May is National Electrical Safety Month

May is National Electrical Safety Month! This annual campaign is sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to provide education and awareness about the steps that can be taken in order to reduce the number of electrically related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property loss. This is a great time to raise awareness about electrical hazards in your workplace.

In laboratories, in particular, there can be an elevated risk of electrical fires and electrical shock due to the many types of electrical equipment used including vacuum pumps, electrophoresis devices, hot plates, heating mantles, centrifuges, UV lamps, refrigerators, and freezers. This equipment can pose a significant electrical hazard if not properly used and maintained.

Laboratory employees should be trained on the risks associated with electrically energized equipment including the importance of adhering to the following practices:

  • Inspect equipment cords before each use; replace any frayed or damaged cords immediately
  • Use only equipment with three prongs (ground […]

Returning to Work – We’ve Been Here the Whole Time!

In this new quarterly blog series, our President and COO, Jennifer Reilly, will share her insights and updates in the life sciences industry from a safety perspective. In this quarter’s blog, gain insight into how Safety Partners managed through a pandemic and what you can learn from our experience as you start to return to work:

A couple of weeks ago there were several key updates related to lifting many COVID-19 restrictions in MA.  Last week we were able to remove face coverings when outside in public when we can socially distance.

More recreation opportunities will be possible with the opening of amusement, theme, and water parks at 50% capacity along with road races and other outdoor athletic events.  Although there will still be some approved health and safety protocols in place, it is exciting to continue to move toward returning and reopening what looks like what will be our “new normal” by August.

Many articles and […]

National Work Zone Awareness Week 2021

This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is taking place April 26-30.  The theme is Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives

NWZAW is a nation-wide event sponsored by partnerships between state departments of transportation (DOT), national road safety organizations, government agencies, private companies, and individuals.

Work zones play a critical role in maintaining and upgrading our nation’s roadways. They separate construction and maintenance activities from traffic, providing a safe route for all road users (motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists) and a safe area for workers. However, as seen from National Highway Administration (FHWA) data, work zone-related changes in traffic patterns and rights of way, combined with the presence of workers, and the frequent movement of work vehicles results in an increased incidence of crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

What are the goals of NWZAW?

This annual spring campaign encourages safe driving through roadway work zones. The goals of NWZAW include:

  • Highlighting the deadly dangers of inattention at roadway […]

Earth Day is April 22: Your Company’s Environmental Impact

Earth Day is April 22! Do you have anything planned? It is a great time for employee engagement and there are many activities that can be organized such as a volunteer day for picking up trash in the community, scheduling learning sessions on environmentally friendly practices like composting, holding a company-wide donation or fundraising event, or maybe even holding a contest or game about recycling.

Long term though, it is also a good time to look at your company’s environmental impact and think of ways to minimize that impact. This will not only help the environment but will also increase employee morale and reduce company costs!

Where can you start?

A good starting point is to look at your current practices and to start small. Here are some ideas to get you started, that we’ve implemented at Safety Partners.

  • Engage your employees

Talk to employees and co-workers. They may already have lots of great ideas that they have […]

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

World Day for Safety and Health at Work (World Day) will take place on April 28, 2021. The International Labour Organization (ILO) began observing World Day in 2003 to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.

World Day is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases, and fatalities worldwide and to highlight the importance of creating and promoting a strong occupational safety and health culture in the workplace.

What is the magnitude of the problem?

  • The ILO estimates that there are 2.3 million fatalities worldwide each year from work-related accidents or diseases; this corresponds to over 6000 deaths every day.
  • Diseases related to workplace exposures cause the most deaths among workers; hazardous substances alone are estimated to cause over 650,000 deaths a year.
  • Worldwide, there are an estimated 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million workers who develop work-related illnesses annually.

What is the focus of […]

OSHA Launches a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program

On March 12, 2021, OSHA announced that it has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts at companies where there is the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting COVID-19. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.


Why was the NEP Established and What is its Goal?

The NEP is in response to the January 21, 2021 Presidential Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, which directs OSHA to focus its enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at increased risk for acquiring COVID-19 in the workplace, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions related to SARS-CoV-2 exposure.

Per the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick, “This program seeks to substantially […]

Beta Mercaptoethanol In Use. Dr. John, Stay Far, Far Away!

“Beta Mercaptoethanol In Use. Dr. John, Stay Far, Far Away!” featured in Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research, Volume 2, tells a real-life story about what can happen when safety procedures aren’t followed in a lab decommissioning. Read on to learn what happens:

Dr. John had walked up to my cubicle “Lucy, can you help me figure something out? Once in a while, I don’t feel so good after work. Kind of sneezy and nauseous at the same time. I felt that way last night again.”

I looked up from my paperwork. I was filling out the final round of paperwork for a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) permit. That was part of my job as a consulting safety officer. My client was setting up another new lab in Kendall Square. Even though Kendall Square was getting really cramped with biotech companies, my client wanted to stay because, in their CEO’s words, “it’s where […]

March is National Ladder Safety Month!

The American Ladder Institute (ALI) is sponsoring its fifth annual National Ladder Safety Month to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities both at home and in the workplace.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, violations related to improper ladder use were number 5 on OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards list for fiscal year 2020.

In addition to the high number of OSHA violations (2,129 in fiscal year 2020), every year there are more than 300 fatalities due to ladder-related accidents and thousands of debilitating injuries. On average, 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries each year! ALI believes ladder accidents are preventable with better safety planning and training as well as continuous innovation in product design.

The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are to:

  • Decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
  • Increase the frequency that ladder safety training modules are viewed […]

 Top 10 OSHA Violations from 2020

On February 26, 2021, OSHA announced its preliminary list of the top 10 most frequently cited workplace standards for the fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020).

Although the top 10 list included all of the same standards cited for the fiscal year 2019, the ranking within the top 10 list changed for several standards including the Respiratory Protection Standard which moved from the fifth position to the third. The Fall Protection Standard remains the most frequently cited OSHA standard for the 10th consecutive year.

The top 10 most frequently cited standards for the fiscal year 2020 are:

  1. Fall Protection- General Requirements(1926.501)─ There were 5,424 violations including not having adequate fall protection in residential construction, unprotected sides and edges, and lack of fall protection systems for roofing work on low-slope roofs.
  2. Hazard Communication(1910.1200)─ There were 3,199 violations including lack of developing and/or implementing a written Hazard Communication Program, lack of adequate […]

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s first eye health and vision care nonprofit organization, has declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month.

Because one of the many negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase in screen time for many remote workers, Prevent Blindness is raising awareness of digital eye strain and providing tips on ways to decrease the effects of increased screen time. Prevent Blindness also recently launched its Take a Screen Time Out awareness campaign.

Symptoms of digital eye strain also referred to as computer vision syndrome, include tired, burning, or itching eyes, sore dry eyes, difficulty focusing, and headaches. To help reduce the effects of increased screen time, Prevent Blindness recommends:

  • Placing computer screens an arms distance (~25 to 26 inches) away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level
  • Using a document holder placed next to the computer screen (it should be close enough so you don’t have to […]