The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the final Hexavalent Chromium (CrVI) Standard on February 28, 2006, with a deadline for full compliance on May 31, 2010.  Three versions of the standard apply each to General Industry, Construction, and Shipyards, with similar provisions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control: Cr(VI) compounds are a group of chemical substances containing the metallic element chromium in its positive- 6 valence (hexavalent) state.  Occupational exposures to Cr(VI) occur during the production of stainless steel, chromate chemicals, chromate pigments, chrome plating, and thermal cutting.

NIOSH considers all Cr (VI) compounds to be potential occupational carcinogens.  Rarely found in nature, Cr(VI) is a toxic form of the element chromium.  Other uses for chromium are making bricks in furnaces, leather tanning, wood preserving, and may be in dyes, paints, and inks.  Cr(VI) may be inhaled through dust, fumes or mist.  Prolonged exposure can cause irritation or damage to the respiratory tract, eyes and skin if it comes in contact with those organs, and lung cancer.

To prevent this, employers must first determine the air quality and element of risk to their employees.  An Industrial Hygienist should perform air monitoring and inform the company of the employees’ time weighted average for an 8-hour workday.

OSHA requires engineering controls put into place to eliminate employees’ exposure to Cr (VI) and enhance their protection by the use of respirators or N95 types of facemasks. Respiratory protection requirements are the same in all three standards. Respirators are required in situations whenever exposure levels exceed the permissible exposure limit and/or emergencies.

The OSHA standards also require that separate change rooms are available to prevent cross-contamination of street clothes.  The employer must provide disposable clothing, or clean, repair and replace all protective clothing used by employees when they have been exposed to Cr (VI).  Medical surveillance is to be available free for the employee who has been exposed to the substance at or above the action level for 30 or more days per year, or those who are experiencing symptoms of adverse health effects.  Employees must wash their hands and face at the end of each shift.  No eating or drinking in the work areas is permitted.

Most of us may be more familiar with the name Erin Brokovich than this chemical compound.  She was credited with investigating the case of alleged contamination of drinking water with Cr (VI) in the southern California town of Hinkley. At the center of the case was a facility called the Hinkley Compressor Station, part of a natural gas pipeline connecting to the San Francisco Bay Area and constructed in 1952. Between 1952 and 1966, a major natural gas and electricity provider used hexavalent chromium to fight corrosion in the cooling tower. The wastewater dissolved the Cr (VI) from the cooling towers and was discharged to unlined ponds at the site. Some of the wastewater seeped into the groundwater, affecting an area near the plant approximately two miles long and nearly a mile wide.. The case was settled in 1996 for $333 million, paid to 634 Hinkley residents, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in U.S. history.


We go along from day to day enjoying our lives and daily routines, but a random act of violence can quickly alter everything we plan and look forward to.  On Sunday, March 14th, a beautiful 28-year old woman was watching her two children play in a city park in a small Texas town, when suddenly a 42-year old man walked up behind her and stabbed her in the back!  She was flown to Fort Worth, where doctors found that her spinal cord was almost severed, and she will never walk again.

What causes someone to cause this much harm to a complete stranger?  The man told the local newspaper in a jail interview that he had been mentally ill for twenty years; it is our hope that authorities will solve the puzzle after thoroughly investigating this crime.

People have the right to take their children to playgrounds and parks without the fear of an assault such as this.  Chances are, there would not have been anything she could have done to prevent what happened, had she seen the man coming toward her.  Maybe this tragedy can serve as a warning to others, that we must be aware of our circumstances all the time.

Here are some places that women in particular need to be careful:

  • Parking lots – especially at night, and without ample light.
  • Parks – are safer when there are several other people present.
  • Malls – late hours when crowds thin out.  It would be wise to ask for security to walk you to your car, or have someone with you.
  • Parking garages – don’t use them if they have poor lighting.  If you work where there is a parking garage, ask security to accompany you to your vehicle.
  • Public rest stops – when there are several vehicles around them, they may be safe; however, it would be better to go to a gas station or store, with other people around, especially after dark.

