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NSC: Motor vehicle fatality rates up a 'staggering' 23.5% in May

Preliminary estimates released July 21 by the National Safety Council (NSC) show that, for the third month in a row, U.S. drivers "were at a higher risk of dying from a motor vehicle crash," based on May data from all 50 states. Although there is less traffic on the roads, the fatality rate per miles driven in May jumped a staggering 23.5% compared with the previous year.

MSHA issues safety alert on falls

In response to a rise in fatalities related to falls, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued a safety alert. Deaths from falls rose to 19% of mining fatalities, up from 8% just two years ago. Between January 2019 and June 2020, MSHA issued 92 imminent danger orders for workers at heights observed without fall protection. According to the agency, the most common violations were truck drivers climbing atop their vehicles, and maintenance and quarry personnel climbing to or working without fall protection in high places.

NIOSH study: Health Risk Behaviors Among Construction Workers

New research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finds that construction workers are more prone to five health risk behaviors than other workers. These include smoking, smokeless tobacco use, binge drinking, seatbelt use, and leisure-time physical activity. A sixth health risk, getting less than seven hours of sleep a day, was less prevalent among construction workers as compared to the general workforce.

The survey covered 38 different construction occupations, including laborers, project managers, those in construction trades, and contractors. It suggests that behavior changes among construction managers could have positive effects on the safety and health culture in the construction industry.

FMCSA extends waiver for certain preemployment drug tests

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted to recently furloughed commercial motor vehicle drivers a 90-day waiver from certain preemployment drug testing requirements, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver ends September 30, 2020.

EPA publishes final risk evaluation for methylene chloride

Methylene chloride poses "unreasonable risk" to workers under certain conditions, according to a final risk evaluation recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency, which now is required to propose regulatory action within one year to mitigate the chemical's hazards.

Most home office workstations are set up incorrectly

According to a recent study by the University of Cincinnati published in Ergonomics in Design, most home offices are set up incorrectly. The researchers found that 41% of chairs were too low and 2% too high; 53% of workers had armrests on their chairs, but 32% did not use them; 73% used chairs without lumbar support; 75% used laptop computers on their desks that are deemed too low relative to the workers' eye height.

NLRB gives employers more leeway to fire employees for profane outbursts

In a July 21 decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a new standard requiring the NLRB's general counsel to first prove that an employee's protected activity was a motivating factor for disciplinary action. The employer must then prove it would have taken the same action even in the absence of the protected activity. Previously, a worker's profane, racist, and sexist remarks were safeguarded if they were made while participating in protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

CPWR presents webinar on contact tracing in construction

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) presented a webinar on contact tracing as an effective COVID-19 control measure.

CPWR publishes new resources on protecting construction, surface mining workers from silica dust

Three new resources, a hazard alert card, toolbox talk, and dealer/rental fact sheet, available in English and Spanish, are intended to help prevent silica exposure among construction and surface mining workers who operate mobile equipment in enclosed cabs.

ISHN Readers' Choice Awards winners for PPE, safety equipment products

For the eighth consecutive year, the Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN) held its Reader Choice Awards for all major PPE categories. The results were recently published.

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