicone, nitrile or other non-latex items.

The FDA’s suggestion is that manufacturers change the statement to “Not made with natural rubber latex” in order not to lull users with latex allergies into a false sense of security which may adversely effect their health when even minute particles of latex protein shows up in a supposedly “latex-free” item.

Bottom line is that, if you have a latex allergy or suspect that you may have one, you need to be proactive about making sure that even items labelled as “latex-free” don’t give you a reaction.


Is the Superbug here?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) released a warning and method of operation last week to all health care facilities regarding antibiotic resistant germs that are almost impossible to kill.

The release outlined a rise in CRE (Carbapenem-resistant Enterobactericeae) germs in the past decade from 1% to 4% with 42 of the 50 states now having reported a case. Long-term care facilities were worse with 18% reporting a case of CRE as opposed to 4% in short-stay facilities.

The following infographic comes from the CDC CRE website:

Read more to find out what healthcare facilities need to do to curb and contain this growth.





GHS Got you scrambling? There’s help!

Unlike in the movies where exposure to hazardous chemicals result in mutation that give people superhuman abilities and powers, in real life exposure to hazardous chemicals results in adverse health effects (some of which can take years to show up) and, in many cases, death.

Because of this a massive undertaking entitled the “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals” (GHS) has been under way since the middle of last year (March 2012).

Essentially what GHS is doing is to replace the MSDS with a standardized system that applies across the different countries from which chemicals are being imported and exported to.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure where to get started?

The OSHA Hazard Communication page, dedicated to GHS will get you well on your way and should answer most, if not all of your questions.

You’ll find comparisons sheets between HazCom 1994 and Hazcom 2012, OSHA Briefs, Fact Sheets, Quick Cards, Downloadable Pictograms and a whole lot more.

 

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Is Barminco overeacting?

Fifteen mine workers who worked for Barminco in the Agnew gold mine in Australia lost their jobs earlier this week when management viewed them on Youtube doing the Harlem Shuffle, a “dance” that has gone viral over the internet in the past couple of months (just type in Harlem Shuffle to view hundreds of different companies, schools and individuals doing this “dance”).

The workers were also banned for life from any Barminco projects anywhere.

Some of the fired workers have been working for Barminco for over eight years.

The fifteen workers were, needless to say, shocked and devastated, claiming that they did nothing to endanger anyone because they kept their hard hats on, as well as the glasses and lamps required. They did admit, however that they broke the rules when they removed their long sleeves shirts.

You can read the full article on the Australian Mining website. To view the miners doing the infamous harlem shuffle video, go to youtube here.

Reaction to the firing has been mixed with some stating that there can be no room for goofy antics like these in a dangerous place like an underground mine, while others are telling Barminco to chill and get a life.

What do you think?


Severe Weather Preparedness Week- Dust Storms

Severe Weather Awareness Week

March 3-9

DUST STORM SAFETY

With high winds yesterday throughout our area and still drought conditions make it ideal for blowing sand and dirt. The visibility is also drastically reduced with the blowing dust. Sand Storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena. High winds lift dirt particles or, in the case of sandstorms, sand, into the air, unleashing a turbulent, suffocating cloud of particulates and reducing visibility to almost nothing in a matter of seconds. Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage, injuries, and deaths, and while they are most commonly associated with the Sahara and Gobi desert regions, they can occur in any arid or semi-arid climate. No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of sand racing toward you.

Dust storms often occur with strong outflow from thunderstorms. The strong outflow is produced when a thunderstorm downburst, which occurs when the core of a thunderstorm collapses, suddenly forces air and water toward the ground. The fast-moving air has nowhere to go, but spread out in all directions.

MOTORIST BEWARE!

A dust storm usually arrives suddenly in the form of an advancing wall of dust and debris which may be miles long and several thousand feet high. They strike with little warning, making driving conditions hazardous. Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions, creating massive pileups. Dust storms usually last only a few minutes, but the actions a motorist takes during the storm may be the most important of his or her life.

DUST STORM SAFETY TIPS

  • If dense dust is observed blowing across or approaching a roadway, pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible, stop, turn off lights, set the emergency brake, take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated.
  • Don’t enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it.
  • If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.
  • Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.

LIGHTS OUT!

In the past, motorists driving in dust storms have pulled off the roadway, leaving lights on. Vehicles approaching from the rear and using the advance car’s lights as a guide have inadvertently left the roadway and in some instances collided with the parked vehicle. Make sure all of your lights are off when you park off the roadway.

