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HAZCOM

  • One Battle You Didn’t Choose: Cancer and the Chemicals that Cause It

    My best guess is that just about everybody reading this blog article has been affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. I know that guess isn’t very scientific, or actuarial, but it sure will be close. It’s the one diagnosis everybody fears. After a diagnosis leaves you reeling from the unknown, and “it can’t be happening to me” feeling, the next two questions are: what are my chances for survival, and where did it come from? The feeling of doom just seems to settle in until your Oncologist can help you understand what will happen next. You’ll need to listen to your doctor and trust his/her experience; you might also want to consider a second opinion. The other question…..Where did it come from?....... If not from heredity, then the next culprit is carcinogens.carcinogens

    A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This definition is offered by Wikipedia. I’m not a chemist to know and understand the science of how it works. Additionally they offer Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, benzene, kepone, EDB, and asbestos which have all been classified as carcinogenic.[6] As far back as the 1930s, industrial smoke and tobacco smoke were identified as sources of dozens of carcinogens, including benzo[a]pyrene, tobacco-specific nitrosamines such as nitrosonornicotine, and reactive aldehydes such as formaldehyde—which is also a hazard in embalming and making plastics. Vinyl chloride, from which PVC is manufactured, is a carcinogen and thus a hazard in PVC production. That’s a lot of chemistry to deal with. Here’s the point we want to make. There are roughly 20,000 deaths annually associated with occupational hazards. That is a number we shouldn’t be happy with. Training is available, and as an employer that training should be made available. An employer should also make a concerted effort to identify any carcinogens associated with the process of or results of the products produced in his plant, and train accordingly.

    Cancer did affect my family as I recently lost a brother to this ruthless disease. He was employed in a lab at a paper mill. He was only 60 and getting ready to retire, his wife is now a widow. “”Father’s day” is a painful reminder instead of a celebration, and holidays are empty. We are a large family in a small community, and our faith does help take the edge off. As a safety advocate I would strongly urge you to take a look at your safety program at work, and make sure it includes “Carcinogen safety”. If your company doesn’t have a course, you can take one “on line.” I realize we can’t avoid all, or legislate carcinogens out of existence, but we need to make an effort to understand what and where they are. I would also ask all of you to consider supporting cancer research, or families who struggle with the cost of fighting this formidable opponent.

  • My Mother: A Tribute to Competent Person Training

    I grew up in a family of twelve children, five girls and seven brothers. Little did I realize at the time that apparently OSHA had visited my house and declared “Mom” a competent person.

    The term "Competent Person" is used in many OSHA standards and documents. An OSHA "competent person" is defined as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them" [29 CFR 1926.32(f)]. By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person. This definition is taken from OSHA.

    It seemed that Mom was always on the spot to guide us in the direction of sanity. She taught us some of the finer points of working safely in the kitchen, and of course the rewards of taste testing to make sure it was safe for the others. Cleaning was also on her radar, including sanitation. Right to know issues were whose turn it was to do dishes, or sweep the floors. Everybody was involved in cherry picking and pitting for pies and jam. The older boys had garage duty, or loading coal into the furnace hopper. Of course Dad was the force in the repair department, including repairing and glazing windows before putting on the storms in time for winter. Dad also inspected and repaired our 4 buckle boots. Yes PPE was a part of the routine. We didn’t necessarily have safety meetings but were reminded that if we were going out to play ball, to cross the road safely, make sure the dog didn’t follow us, and to look out for your little brothers. I’m not too sure what Mom told the girls except that she would flash the light on and off if they were in the driveway too long with a boyfriend. Mom passed away this past fall, but left us with a lifetime of memories. Competent Person training was passed down. Now I get to be the competent person in my own home, with my wife’s blessing of course.

    Competent person training is a big deal. Why train a competent person? Employers are required by law to comply with a number of OSHA regulations. These regulations are defined and driven by hazards which exist in your workplace. Compliance with these laws indicate that a “Competent Person” must be assigned the responsibility of identifying existing and predictable hazards, and has been given the authority to take corrective action. If you are a Human resource manager, Maintenance Manager, safety program Administrator, Hospital administrator, on a safety committee, process engineer, department manager, Risk manager, or anyone having safety management duties. You should have this type of training. It covers: Introduction to OSHA, components of an effective safety Program, OSHA Record keeping fundamentals, , Intro to Industrial hygiene/toxicology, Job hazard analysis & Procedures, accident investigation, PPE, Hazcom & GHS, LOTO, confined space. Along with that training the trainer could also be a part of this type of training. Seek out, find and enroll in the training you need. Competent Person Training, Your Mother would be proud.

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