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  • Exposed to asbestos? Now what?

    Last month we discussed The importance of Protective gear when working with asbestos. The information came from “Public Outreach Department for the Mesothelioma Center” Kyle Walsh. Kyle offered to expand on this and we were excited to accept his offer. These folks have a wealth of knowledge in this area, and its an ongoing safety issue which needs to be dealt with.

    What to Do if Exposed to Asbestos

    There is no reason to panic if you have been exposed to asbestos, the toxic mineral that can cause a number of serious health issues.

    But there is good reason to stay vigilant.

    Although no amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe, the odds are still great for developing an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos exposure can lead to a variety of respiratory illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma cancer. But it’s far from automatic. Millions of Americans each year experience some type of asbestos exposure, but only a small percentage is diagnosed with a serious disease.

    The majority of those being diagnosed today are those who experienced prolonged, occupational exposure many years before. And even then, there is no certainty.

    An estimated 3,000 people in the U.S. are still diagnosed annually with mesothelioma. By comparison, an estimated 220,000 will be diagnosed with lung cancer.

    There are a handful of mesothelioma cases stemming from second-hand, or casual, one-time exposure, but they are not typical or common. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has dropped significantly in recent decades, the ubiquitous use of asbestos through much of the 20th century remains with us today in commercial and residential structures. There were more than 2,000 different products once made with asbestos. Many are still with us. The danger still exists, so be aware and alert to the warning signs.

    Asbestos diseases start with the inhalation or ingestion of the microscopic asbestos fibers that can become lodged in the thin lining around the thoracic cavity or abdomen.

    Unfortunately, there is no widely accepted screening test, such as a mammogram or colonoscopy, to check for early asbestos-related disease. Asbestos-related disease does present some initial symptoms that can be recognized and lead to early detection, which is critical when it comes to therapy. Although the symptoms often mirror those of less-serious health problems, do not just ignore them if they persist. Symptoms to look for include:

    • Tightness or pain in the chest • Shortness of breath • A dry hacking cough • Unexplained weight loss

    Anyone with a background that includes consistent occupational exposure or anyone from the military where asbestos was so prevalent, should take special note.

    “Don’t just blow off those symptoms. Don’t just sit home and try to be a hero if these symptoms don’t go away in a couple weeks after taking antibiotics,” said mesothelioma specialist and thoracic surgeon Dr. Rodney Landreneau in Pittsburgh. “Don’t let your doctor just dismiss the problem. Ask for an X-ray to start. It could be something serious.”

    Those symptoms could be a sign of pleural plaques, which are fibrous thickenings of the thin lining around the lungs, a chronic inflammatory condition. Those plaques are not cancerous. They are treatable, but could signal an increased risk for mesothelioma in the future. Pleural plaques should be monitored by a cancer specialist.

    They also are a signal to see a specialist who understands asbestos-related diseases. A specialist can put you through a series of diagnostic procedures that can identify potential problems.

    Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, there are curative therapies that work if it diagnosed early enough. Most of the time, it is not diagnosed until it already has metastasized. The latency period between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis can be anywhere from 20-50 years.

    “If we catch it early enough, it’s something we can really help people with,” Landreneau said. “It can make a huge difference. Therapies are much more effective today than they once were. There have been some wonderful advancements in treating this disease in recent years. But you have to catch it early."

    So stay vigilant.

    Again we want to thank Kyle and his team for the information. you can reach Kyle by e-mail kwalsh@asbestos.com . Here at SafetyInstruction.com we do offer several opportunities to comply with OSHA regulations including a 2hr “on Line” Asbestos awareness course http://www.safetyinstruction.com/online-safety-training/asbestos-awareness-training-online.html

    Thanks and Make it a Safe Day

  • Kudos to Union Safety Training and US Labor

    Training is now in session; All Rise! In the last year or so, I was pressed into service by a request by my son. He and his family live in a large 2 story brick period home here in Wisconsin. Does the movie “Money Pit” ring a bell? Well it needs a lot of TLC, and on occasion you need to get a little rough with it. Starting with bathroom updates, walls and plumbing. Next, outside gutters and downspouts, and then tackling broken windows. Fifty years ago my dad taught me how to glaze windows. Little did I know that I was going to draw on that lesson and put it to use.

    My son is in the trades, a Union Steam Fitter. I’ve always been impressed by the thorough training provided to them, including safety. I found out first hand, that they also train members to take it home as well. Work on the bathroom project included housekeeping, hearing, and eye protection.

    Once the weather warmed we moved to outside projects. First up was the gutter Window Fixingreplacement. I watched as he meticulously prepared himself with a fall protection harness and anchorage, as a good share of the work had to be done from the roof, and did I mention that there is a full size cupola on top of this 2 story home? He prepared the ladder with correct height, angle and distance from the base of the building, including a spotter. I was in the middle of a safety training session, and he wasn’t one bit embarrassed to use the skills and lessons he had learned. Once the old gutters and hangers were removed, the house was ready for the contractors to install new ones. Secretly I thanked God for that choice.