HEED WARNINGS

During threatening weather listen to commercial radio or television or NOAA Weather Radio for Dust Storm Warnings. A Dust Storm (or Sand Storm) Warning means: Visibility of 1/2 mile or less due to blowing dust or sand, and wind speeds of 30 miles an hour or more.

Heed dust storm warnings. Dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days under certain atmospheric conditions, so meteorologists can frequently predict the possibility of these storms. Tune in to local TV or radio broadcasts before traveling in hot, dry conditions, and consider rerouting or delaying your trip if dust storms are predicted. Roadside signs may also be available to warn you of dust storm danger.

Be prepared. If you are in a storm-prone area, carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, and bring airtight goggles to protect your eyes. It’s also wise to carry a supply of water in case you are stuck in a storm. Dust storms are usually accompanied by high temperatures, and you can quickly become dehydrated in the dry heat and high winds. Wear or carry clothing that covers your body to protect you from the sandblasting, and to keep you warm in case of the frigid winds of a winter dust storm, which can quickly lead to hypothermia.

Outrun the storm. If you see a dust storm from some distance, and you are in a vehicle or have access to one, you may be able to outrun it or detour around it. Some dust storms can travel at more than 75 miles per hour, but they frequently travel much slower. Trying to outrun a storm, however, is not advisable if you have to put yourself at risk by traveling at high speeds. If the storm is catching up with you, it’s best to stop and prepare for it. Once consumed by the storm, your visibility can potentially be reduced to zero in a matter of seconds.

Pull over. If you’re in transit and visibility drops to less than 300 feet, pull off the road (exit the freeway if possible), set your parking brake, turn off your headlights, and make sure brake lights and turn signals are also off. In many cases, if your exterior lights are on, other drivers will use the taillights of the person in front of them as a guide to help navigate the road ahead of them. If you are pulled off the road and are sitting there with your lights on, unbelievably, someone might think they can follow you and run right off the road or even collide with you! Turning your headlights off while stationed off the road, will reduce the possibility of a rear-end collision. If you are unable to safely pull off the road, keep your headlights on, turn on your hazard lights, slow down, and proceed with caution, sounding your horn periodically. Use the highway’s centerline to guide you if you can’t see in front of you. Pull over at the nearest safe spot.

Take cover and stay put. Do not attempt to move about in a blinding storm, as you will not be able to see potential hazards in your path.

If you’re in a house or sturdy structure, stay inside. If you can quickly reach such shelter before a dust storm reaches you, get there as quickly as possible. Close all windows and doors, and wait out the storm.

If you’re in a vehicle, roll up the windows and turn off vents that bring outside air in.

If you are stuck outside, seek out a large rock or other landform to protect you at least partially.

Get to high ground, since the densest concentration of sand is bouncing close to the ground, but only if (1) you can find a safe, solid, high point, (2) the storm is not accompanied by lightning and (3) there is no danger of being struck by heavier flying debris.

Do not lie in a ditch, as flash flooding may occur even if no rain is falling where you are. In the actual dust cloud, rain generally dries up before it reaches the ground, but it may be raining nearby, and ditches, arroyos, and other low-lying areas can quickly flood.

If you have a camel, have it sit down and press yourself against its leeward side. Camels are well adapted to surviving in dust storms.

If you’re in sand dunes, do not seek shelter right on the leeward side of the dune. The high winds can pick up huge amounts of sand very quickly, and you could find yourself being buried in sand.

Wear a mask. If you have a respirator or mask designed to filter out small particulates, put it on immediately. If you don’t have a mask, wrap a bandanna or some other piece of cloth around your nose and mouth. Moisten it a bit if you have enough water. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of your nostrils to prevent drying of your mucous membranes.

Protect your eyes. Eyeglasses offer minimal protection from blowing dust or sand, but airtight goggles are better. If you don’t have goggles, wrap a piece of cloth tightly around your head to protect your eyes and ears.

Shield yourself from flying objects. Cover as much of your body as possible to protect yourself from flying sand. In addition, while wind-propelled sand can hurt, a dust storm’s high winds can also carry heavier (and hence more dangerous) objects. If you find yourself without shelter, try to stay low to the ground and protect your head with your arms, a backpack, or a pillow.

Safety Tips: Driving In A Dust Storm

Dust storms are common in our area and usually occur between May and September. The most intense storms occur during the late summer months known as monsoon.

Dust storms can create dangerous, sometimes even deadly driving conditions and sometimes reduce visibility to zero. The area between Tucson and Phoenix is noted for being the only place in the United States to experience the “haboob,” a raging dust storm that travels across the desert at 50 to 60 mph.

