BWC safety grants protect worker health, save employers time, money

NIOSH-BWC study published in industry journal

By Steve Naber, Ph.D., BWC Business Intelligence and Analytics Manager

For more than 10 years, our Division of Safety & Hygiene has enjoyed the benefits of being in a cooperative research program with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Through the program, we share claims with personal information removed and employer data with NIOSH and assist its researchers in various studies that use our data. Working together, we recently completed a study to evaluate the effectiveness of construction equipment Ohio employers purchased using our Safety Intervention Grant program from 2003 to 2016.

The findings

Though the study did not conduct a complete cost-benefit analysis, the data suggest our safety grants help improve worker safety and may also lead to cost savings for Ohio construction industry employers. In terms of cost savings, the study found:

  • An average productivity savings of $24,462 per grant.
  • The average savings due to less rework was $2,931 per grant.
  • The average savings due to reduced absenteeism was $859 per grant.

It also found equipment for cable pulling in electrical trades to be among the most effective. 

Other equipment scoring highly included concrete sawing equipment, skid steering attachments for concrete breaking, and boom lifts. The study’s results appear in the April edition of the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. You can read the article here.

The objective

The objective of the study was to apply a systematic method to identify the types of construction equipment that were more effective in improving the safety and health of workers. The study’s authors focused on the construction industry because “it is a high-risk industry, and construction employers need more information about effective solutions (interventions) to address safety and health.”

The methodology

The researchers evaluated 153 construction industry safety grants, totaling $6.5 million in equipment costs. The study placed the grants into 24 groups based on the function of the equipment purchased. The analysis emphasized equipment that was purchased in multiple grants and that had high scores for both risk reduction for work-related musculoskeletal disorders and quality of information contained in the safety grant reports.

We provided the data for the study, which included pre-grant and post-grant claims information and employer survey results regarding risk-factor abatement, equipment effectiveness, employee acceptance, and the effects on productivity. The research team developed an evaluation system that assigned scores to each grant based on the quality of the information employers provided addressing these factors. The team then tallied the component scores in these categories to get a total score for each grant that reflected the quality of the information and the equipment effectiveness. BWC researchers also contributed by reviewing and assisting in the development of the scoring system and in preparing the study’s manuscript.


This study supports our belief that employers will see long-term cost savings when they invest in workplace safety. More importantly, investing in safety protects the health and well-being of workers throughout our state. That’s why we’ve been offering these grants to Ohio employers for more than 15 years.  

NIOSH researchers contributing to the study and paper include Brian Lowe, James Albers, Marie Hayden, and Steve Wurzelbacher; BWC’s contributors are Mike Lampl and Steve Naber.

BWC honors five Ohio employers for workplace safety innovations

By Jeff Hutchins, Manager, BWC Quality Assurance & Technical Safety Support

We recently awarded cash prizes to five Ohio employers as part of our annual Safety Innovation Awards. We typically announce the winners at our annual Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, which did not take place as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.    

The awards recognize a handful of Ohio employers for developing innovative solutions to safety concerns in their workplaces. Because in-person judging did not happen at safety congress, we made the decision to award the five finalists $3,500 each.

More recently, we decided to place the awards on hiatus for 2021. We will use this time to review the program and prepare to return for 2022. 

“The COVID-19 emergency has forced us to adapt the way we do many things, including our Safety Innovation Awards,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “Even though we couldn’t provide these finalists the usual ceremony at safety congress, we applaud them for their innovative spirit and commitment to protecting their workers.”

This week, we’ve been posting videos on social media about this year’s award winners. If you missed them, you can learn about all the award winners below.

Diversified Fall Protection (Westlake) – Portable Truss Anchor

Diversified Fall Protection engineers, manufacturers, and distributes fall-protection equipment.

In an industrial setting, working at a height above machinery poses a fall hazard. Unstable ladders and limited styles of fall protection when working in such an environment are ineffective. Contributing to this hazard is the practice of tying off to structures that are not capable of supporting the load if a fall does take place.

