Are Phthalates Killing Us?

You might never have even heard about phthalates (my spell checker didn’t even know what they were) but they just might be killing you or worse. What worse than death? Well might you ask. Start by watching the first video below and then watch the second one under this one to find the answer to that  question.



Toys Safety this Christmas

Toys are supposed to produce joy, not injury. Unfortunately, mainly because people don’t pay attention to some basic issues, toys can sometimes end up hurting or even killing small children instead of bringing them happiness. Here are a few safety tips for toys:

Pay attention to the recommended age on the toy that you are purchasing. Many toys are simply not safe for smaller children because they pose a chocking hazard. If there are small parts that can be detached and swallowed they are simply not acceptable for children under 3 years of age.

Make sure that stuffed toys have sturdy seams and that eyes, buttons and small parts are firmly attached. Check your children’s stuffed toys regularly to make sure that these items are still secure and aren’t loose. Mend them if they are so that small children don’t choke on them.

Read the directions on the toys to make sure that you know how they are intended to be used. Instructions may also give you information on particular hazards to be aware of or guard against.

Make sure you teach your children how to use the toy properly and what not to do with it.

Make sure that toys with batteries are properly sealed up so that children don’t get to the batteries and swallow them. This has become a bigger problem in the past few years as batteries have gotten smaller, especially with the button batteries.

If you purchase toys from a second-hand store, make sure there aren’t any recalls on them. Stores that sell new toys would have pulled them from the shelves and they would no longer be available but thrift stores would not take the time to make sure the items that they sell haven’t been recalled. Thanks to the marvel of the internet it’s a simple as a couple mouse clicks. Go to to make sure the toys you give are safe.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, adhering to these basic safety tips should avoid most potential issues. Have a fun and safe gift giving season.

OSHA/NIOSH Hazard Alert on 1-bromopropane (1-BP)

OSHA and NIOSH have released a “joint” warning concerning a chemical that “has increased in workplaces over the last 20 years“, namely 1-bromopropane (1-BP).

According to the 7 page pdf warningExposure to 1-BP has been associated with damage to the nervous system among workers, and it has been shown to cause reproductive harm in animal studies. The chemical is used in degreasing operations, furniture manufacturing, and dry cleaning.

At this time OSHA has not set a PEL (permissible exposure level) but the warning refers to the level of 5 PPM that California has adopted.

Employers are required, by law, to make sure that all employees are aware of the dangers of 1-bromopropane which is ingested primarily through inhalation.

Learn more about how to protect from the hazards of 1-BP by downloading the OSHA/NIOSH warning.

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 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

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Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management

Here’s a great computer program to download! It’s the CHEMM, the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management.
What is it?

From the CHEMM website:

  • Enable first responders, first receivers, other healthcare providers, and planners to plan for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of mass-casualty incidents involving chemicals
  • Provide a comprehensive, user-friendly, web-based resource that is also downloadable in advance, so that it would be available during an event if the internet is not accessible

With an impressive lineup of names for those who were involved in developping it, the software won the 2011 Risk Communication Award from the Alliance for Chemical Safety. The software is available for Windows or Mac.

Spend a little time on the site as well. It has an impressive amount of information about understanding chemical exposure and risks, toxic sydromes, patient care guidelines, types and categories of hazardous chemicals and a whole lot more.

Don’t wait till you’ve got a chemical spills or events to try to figure out how to handle it.

Summertime Safety from A to Z


Clear skies, softball games, cool water and a family vacation, all images of summer at its best. Summer also presents many safety hazards, making it a good time review.

A ABCs of safety, Always Be Careful with Safety Awareness, safety is in everything we do,24 hours a day, building good safety habits and awareness will help save lives, prevent injuries and yet can be fun!

B Bees buzzing, wasp, hornets and yellow jackets all around. The best way to help keep bees away, wear light-colored clothing, wear no perfume or scented soaps and cover food while outdoors.

C Camping, Enjoy the outdoors and all it offers, but give someone your itinerary. Think carefully about your skill level, supplies and equipment needed for you adventure. Prepare early it will save you in the long haul.

D Dehydration, Make sure you drink plenty of water, recommended 8 oz every 20 min during rigorous activity. Drink before you start to feel thirsty, by then your body has already started to dehydrate.

E Epinephrine, if you have serious allergies to insect stings or food allergies, insure you carry medication with you.