AAA says drivers need to be especially careful when they get behind the wheel of a car and practice safe driving habits so they don’t find themselves “at one” with a large tree or worse, another vehicle.

If you run into a severe dust storm, reduce the speed of your vehicle immediately and drive carefully off the highway. After you are off the paved portion of the roadway, turn off your vehicle’s lights to ensure other cars do not follow you off the road and hit your vehicle. Wait until the dust storm had passed before getting back on the highway. If you are walking or riding your bike, get inside quickly or seek shelter.

If a dust storm strikes, use the same rules you would for driving in fog. Do not stop on the road, because cars coming behind you will not see you in time to stop. Instead, slow down and pull to the side of the road, turn off all lights and wait until it’s safe to resume driving. If traffic prevents you from pulling off the road, look down at the white lines on the pavement to keep the car pointing in the right direction, and drive very slowly, until the dust passes, which should only take a few minutes

Here are some other tips to help drivers safely maneuver through the Valley during a monsoon storm:

· Reduce speed and turn on driving lights

· Pull off the roadway

After you are completely off the traveled portion of the roadway:

· Turn off driving lights

· Keep your car radio on

· If you are on the freeway, leave the freeway at an exit ramp, if possible.

· Wait until visibility is at least 300 feet before re-entering the roadway.

· Heavy rain may follow the dust storm.

 

Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

keno@plateautel.com


March Workplace Eye Protection Awareness Month

March Is Workplace Eye Safety Month

More than 2,000 eye injuries occur on the job site every day and about one in 10 of them require missed work days to recover. Of the total amount of work-related eye injuries, 10 to 20 percent will cause temporary or permanent vision loss in the affected employees.

And, while many people think that eye injuries primarily occur in manufacturing, construction or trade jobs, nearly 40 percent of work-related eye injuries occur in offices, healthcare facilities, laboratories and similar environments.

Flying objects, tools, particles, chemicals and harmful radiation, are the causes of most eye injuries. And in many cases, implementing safe work practices and utilizing appropriate personal protective equipment could prevent them entirely.

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment each day. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90% of these eye injuries. Simply using the proper eye protection on the job could prevent thousands of eye injuries each year.

Two major reasons workers experience eye injuries on the job are because they were:

  1. Not wearing eye protection, or
  2. Wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of workers who suffered eye injuries revealed that nearly three out of five were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. These workers most often reported that they believed protection was not required for the situation.

What are the potential eye hazards at work?

Potential eye hazards against which protection is needed in the workplace are:

  • Projectiles (dust, concrete, metal, wood and other particles)
  • Chemicals (splashes and fumes)
  • Radiation (especially visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, and lasers)
  • Bloodborne pathogens (hepatitis or HIV) from blood and body fluids

Some working conditions include multiple eye hazards. The proper eye protection takes all hazards into account.

The best methods of eye protection differ for each type of hazard. The protector must be matched to the potential hazard. High risk occupations for eye injuries include:

  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • mining
  • carpentry
  • auto repair
  • electrical work
  • plumbing
  • welding
  • maintenance

The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace:

  • If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields)
  • If you are working with chemicals, you must wear goggles
  • If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task

Additionally, with so many people using computers at work and at home, complaints of eye strain, difficulty focusing and discomfort have become a common place in doctors offices.

One of the main reasons is although offices have marched into the age of technology, not much else has. People are still using the same lighting and desk configurations they had when using typewriters.

To mark March as Workplace Eye Safety Month, the CDC/NIOSH and American Academy of Ophthalmology has put together some tips to help us alleviate some of the eye problems modern technology has given birth to. They are:

  • Has it been a year or two since your last exam get an eye exam by your ophthalmologist, who can rule out the possibility of any eye disease. If you wear glasses or contact lenses you could simply need glasses when working at a computer, reading, or your prescription might need updating.

  • Screen distance you should sit approximately 20 inches from the computer monitor, a little further than you would for reading distance, with the top of the screen at 2 plus or minus eye level.
  • Equipment if possible chooses a monitor that has both contrast and brightness controls.
  • Reference materials keep reference materials on a document holder so you dont have to keep looking back and forth, frequently refocusing your eyes and turning your neck and head.
  • Lighting modify your lighting to eliminate as much reflections or glare as possible. If possible arrange your work station away from window glare.
  • Rest breaks take periodic rest breaks and try to blink often to keep your eyes from drying out. Use the 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes of typing stop and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Allowing your eyes to reduce the constant focus strain. Additionally, force yourself to yawn this can help moisturize your eyes.