This innovation is a portable personal fall protection anchor that installs quickly overhead into the opening of the bottom chord of a roof application. The Portable Truss Anchor uses the overhead truss system in a building to create an Occupational Safety and Health Administration-compliant anchorage point for working in high places. Unlike permanently attached fall protection anchor systems that require a self-retracting lanyard at each location, the Portable Truss Anchor is an alternative solution that installs in minutes – where and when workers need it.

More than 1,000 workers currently use the Portable Truss Anchor with no reported fall-related injures associated with its use.

Watch a video about Diversified Fall Protection’s Portable Truss Anchor on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

Fort Amanda Specialties (Lima) – Custom Cleaning-in-Place Safety Solution

Fort Amanda Specialties LLC is a joint venture of Nouryon and BASF Corporation. It is a chemical producer of high-quality chelates.

The production process uses transport screws to move solid product in a multi-product processing unit. Cleaning out these screws during product changes created safety exposures as workers had to remove the lids to wash the screws. This exposed workers to unguarded moving machinery, high-pressure water spray, and slip hazards from overspray on walking-working surfaces.

The company designed custom-made wash lids with Plexiglass windows for inspection as well as permanently mounted spray nozzles inside.  

The solution eliminates contact with moving equipment and exposure to high-pressure water. The enclosure contains wash water, reducing water use and eliminating slip hazards.

Watch a video about Fort Amanda Specialties’ Custom Cleaning-in-Place Solution on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

Mt. Vernon City Schools (Knox County) – Rapid Barricade

Mt. Vernon City Schools is a school district serving 3,800 students at six elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and a digital academy. 

If a school or other public building experiences a threat, most will activate a lock-down procedure. Door locking devices must be easy to deploy and remove and must withstand extreme force. Some locking devices do not comply with building/fire codes, require facility modifications to install or tools to deploy, and some require workers to verify deployment from a public area (i.e. the hallway), which exposes them to the threat.

The need was for a temporary door-locking device that meets all the fire code and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and was always available, not stored somewhere.

School maintenance personnel worked with a local machine shop to create the now-patented Rapid Barricade. Workers can install the Rapid Barricade on any ADA-compliant door. It deploys in seconds and can withstand 1,200 pounds of force.

Watch a video about Mount Vernon City Schools’ Rapid Barricade on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

TFO Tech Co., LTD (Jeffersonville) – Furnace Pulley Unloader

TFO Tech Co. LTD produces automotive wheel hubs, crankshafts, CVT pulleys, and other parts.

Workers had to manually rake 10- to 13-pound parts approximately 2.5 feet into a bin as the parts exited the heat treat furnace. The parts coming from the furnace are near 300 degrees Celsius, meaning excessive heat was a hazard. The raking motion also exposed workers to ergonomic hazards – shoulder, elbow, back, and chest were the main areas of the body affected.

The innovation drops down and encloses the parts in a steel frame. The frame slides the product off the side of the conveyor and into the basket. Rather than manually raking the parts, workers complete the process with the push of a button. This removes the physical (ergonomic) aspect of the process and reduces the employees’ heat exposure because the operator’s panel is about 5 feet farther from the hot parts than the original operating position.

Watch a video about TFO Tech Co., LTD.’s Furnace Pulley Unloader on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America (Hamilton) – Near Miss Reporting App

thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America manufactures shock absorbers for high-performance automobiles, motorsports, and off-road vehicles.

In a manufacturing facility that works around the clock with nearly 700 employees, unsafe acts and unsafe conditions were occurring. Unfortunately, they were often not reported, nor addressed. Before implementation, workers reported an average of four near misses per month, most coming from a few supervisors. Reporting was a cumbersome process, requiring the worker to download a four-page document from the intranet before completing it, printing it, and having it signed by multiple people.