F Food illness, Bacteria grows best in warm and hot temperatures. Everyone loves a picnic; remember to bring your cooler with plenty of ice. Dont let the food sit in the sun for long periods of time.

G Grilling, Barbecue meat to an appropriate minimal temperature to kill bacteria, (steak 145, hamburger 160 and pork/poultry 165 degrees)

H Heat Illness, Prevention, dress in loose, light fitting clothes avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day and remember to drink plenty of water. Heat Cramps are painful and Heat Stroke can be deadly!

I Itchy skin, Sun burns and chlorine will dry out your skin. Use plenty of lotion and sunscreen to prevent skin damage. Watch out for the poison oak and poison ivy while hiking too!

J Just minutes, it only takes a few minutes to heat the inside of your car in 90+ temperatures to reach lethal temperatures. Please, please do not leave your child or pet inside a vehicle alone for any reason!

K Keep your distance, lightning is dangerous during thunderstorms if you see it and hear thunder less than 30 seconds later. Seek shelter immediately. Get out of the swimming pools or water if storms are forming.

L Life Jackets, Smart attire for all boaters, New Mexico and Texas law requires all children under the age of 12 to wear a life jacket while aboard a vessel on the water.

M Mosquitoes, Pest they are, buzzing and biting. Use insect repellent containing DEET, or oil of eucalyptus. Remember they do carry nasty disease; we dont want anyone getting West Nile Disease.

N Noggin, yes that is slang for you head. Protect it, wear a helmet if you are riding your bike, skateboarding, in line skates or even riding your ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) or water skiing. Your brain will thank you!

O Open water swimming, it is not a good idea to swim alone, avoid canals and fast moving water.

P Poison Ivy/Oak, Itchy doesnt cover it. It is best to recognize it and avoid. Remember this rule: Leaflets of three beware of me

Q Quiz the kids, ask them who they are going to play with, what they plan on doing and wear they are going. Suggest less risky behaviors and is their play ground safe?

R Recreational water illness, dont swallow swimming pool water. Be aware of your kids at the pool. Drowning doesnt look like it does on TV; they go under and rarely are waving their arms for help.

S Sunscreen, use SPF of 30 or greater, apply liberally and reapplication every 1-2 hours, more often if involved in water activities.

T Ticks check everyone after you have been hiking in wooded areas or tall grassy areas. We dont want Lime Disease

U UV rays damage your skin, long term effects include skin cancer. Try and cover you head, skin and eyes. Wear only UV A and B approved sun glasses. It reduces potential for cataracts 20-30 years down the road.

V Vehicle Safety, heading down the highway, looking for adventure! We may all think we are born to be wild but lets make that adventure a safe and enjoyable one. Please wear your seat belts, it is the law.

W Window guards, Warm weather means open windows and kids always find the knack to locate the open window. Protect them from falls and injury install window guards on upper level windows.

X Be Extra vigilant, kids are out playing in yards, streets and your neighborhood. Watch out for the kiddos, they are distracted having fun not watching for cars!

Y Yard work; Wear your PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) you never know when a rock may fly up at your eye. It is always better to be safe than Blind

Z ZZZZs get enough before you travel. Drowsy drivers are just as dangerous as drunk drivers. Drowsy can be Deadly. Besides you will be able to enjoy your summertime adventures more if you are safe and sound!

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for ENMR·Plateau

Why wear eye protection

It seems anymore that we are told to wear eye protection for almost any and all jobs. Nothing wrong with that. I would rather be wearing eye protection even if the risk of eye injury is infinitesimaly small than not be wearing it when I need it and go through the rest of my life either blind or with only one good eye.

That being said, all eye wear is not created equal and in order to be properly protected, you need to identify the hazard or risk an eye injury even if you are wearing eye protection.

OSHA identifies five hazards when it comes to possible eye injury:

1. Impact – This is probably the first one that people can identify. There are a myriad of safety glasses out there in all sizes, styles, shades and shape that are designed to protect your eyes from flying objects. Additionally, depending on the work being done, faceshields or goggles might be a better choice (if, for example, you need to protect the whole face rather than just the eyes, a faceshield would be a better option).

2. Dust – Safety glasses have been found to be extremely ineffective in protecting against eye injuries where there is dust in the air. The dust particles simply flow under, around or over the lens and find their way into your eye. Goggles are the obvious choice in this instance.