Another thing to remember is that the forced-air heating systems can increase problems with dry eyes during the winter months. The usual symptoms of dry eye are stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, a feeling that theres something in the eye, excessive tearing or difficulty wearing contact lenses.

Over-the-counter eye drops, called artificial tears or saline drops, usually help, but if dry eye persists, see your eye doctor for an evaluation.

Why is eye safety at work important?

Eye injuries in the workplace are very common. More than 2,000 people injure their eyes at home or work each day. About 1 in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays to recover. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10-20 % will cause temporary or permanent vision loss.

Experts believe that the right eye protection could lessen the severity or even prevented 90% of eye injuries in accidents.

What are the common causes of eye injuries?

Common causes for eye injuries are:

  • Flying objects (bits of metal, wood or glass)
  • Tools
  • Particles
  • Chemicals
  • Harmful radiation
  • Any combination of these or other hazards

What is my best defense against an eye injury?

There are three things you can do to help prevent an eye injury

  • Know the eye safety dangers at work.
  • Eliminate hazards before starting work. Use machine guarding, work screens, adjust lighting to reduce glare or other engineering controls.
  • Use proper eye protection.

The protective lens above saved the employees eyes from certain blindness!

When should I protect my eyes at work?

You should wear safety eyewear whenever there is a chance of eye injury. Anyone working in or passing through areas that pose eye hazards should wear protective eyewear.

What type of safety eyewear is available to me?

Safety eyewear protection includes:

  • Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Face shields
  • Welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators

What type of safety eye protection should I wear?

The type of safety eye protection you should wear depends on the hazards in your workplace. If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields). If you are working with chemicals, you should wear goggles. If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.

What is the difference between glass, plastic, and polycarbonate safety lenses?

All three types of safety lenses meet or exceed the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) requirements for protecting your eyes.

Glass lenses

  • Are not easily scratched
  • Can be used around harsh chemicals
  • Can be made in your corrective prescription
  • Are sometimes heavy and uncomfortable

Plastic lenses

  • Are lighter weight
  • Protect against welding splatter
  • Are not likely to fog
  • Are not as scratch-resistant as glass

Polycarbonate lenses

  • Are lightweight
  • Protect against welding splatter
  • Are not likely to fog
  • Are stronger than glass and plastic
  • Are more impact resistant than glass or plastic
  • Are not as scratch resistant as glass
  • Are more expensive than Glass or Plastic lens

So remember – something as simple as putting on a pair of safety glasses can prevent serious eye injuries. These injuries are painful, cause many lost workdays and sometimes lead to permanent vision loss. So during the month of March, and year round, remember to wear your safety glasses!

Does safety eye protection work?

Yes, eye protection does work. The Wise Owl Program, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, has recognized more than 100,000 people in 2012 who avoided losing their sight in a workplace accident because they were wearing proper eye protection.

For more information on eye safety, email at info, visit the website at

www.preventblindness.org or call 1-800-331-2020

Information provided by CDC/NIOSH, American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Wise Owl program for Prevention of Blindness.

Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

keno@plateautel.com

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Guns and Lead Poisoning

You’ve taken the gun safety program. You always lock your guns and ammo away for safety and know how to safety handle firearms.
There’s still one issue, however, that you might not have been aware of.

Most bullets are made of lead and lead can result in lead poisoning. The problem is that every time you fire your weapon a certain amount of lead vapor is released into the air. When fired, bullets are subjected to very high temperatures and all unjacketed bullets will release lead vapor.

When firing outdoors, the amount of lead vapor that you might ingest is minimal but when you are firing at a firing range or when you are casting your own bullets that exposure may climb to unhealthy levels that can lead to lead poisioning.

Ingestion isn’t only through the lungs either. Lead vapor will slowly settle and can coat everything around. When you pick up the rifle cover that’s been sitting on the floor the whole time you could be covering your hands with it and then ingesting it through your mouth, nose or eyes as you wipe your face or handle food.

Safety tips to protect from lead poisoning from firearms:

1. Keep food away from where you are firing, especially when firing indoors
2. Use copper-covered bullets whenever possible.
3. Wipe down your equipment and bags with a wet wipe when done shooting (“wet” to keep the lead from just going back into the air) and dispose of the wipe in sealed baggie.
4. If you are going to fire indoors make sure that the ventilation system is not recycling the air but rather bringing in only fresh air.
5. Do not smoke or chew gum while shooting
6. Change your clothes right after you’re done shooting
7. If you shoot often, have your lead levels tested