Other tips for staying safe are:

  • Don’t wear expensive jewelry when you are alone.
  • Keep your cell phone handy.
  • If you have a daily walking schedule, change the routes you take.
  • If someone in a car stops to ask a question, stay far enough away that you can escape.
  • Avoid ATM’s at night.
  • Realize that using headphones can lessen your awareness.
  • If you have to go out alone, daytime is the safest time of day.
  • Don’t walk in deserted areas, where you must pass alleys, trees, and bushes that create hiding places for someone wanting to do you harm.
  • It is safer to use the “buddy system”; ask a friend or two to accompany you to take a walk or go to the mall.

One other reminder to parents and grandparents: we know that children reach an age that they feel they don’t need to be accompanied to the bathroom when in a restaurant, park, etc.  But it is a good idea to check to ensure that someone isn’t in there, and wait outside the door.  You just can’t be too careful when it comes to the safety of your child.

It is a sad fact of life that anyone may have the misfortune to fall victim to assault, harassment, robbery or physical attack.  Chances are, the majority of people won’t.  But it is a good idea to take precautions to keep ourselves safe at all times.

Keep an Eye on Your Workers

Guest Blogger: Vince Hundley

Workers who refuse to follow your safety glasses policy are your biggest risk.  If they don’t conform, you have to take a hard line. I am telling you because I have years of hard data to back me up.

Years ago, I was managing our company’s safety program. We were performing at about the national average on-the-job injuries, but I was desperately looking to affect some improvement to reduce our accidents and lower our loss ratios.

I was having limited success, so I analyzed our accident data and the only obvious trend that I found was that accidents occurred when people took shortcuts. So I did what anyone would do, I implemented a 100% safety glasses policy.  I suspected that 100% compliance would prevent injuries.

What I found was surprising!  I received widespread pushback from the workers.  They told me that their safety glasses made them feel less safe!  They whined because they couldn’t see, or that they were getting headaches.  The resistance was so strong that I nearly gave in.

With the backing of our superintendent, I held my ground.  Over time the complaints dissipated, and soon only a few people were resisting the program. I was able to target those obvious individuals and gave them this ultimatum: “Either they change their behavior or they will move on– Whether voluntarily or not.”

As time went on, our incident rate improved significantly. Many of the careless accidents we’d experienced were not happening anymore. Then it occurred to me, the people not wearing safety glasses were the most likely to get injured!

How did I make that connection?

Workers that did not follow the policy were more likely to participate in risky behavior.  They just plain did not value their safety as much as their safer co-workers. I concluded the people that refused to wear glasses were Anti-Safety!!  If they pushed back on wearing safety glasses, then I knew they would push back on other things.

So if you are trying to reduce accidents and create a safety-conscience culture in your company, you should isolate those people that refuse to follow your safety policy on eye protection policy, and you should take a hard line.  It will help your employees, your safety culture and it will help your bottom line.

Pass this advice on to your family, friends and coworkers, because the more we talk about safety, the less we’ll hear about accidents.

Eye Protection at Your Workplace
All safety glasses and goggles should be ANSI Z87.1 certified for industrial eye protection with the Z87 mark on the frame or lenses. In certain occupations, a face shield and/or goggles should be mandatory.

Mr. Hundley graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety from Illinois State University, and completed his Master’s of Science in Industrial Hygiene at SDSU.  He is certified by the Board of Certified Safety professionals as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).  Mr. Hundley is President and CEO of SMART Safety Group and President of OSHA outlet. 


If you know a young person who is considering doing volunteer work, or beginning a new job, here’s some common-sense advice to give them.  These suggestions are excellent for all workers, regardless of age.   Whether it is volunteering in a facility such as a hospital, nursing home, or humane shelter, or starting a new job, there are rules and regulations to be followed.

Here are thirteen steps that we hope everyone will abide by:

1.    Get training. Can you show me how to do it?  What things should I watch for?

2.    Learn how to do the job safely.  Follow the policies, procedures and rules.  Be aware of what to do in an emergency.

3.    Be supervised. If my supervisor is not near to where I am working and I have a question, to whom do I go?

4.    Wear the gear. If Personal Protective Equipment or PPE is required, such as gloves, aprons, hairnets, safety glasses, ear plugs, etc., find out how to use them properly and wear them.

5.    Think the job through and identify risks before beginning. Understand unsafe practices or situations and report them.