3. Chemicals – If the hazard is a chemical rather than a flying piece of debris, safety glasses are not going to be adequate. A chemical splash might result in the liquid dripping down into the eyes in spite of the fact that the glasses protected against immediate splash contact. Chemical splash goggles and/or a faceshield would be the best manner of protection.

4. Heat – If the hazard is extreme temperatures, a heat shield, welding goggle or welding helmet is needed. If you are using a heat shield in instances of molten metal or chemicals that may splash, you will need to double up with a heat goggle under the heat shield.
Electrical arc flash is a good example of this type of application. Arc flash kits (like this one from National Safety apparel) come complete with a high heat faceshield because of the extreme temperatures generate by an arc flash.

5. Optical Radiation – Even the briefest of contacts with optical radiation or lasers can permanently damage the eye. In this instance, you will need special “laser eyewear“. Here again, not all laser eyewear is equal in protection. You will need to identify the filter type, the laser type, the wavelength, the lens color and the VLT% in order to get the correct protection factor.

Note: if you are wearing a faceshield that can be pivoted up, as most faceshields do, OSHA requires that you wear safety glasses or googles under the faceshiel. The idea being that the hazard might occur while the faceshield is in the “up” position.

Protecting Against Diesel Hazards

You see it every day, that black diesel exhaust piping out of the trucks going down the road. And there’s plenty that you never do see. Diesel powers a good percentage of heavy equipment, buses, trucks, earth-movers, etc…

Interestingly enough, considering all the vehicle emissions testing and EPA standards, there presently is no federal occupational health standard for diesel, only a voluntary one of .2mg/.3mg.

Carbon monoxide, phenol, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and small particles of soot and ash are the principle components of Diesel.

Any and all of the above can cause health problems such as headaches, nausea, lung irritation, asthma and possibly heart disease. The long-term effects of exposure to high levels of diesel exhaust has yet to be studied in depth so it’s difficult to determine what other health problems might be a result of diesel exhaust exposure.

Protection against diesel exhaust

  • If you work in enclosed spaces where diesel equipment is giving off exhaust, you need to be aware that you are at an increased risk (tunnel workers, miners, truck drivers, longshoreman, etc…)
  • Proper engine maintenance is crucial in reducing diesel exhaust (in the same way as proper maintenance of gasoline engines reduces CO exhaust).
  • Make sure that areas that have diesel equipment in them are properly vented; run exhaust of diesel machinery to the outside of the buildings
  • If your vehicle has a “recycled air” option for ventilation use when following a diesel truck or bus or when going through a tunnel or other enclosed space that might have high levels of diesel exhaust.

Unfortunately, the average person is, to a high degree, at the mercy of others when it comes to the amount of diesel exhaust he or she inhales on a daily basis but you can complain to companies whose trucks give off huge clouds of diesel exhaust. If enough people complain, they might tune up the truck to reduce the exhaust.

For more information on diesel exhaust, check out the diesel exhaust page on the OSHA website.


Unsafe Conditions – The Deadly Dozen # 11

11. Hazardous atmospheric conditions

Confined Space monitoring, Respiratory protection, air sampling, particulate count… all of these have to do with hazardous atmospheric conditions. Man was meant to breathe clean, pure air, not contaminated air. Unfortunately, the workplace is often not the place for clean air. Whether we are talking about particulates in the air that have the potential for explosion (see our posts on the dust explosion at imperial sugar) or airborne contaminants that are harmful when inhaled (See our recent post on the 16 new chemicals added to the toxic list, for example) it’s not surprising to find today’s unsafe condition in the top 12 “deadly dozen”. Unfortunately workers are often unaware of the hazards that they are being exposed to. Many substances are odorless and undetectable except through careful and regular monitoring.

The Fix

While the solution is essentially simple “Make sure that the air you are breathing is pure!” the practical application isn’t. Detecting and regulating the purity of the air can be somewhat problematic and difficult. Because working conditions change so often (new chemicals are brought in, leaks occur, dust settles, etc…) an air sample taken one minute might be dramatically different from one taken just a few minutes later. There is no simple, easy answer then to the question of clean air. The only answer is continual awareness.

Have conditions changed? Has a new chemical been brought in? Is anything happening that might cause an oxygen deficiency?

Understanding how and why air can become contaminated is important in knowing when a potential hazard might exist. Monitoring the air quality then becomes important in order to access the levels of contaminants in order to protect adequately.

For more information on respiratory protection, see do a quick search in the search field at the top of this page using terms such as “respiratory” or “air monitoring”.