This innovation changed the reporting process from a tedious paper document to a short, quick, and easy electronic submission via app. The company developed it using web-based software called Smartsheet. Now, any worker can submit the online form in the app, which inputs the information into a database similar to an Excel spreadsheet.

Near miss reports have increased from approximately 48 per year to more than 500 per year. The company’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable rate dropped from 3.03 to .91, and its lost-time accident rate dropped from 3.61 to 0.

Watch a video about thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America’s Near Miss Reporting App on BWC’s YouTube Channel.

Have you heard? Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable

By Jeffrey Hutchins, Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor

Hearing loss is something that can affect any of us not only at work, but in every aspect of our lives.

However, because noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens gradually over time, many of us don’t give it the attention it deserves.

That’s why the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) designates every October as National Protect Your Hearing Month. The NIDCD urges you to learn ways to protect yourself, your family and co-workers from NIHL. The following simple solutions from the NIDCD can go a long way toward protecting you from NIHL.

Turn down the volume
Set maximum volume limits on electronics and keep the volume low on music devices and TVs. Sounds at or above 85 A-weighted decibels (comparable to heavy city traffic) put you at risk for NIHL, especially if they last a long time. These days, earbuds are a common concern.

“There’s nothing wrong with earbuds that are producing sound at a low, nontoxic level. But earbuds are bad when you turn them up too loud,” says Dr. James Battey, director of the NIDCD. “My rule of thumb is, if an individual is standing at arm’s length from you and they can hear your earbuds … that noise is probably over 85 decibels and if delivered for a long enough time will cause noise-induced hearing loss.”

Move away from the noise
To reduce sound intensity and the impact of noise on your ears, increase the distance between you and the noise. Think of this simple step when you are near fireworks, concert speakers, or in a loud restaurant.

Wear hearing protection
Sometimes you can’t easily escape the sound, whether you’re at a movie theater, a concert, a sporting event or a noisy work environment. Earplugs or protective earmuffs can help. There is a single number required by law on each hearing protector called the noise reduction rating (NRR). The higher the NRR number, the more effective the protection. Be a good hearing health role model by wearing them yourself. If you don’t have hearing protectors, cover your ears with your hands.

In the workplace, think about the types of equipment or jobs that can cause hearing loss, such as:

  • Circular saws.
  • Chain saws.
  • Firing guns.
  • Air-powered ejection equipment.
  • Air-operated equipment without mufflers.
  • Metal stamping.
  • Machining operations.

Once you have identified the potential sources of loud noises, be sure to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your co-workers from the danger. The good news is NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life.

BWC can help
Our industrial hygienists can help you identify NIHL hazards in your workplace with on-site consultations. The BWC Library also has plenty of resources, including videos, about noise and hearing conservation.

Restaurant safety: It’s not just about food safety

By Ben Hissam, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant

Having worked in restaurants as a chef or chef manager for more than 10 years, I have seen first-hand the hazards of the industry.

I remember the long hours, usually working six nights a week. It is a demanding job that you have to really love, getting satisfaction from making people happy through your work.

When I came to BWC, I decided to help develop the restaurant safety class because of my industry experience. My days in the kitchen gave me insights into restaurant operations in the front and back of the house.

I remember starting in the restaurant industry, when everything was made from scratch. This often included hand cutting vegetables and salads, meats, potatoes and more. Prep work was, and still is, a large part of the job. Ergonomic-related injuries – including repetitive hand motions, prolonged standing, lifting produce cases, etc. – are some of the most common injuries in the business.

Other common hazards include cuts, burns, and slips, trips and falls. Unlike the imminent danger hazards in construction and manufacturing, hazards in restaurants tend toward first-aid types of injuries. Rarer are reportable injuries such as amputations or fatalities from entanglement in a large industrial mixer or buffalo chopper, which are more likely in food processing than in a restaurant.

The restaurant industry is partially exempt from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements. People attending the restaurant safety courses I teach say they are often more concerned with health department inspections.

