U.S. Labor Department to Provide Immediate Grants and Assistance for Hurricane Irma Recovery Efforts

“The U.S. Department of Labor, in cooperation with state and local partners, is setting aside funding and will be making grants to assess workforce needs in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, and other states in response to Hurricane Irma. The Department will continue to work cooperatively with states and territories to assess needs as they develop and respond accordingly. U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has directed the Department to assist the residents and businesses in affected areas. The Department has taken the steps set forth below.”

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Arkansas Amputation Stand-Down Scheduled for Sept. 14-30

“The Arkansas Amputation Prevention Stand-Down, Sept. 14-30, invites employers and workers to pause during their workday and focus on best practices to avoid amputation hazards. The stand-down, now in its third year, aims to raise awareness about preventing debilitating amputation injuries. A free, public kick-off event will be held Sept. 13 in Little Rock. A website is available for employers and workers to sign up for the stand-down, access posters and other resources, record their data, and print a certificate of participation.”

NY Suspends Road and Bridge Construction Lane Closures for Labor Day Weekend

“Lane closures for road and bridge construction projects on New York state’s highways will be suspended for the Labor Day weekend — specifically from 6 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1 until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Aug. 30. He said the suspension accommodates travelers during the busy Labor Day holiday weekend, and that most construction projects will be suspended but some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers or for emergency repairs. He also urged drivers to abide by New York’s Move Over Law and use one of 64 text stops located across the state for texting, making phone calls, and other non-driving activities.

“As we approach the busy holiday weekend, we are taking every step we can to ease congestion and help ensure motorists are able to get where they need to go with as little delay as possible,” he said. “As we suspend construction-related lane closures across the state, I urge all drivers this Labor Day weekend to keep their eyes on the road, move over for emergency vehicles, and utilize one of New York’s many text stops when necessary.”
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High Water Rescues Under Way in Golden Triangle

“The most severe rainfall and rising floodwater conditions on Aug. 30 are taking place in Texas’ Golden Triangle, the Beaumont-Port Arthur metropolitan area, now that Tropical Storm Harvey has come ashore nearby. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of residents in Port Arthur were stranded by high water as of 6:15 a.m and all major roads in the county except I-10 eastbound to Lake Charles, La., were impassable at that time, the Beaumont Enterprise reported.

The newspaper’s reports indicated the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who needs help to hang a sheet or some other signal on their home to let rescuers know they need help, and Port Arthur officials likewise are asking residents on social media to display something white so rescuers can find them easily.

Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said more than 20,000 homes in the city have water inside them.”
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FAA — Hurricane Harvey Update

“The Federal Aviation Administration continues to handle emergency and relief operations at a number of airports in the Hurricane Harvey area, including at Houston Hobby and George Bush Intercontinental. The FAA is prepared to support the resumption of commercial service flights when airport authorities reopen the airports.

This Hurricane Harvey information is critical so that first responders can conduct rescue and recovery operations.

Drone Users: The FAA warns unauthorized drone operators that flying a drone could interfere with the U.S. National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Texas Military Department’s rescue and recovery missions as evacuations escalate due to rising water. You could be subject to significant fines if you interfere with emergency response operations. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.

Commercial passengers: Passengers should be aware that resuming normal airline operations will take time and airlines may not be operating a full flight schedule immediately after the airports reopen. Although airports may be listed as “open,” flooding on local roadways may limit access to airports for passengers, as well as the employees who work for the airlines or at the airport. As a result, every aspect of your trip to the airport, including parking, checking in, getting through security and boarding may take longer than usual. As always, check with airlines about the status of your flight before you leave for the airport.

GA pilots: There is currently a TFR in place for Rosenburg, Texas until further notice. Continue monitoring TFR.FAA.gov and @FAANews on Twitter for the latest information. Regardless of where you are flying, always be aware of the weather conditions. If you are planning to travel to or from Texas or Louisiana, know the runway conditions before operating by contacting your destination facility.