    Fast forward about 8 weeks. It was time to take the window repair serious. A two man job for sure. These old windows were large and cumbersome. We had eight broken panes to replace. I don’t know why they don’t spell pane the right way, they’re a PAIN! Now I know why my dad always had a few choice adjectives to explain the work. Frames also needed new glazing as well. The bottom windows went fairly smooth, but the hard part was yet to come.

    It was a very warm and humid weekend in August so yes heat was a factor and hydration was also in play. The hard part was the 2nd story windows. I was aboScaffoldingut to get a lesson in scaffolding, leveling, erecting and safety. I watched my son work slowly with precision and safety right down to the proper rigging to hoist the individual frame. He even showed me how to tie a secure knot (Now we’re even, I had to show him how to tie a tie). Well we finished the windows, and before we called it a day, he took extra care in cleaning up, not just storing the scaffolding and equipment, but making sure that we didn’t miss any broken glass or dropped glazing points. I don’t think I mentioned that he has two dogs and three youngsters, and was concerned for their safety also.

    At the end of the day I was impressed, proud, and tired. Through these projects, and he’s a long way from the finish line, I had witnessed the results of safety training at its best. Housekeeping, PPE, hearing protection, hand tool safety, ladder safety, fall protection, and scaffolding safety. I’m not sure what’s next, but I want to thank all of you who are responsible for taking time to train our nation’s workers!

    Here at safetyinstruction.com we also want to take a moment to congratulate and celebrate our nation’s workers as we approach Labor Day. Enjoy and make it a safe day. Anyone want to buy an old house?

  • How Did You Know

    Late one night I was returning home on a narrow, winding, two lane road through farm country. It was rainy and the fog was thick, making it hard to see. Abruptly, there in my headlights, was what I believed to be a very large pig. Unable to avoid him I felt a sickening thud. I immediately pulled over, but couldn’t see anything. There was nobody else around and the weather was nasty, so I continued home. Shortly after getting on my slippers, there was a knock on the door. Who could it be this late at night? I opened the door and there stood two uniformed state Police Officers. They questioned me and wanted to know if I had traveled on state highway 21 tonight, and did I drive a red SUV. I had to admit that I did. “Sir” he said “we’re going to have to cite you for leaving the scene.” Curiosity got the best of me; I just had to know how they knew. The officer looked me in the eye “Well” he said “the pig squealed.”whistleblower

    So if you are an employee and you see and unsafe situation or something you feel crosses the line in violation of OSHA requirements, or general safety, do you know the correct protocol for reporting it? Of course if there is imminent danger to life etc., then you need to get help immediately! If not, then your company should have a line of progression or protocol for reporting issues whether it be machine guarding, environmental, trenching, confined space, and on and on. Talk to your HHS Person and volunteer to help. Take a course in “Process Safety Management.”

    So what if no one is paying attention? Or just doesn’t care. We see that in the OSHA News and fines every month. Now what? Call your OSHA Representative 800-321-OSHA. You are not the pig that squealed. You could be saving a life!! This is your responsibility! Further “Whistle Blowers” are protected not just in our industry but in our country in general. Don’t be afraid to get involved. You are also protected from retaliation. Know what your rights are under the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”. Recently OSHA Trade News announced the final rule on procedures for handling retaliation complaints.

    Remember OSHA’s General Duty clause: Each Employer must furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

  • OSHA News, Are We Paying Attention?

    I visit the OSHA website for recent news and fines fairly frequently, to see whose getting nicked for violations and what the violations are. I’m not sure why they publicize them, but it sure can be interesting, and eye opening. January did not disappoint, there were 37 news releases regarding enforcement and citations for violations. Just reading through these gives one reason to just shake your head and wonder: What are they thinking? Or not? Wile E. Coyote never had a OSHA safetymonth like this.

    Blast turns Fatal Death of Welder who fell from misused forklift Lack of fall Protection in worker Fatality Repeated safety Hazards 2 workers injured 1 fatally 2 workers succumb to dangerous fumes Construction fatality results in citations For the third time, OSHA finds roofing contractor allows fatal fall hazards

    The list reads like a bad novel or horror story, and the February list is already growing. If you’re reading this article then you are probably a concerned Safety Advocate. In the past we’ve discussed just about everything you’ll find in the violations OSHA is reporting on their website. Fall protection, fork lift safety, confined space, you name it we have even discussed repeat violations.

    Perhaps the site is a good venue for displaying the overall cost of the violations committed and the senseless loss of life, along with the violators. I may have mis-spoke my question of why. It needs to start somewhere. I understand that safety is everybody’s responsibility but reading this is frustrating. I do applaud all of you out there who are concerned about proper training, and make an effort to make sure that training, and retraining is delivered. Somehow however not everybody got the memo.

    Here’s our challenge as a safety community, we need to seek out other venues to share our information. Don’t overlook your local newspaper, sponsor a safety column. Social media is the current darling of information disbursement, learn how to use it. Preaching to the choir gets old and doesn’t get our message to the right people. Average Americans don’t read safety magazines. Have your company sponsor a safety rodeo for young people. And make sure the media is there. If you’re a Union this is a great way to give back to the community, and to show people that unions are still relevant. We all need to be relevant, and sooner than later.

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