6.    Ask, Ask, Ask. There are no stupid questions, just stupid excuses when you do something without being told, and without instructions.  Don’t be afraid to communicate.  Try to ask smart questions and not give answers such as, “I didn’t know”, or “No one told me”.

7.    Don’t do anything that you haven’t been instructed to do safely and don’t do anything you’ve been told not to do, for anyone! The supervisor rules.  If others ask you to do something you have been told not to do, or have not received training in, check with your supervisor before you do it.

8.    Follow rules. Every job and every game plan has to include rules to ensure that everyone plays fairly, moves the ball together, and acts like a team.

9.    Tell your supervisor if you see anything hazardous that may hurt someone else or you. If you see them doing something that you know could injure them, report it.  Who is doing it is not as important as what is being done.  You’re not ratting, you are making a mature move to prevent unnecessary injuries.

10.    Remember you are not being asked to give until it hurts! If you get hurt, no matter how minor it may seem to you, report it to your supervisor and let your family know.

11.    Talk to your family and let them know what type of tasks you’ll be doing and the training you have received. If you have any concerns or things that feel aren’t right, tell them.  Sometimes your parents know things you don’t.

12.    Be honest. If you think the task is beyond your personal capabilities, let the employer know right away.  Don’t take on anything that you can’t handle.

13.    Don’t assume you can do something you haven’t done before without some instructions or supervision, and never do anything more than what you were actually told to do without checking with the supervisor first.

This is good advice for all of us.  Remember, your health and safety is more important than any job or paycheck.  Pay Attention!  Keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to speak up.  You need to protect yourself.

Source:  Ministry of Labour, Canada


Spring is officially here, and we are already experiencing some windy days, which is normal for this time of the year.  The Western United States is usually affected by winds more than other parts of the country.  Having lived in West Texas for a number of years, we became accustomed to more wind in the Spring, which often resulted in terrible sandstorms, limiting visibility to zero, on very bad days.  (You didn’t want to be wearing contact lens when it was extremely windy!)  Worse, we see images on the news of the conditions that our troops face in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, with blinding sandstorms adding to their many other challenges.

Wind is something we all should pay attention to.  For those who work outdoors, it can create risky situations.  Persons who work on scaffolds, or any platform where they are above the ground should take all precautions by wearing the proper PPE, such as goggles to protect their eyes, harnesses, and other means of stabilization.  Another example of windy conditions affecting the workplace are airlines, which often must delay or cancel flights because of high winds.

Windy conditions can adversely affect all vehicles – cars, trucks, R.V.’s, and motorcycles. The best course of action while driving in windy conditions is to slow down.  A strong wind gust can blow a driver or rider off course.  Motorcycle riders need to remember that no matter how strong they think they are, the wind is stronger.  The best thing for all drivers or riders who are fighting high winds is to find a safe place to stop until things calm down.

Those who live in mobile/manufactured homes may want to have a licensed installer inspect to ensure it is safely anchored to the ground, that it has the right number of ground anchors, and to replace any damaged or corroded ones.  If winds reach a high speed, these types of homes may be susceptible to damage.

With the beginning of more outdoor activities that warm weather brings, everyone should be cautious.  When grilling, keep a fire extinguisher or water hose handy just in case the wind starts blowing.  If there is a burn ban in the area you live, by all means, observe the ban.  Too many fires have been started by carelessness, as Californians can confirm.  Winds have carried fire across thousands of acres of beautiful forests.  Boaters should be aware of changing weather, noticing cloud changes, or the water beginning to white cap.

The best advice is to pay attention to the weather forecast for your area every day.  Then you can assess conditions for your workday, or for other activities you have planned.  Nice, soft breezes keep us at ease; it’s just that some days the winds may get a little out of hand.  That’s when we get in situations that we must remain calm and use our skills to stay safe.


There are two different days of the year that worldwide Earth Day celebrations are held.  The first Earth Day celebration started on April 22, 1970, when Senator Gaylord Nelson encouraged everyone to take responsibility for life on our planet.  Later, another observance began March 20th, 1978, when John McConnell established Earth Day around the time of the vernal equinox.   Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously throughout the world by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities.  There are now more than one-half billion people that participate in Earth Day network campaigns every year.