Operations Update: The FAA has set up a Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower (MATCT) at Fort Worth Meacham (KTFW) awaiting further deployment as needed.”

CSB Issues Safety Alert Following Hurricane Harvey

“CSB Urges Oil and Chemical Facilities to Take Special Safety Precautions during Startups Following Hurricane Harvey

Washington, DC, August 28, 2017 – The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) today issued a Safety Alert urging oil and chemical facilities to take special precautions when restarting in the wake of shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey.

The startup of major processes at chemical facilities is a hazardous phase and facilities should pay particular attention to process safety requirements during this critical period to assure a safe and expeditious return to normal operations.

“Restarting a refinery poses a significant safety risk, said Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “When operators follow established startup procedures and checklists, it reduces the risk to a catastrophic accident that could cost lives and incur substantial product disruptions.”

Restarting a complex petrochemical process requires a higher level of attention and care than normal processing, because numerous activities are occurring simultaneously and many automatic systems are run under manual control. Because a significant number of facilities were shut down during Hurricane Harvey, there will be a significant number of facilities restarting, which will increase the risk to safety.

The Safety Alert outlines specific procedures to assure safe restarts under the headings, “Rely on Established Safety Systems” and “Check Process Equipment Thoroughly.” For example, facilities are urged to follow established startup procedures and checklists, and to recognize that “human performance may be compromised due to crisis conditions.”

Additional safety protocols require checking bulk storage tanks for evidence of floating displacement or damage, and to examine insulation systems, sewers, drains, furnace systems, electric motors and other equipment, including warning systems, to make sure they are fully functional…”

HHS Publishes Revised Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF)

“The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that their revised Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) was approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In the ‘terms of clearance’, OMB is authorizing the use of the ‘old’ CCF.

To learn more about what this means for DOT drug testing visit our web page at http://www.transportation.gov/odapc/Notice_CCF_August_2017.”

Paper Cites Beneficial Effects of Playing Video Games

“People who feel stressed during their work day could benefit from playing video games, the authors of a paper recently published in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s journal Human Factors concluded.

More than half of Americans report they experience cognitive fatigue related to stress, frustration, and anxiety while at work. People who work in safety-critical fields, such as air traffic control and health care, are at greater risk for cognitive fatigue, which can lead to errors. The authors of the paper — human factors/ergonomics researchers — evaluated whether casual video game play is an effective way to combat workplace stress during breaks.

In their article, “Searching for Affective and Cognitive Restoration: Examining the Restorative Effects of Casual Video Game Play,” Michael Rupp and co-authors used a computer-based task to induce cognitive fatigue in 66 participants, who were then given a five-minute rest break to played a video game, participate in a guided relaxation activity, or sit quietly in the testing room without using a phone or computer. They measured participants’ stress level and cognitive performance.”
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New guide will help small businesses comply with OSHA’s silica rule for general industry and maritime

“OSHA has released a Small Entity Compliance Guide for General Industry and Maritime to help small business employers comply with the agency’s Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees in general industry and maritime from the hazards associated with silica exposure. These requirements include: assessing worker exposures; using engineering and work practice controls to keep exposures below a specified safety threshold; and offering medical exams to certain highly exposed workers. Enforcement of the final rule in general industry and maritime is scheduled to begin June 23, 2018.”

OSHA News: Electronic Reporting to Start on August 1

Starting on August 1, 2017, employers may begin electronically submitting required injury and illness data from their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A. They will do this through the Injury Tracking Application. Last month, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking – extending the deadline for submitting 2016 Form 300A to December 1, 2017. This extension was to allow affected entities enough time to become familiar with the electronic reporting system, and to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation. The data submission involves four steps, which include:
Creating an establishment
Adding 300A summary data
Submitting data to OSHA
Reviewing the confirmation email
You can read more about the deadline extension, and find more information about the process, here!