With the beginning of the April 22, 1970 movement, approximately 20 million Americans participated to reach the goal of a healthy, sustainable environment.  Up until this time, separate groups who had been fighting against polluting factories, power plants, toxic dumps, oil spills, wilderness loss and extinction of wildlife began to realize that they shared common goals.  Through the years and with the help of the worldwide web, the efforts of those concerned with the environment have multiplied.  Other concerns such as global warming and clean energy have now emerged, as well.

Some of the goals of these Earth Day movements are:

  • A carbon-free future based on renewable energy that will end our common dependency on fossil fuels, including coal.
  • An individual’s commitment to responsible, sustainable consumption.
  • Creation of a new green economy that lifts people out of poverty by creating millions of quality green jobs and transforms the global education system into a green one.

We are given the opportunity to keep our towns, states, and country beautiful and protect the environment. Our children should be taught to respect the earth.  Even with all the campaigns promoting “Keep America Beautiful”, and similar others, some people still disregard them, by discarding trash alongside the roads, or throwing cans in lakes or streams.  It is our focus to ensure that persons whose jobs are to clean up pollution or other acts of negligence of the earth remain safe as they do their job.

Are you doing your part to keep your little corner of the world green?

There are things each of us can do to preserve our country’s beauty, protect our wildlife, and keep our air clean.  In exchange, if we maintain a good environment, we are also making our world a safer place.  Whether you choose to observe “Earth Day” in March or April, (or both), let’s make it a habit to appreciate our world by keeping it safe and pristine.


The Winter Olympic Games were completed on February 28th .  However, another spectacular event is taking place in March, the X Paralympic Games, being held in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.  Dates for the games are March 13th to March 21st.

Approximately 600 athletes from 45 countries have been training  hard to win gold medals.  These games feature the best athletes in the world with various disabilities.  The slogan of the Paralympic Movement is “Spirit in Motion”.  The first Summer Paralympic Games were held in Italy in 1960.  Sweden hosted the first Winter Paralympic Games in 1976.  We look forward to cheering on our favorite athletes, and wish them all “Good Luck!”

For the Winter Paralympic Games, you will see great competition in the following events:
1.    Ice Sledge Hockey

2.    Wheelchair Curling

3.    Alpine Skiing

4.    Biathlon

5.    Cross-Country Skiing

Summer Paralympic Games include:
1.    Athletics (track and field)

2.    Boccia

3.    Cycling

4.    Equestrian

5.    Football 5-a-side

6.    Football 7-a-side

7.    Goalball

8.    Judo

9.    Powerlifting

10.    Rowing

11.    Sailing

12.    Shooting

13.    Swimming

14.    Table Tennis

15.    Volleyball (sitting)

16.    Wheelchair basketball

17.    Wheelchair fencing

18.    Wheelchair rugby

19.    Wheelchair tennis

These athletes come from all over the world to show that they have the skills and power to triumph in their chosen sport by overcoming the obstacles they contend with.  Congratulations to every competitor; you make the world proud!


Whether the “luck of the Irish” is myth or fact, it is a fact that Wednesday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, and folks of Ireland observe it as both a national and religious holiday.  Others worldwide celebrate the day regardless of their heritage.  St. Patrick’s Day Parades and other activities started this past weekend, and green beer has started flowing!  For those of us who know little about St. Patrick, here’s a wee bit of information:

Fifth century Ireland was a lost world, both to archaeologists and historians.  What little is known about the life and work of Patrick comes from his own writings in Latin, now accepted as authentic.  Written in his old age, he said he was a native of Roman Britain, the son of a deacon who lived in the village of Bannaven Taberniae.  He was captured by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen, and sold into bondage to watch over swine and sheep on the slopes of Slemish mountain for a chief named Milchu.  During his captivity, his thoughts turned to God, and he spent many hours in solitary prayer.  Following his escape, he spent 15 years studying religion, and then returned to Ireland to spread Christianity throughout the country.  He died on March 17, 493, A.D., the date later chosen to honor him.  Many of the accounts of the history of St. Patrick vary, but his legacy for the success of the Christian movement in Ireland will always live on.

Being descendants of great Celtic and Viking fighters and invaders, the Irish had great fighting  skills; because they survived many battles, they became known as “lucky people”.  There is other folklore that comes from the Green Isle:

  • Catching leprechauns, because if you do, you will find their pot of gold.
  • Looking for four-leaf clovers. Haven’t most of us done that?
  • Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, for good luck, and in order not to get pinched!
  • Kissing the Blarney Stone, which is located in a wall in the tower of Blarney castle.  (It’s a hard feat to accomplish, however, due to its location.)

We hope you have enjoyed some of the background of this special day, and want to share this Irish wish with you:
“May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may Irish angels
Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.”

It’s our hope that Irish angels smile on all of you every day, and bring you good fortune! Whether we are at work or play, we mustn’t depend on luck, however.  Sometimes a little luck goes a long way, but other times, we simply run out of it.  Keep yourself safe always.   If you want to carry a lucky charm in your pocket, that’s great, but the key to staying safe is paying attention and being careful.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Don’t forget to wear green!)


The H1N1 virus seems to have hit a lull, and thankfully so.  However, it is a good idea for those who are taking trips for their spring break to have had their flu shot.  The Centers for Disease Control have confirmed there are still cases being reported, and the possibility of a new wave of flu activity exists.  In the United States, the virus is not widespread, and only four states had reported regional activity, which include Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, as of March 5, 2010.

Most of the viruses identified so far continue to be 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses.  These viruses remain similar to the virus chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, and remain susceptible to the drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir, with rare exception. Some influenza B viruses are circulating at low levels, and these viruses remain similar to the influenza B virus component of the 2009-10 seasonal flu vaccine.

Several colleges have taken precautionary measures to monitor student health situations, as well as working with local public health authorities.  It is important for schools to watch for another virus to begin following the return of students from their spring break.  The most consistent  advice for families planning to travel is to be certain everyone has had their flu shots, and to be aware of their surroundings.  If they are in crowds or traveling by bus or plane, it is still a good idea to observe others, and avoid someone sneezing or coughing often.  Having hand sanitizer handy is a great rule of thumb, and washing hands at every possible chance helps prevent the spread of germs.

We hope that everyone who has the opportunity to have a break this spring, a very happy time, and that they return well, rested, and ready to get back to school or work! Have fun, and stay safe!


Once again, the time has rolled around to wind those clocks ahead one hour, or “Spring  Forward”!  Sunday, March 11th is the day you lose an hour of sleep, but there will be more light at the end of the day.  (A little more time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th!)  Here’s some information that we presented previously about the pro’s and con’s of Daylight Savings Time, plus an extra tip or two:

A study done by the National Sleep Foundation showed that immediately following the time change in the spring:

  • 40% of adults were sleepy enough that it interfered with their daily activities,
  • 62% drove while drowsy,
  • 27% dozed off (if only for a few seconds) while driving,
  • 18% experienced sleepiness at least a few days per week, and
  • 32% know someone who had an accident by falling asleep at the wheel.

Those favoring Daylight Savings Time enjoy sporting activities after working hours, and retail businesses love it because it gives them the opportunity to remain open in order for folks to shop after work.  Farmers who rise before dawn and depend on working by sunlight may not be as happy with Daylight Savings Time.  During harvesting of grain, for example, they must wait until the dew evaporates, leaving less time for their helpers to do their job.

It was predicted that there would be a reduction in power usage with days having more sunlight, but it has been shown that power usage increased in the early morning hours, as people must get up for work in the dark to prepare for their day.  Maybe it’s a Catch-22, because research has shown that traffic fatalities are reduced when there is more afternoon light; however, the early morning darkness brings more danger for workers commuting to work, and children walking to catch the school bus in the dark.   This would be a good time to be sure your children are highly visible if they ride their bikes or catch a school bus, as there are all types of high-visibility decals that can be attached to their bikes or backpacks to ensure they will be seen.  When the time changes again in November, statistics show an increase in evening traffic accidents immediately following the change.

Some of us take the change in stride, and never worry about the difference an hour makes. (After all, we get it back in the fall.)  The main thing is that we adapt and be thankful we are able to carry on, and have the freedom to complain about things we don’t like, such as the time change.  Stay safe, and make the most of that extra hour of sunshine!

P.S. Let’s not forget our friends in Japan, who suffered the earthquake and tsunami this time last year.  They are still struggling to recover, and searches for those lost continue.