Restaurant staff usually attend food safety classes, like servsafe, that focus on the safety of food prep and storage, areas the health department regulates. However, it’s also important they not overlook the standards that OSHA regulates in the restaurant industry, including:

  • Hazard communication – exposure to corrosive sanitation and cleaning chemicals.
  • Walking working surfaces – slippery or cluttered floors.
  • Machine guarding – powered equipment, slicers, mixers, etc.
  • Lock out – cord and plug control single point lock out.
  • Personal protective equipment – slip-resistant shoes, cut-resistant gloves, thermal protection etc.
  • Emergency action plans – one-way exit discharge blocked by trash staging in back of house.
  • Electrical – ground-fault circuit interrupter protection where conductive services are located.

Other hazards restaurants should address include awkward lifting and bending, and workplace violence, such as robbery or fights among employees.

We offer classroom and online courses to help restaurants address hazards and develop comprehensive safety plans to protect their workers. You can learn more or register online. I hope to see you in class!

Eye protection: Are you in the 35-percent group?

By Greg Collins, Industrial Safety Administrator for the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program

Eye Injury Prevention Month is here, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has some information that you may find surprising.

Each year, about 2.4 million people suffer an eye injury. Many people think these injuries mostly happen in the workplace. However, about half of all eye injuries occur in the home.

The reason for this becomes clearer when you look at the statistics. According to the AAO, only about 35 percent of people working on projects at home wear protective eyewear. Luckily, this eyewear is readily available from safety suppliers, hardware stores and home-improvement stores. When choosing safety eyewear, remember to look for a marking required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). You should see a marking on the earpiece or lens that says ANSI Z87.1 or just Z87.1.

When you think about it, there are many hazardous exposures in the home, for example cleaning chemicals or flying particles. The AAO believes every home should have at least one pair of protective eyewear. However, when working around the house, it’s best to just keep other family members, especially children, away from these hazards.

Another good rule of thumb is if you are using a power tool, use eye protection. Make it a habit to wear safety glasses when working on your car, driving nails and doing most other physical work.

In the workplace, employers should also determine the type of protective eyewear their employees should be wearing. Employers seeking help in making this determination can contact one of our safety consultants for expert advice.

The loss of eyesight is a terrible tragedy for anyone. It’s even more tragic when you realize these losses are so easily preventable by simply wearing protective eyewear. Whether you’re at home or work, always remember to protect this precious asset.

Additional resources
AAO – Preventing eye injuries
Indiana University – Eye safety reminders

BWC safety consultant’s career inspired by family

By Michelle Gatchell, External Communications

SC pic for blogMeet Ohio BWC Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist, Colleen Bolha from our Youngstown Service Office. She assists employers in Southern Mahoning County and Columbiana County with all their safety needs. Ohio employers receive safety consultation services from BWC free of charge as a benefit of their workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Last year Colleen consulted with 189 employers on a variety of safety issues. I had an opportunity to talk to Colleen, and find out a little about what she does and why.

What type of training or education do you have for this job?

I have my Associate Safety Professional (ASP) certification from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Bachelor of Science degree from Youngstown State University and I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Occupational Safety & Health from Columbia Southern University.

Why did you want to be an Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist?

Through prior experience working as a claims specialist here at the bureau, I saw the devastating impact workplace injuries can have on injured workers as well as employers. I thought it was a great opportunity to work at the other end of the spectrum with employers to help provide a safe workplace, hopefully avoiding having to work with a claims specialist by preventing injuries.

Also, my father, a retired Youngstown firefighter, was seriously injured years ago when he fell through a staircase while fighting a fire and I had an uncle who lost an arm in an industrial accident.

Firefighter pic for blog






Seeing them go through healing and just wanting to be back at work added into my motivation for this position to do it to the best of my ability.

Working as a claims specialist, we came across people whom because of their injury could never go back to work, and hearing what it was doing to them and their families, I know how important my job is to families and employees.

Do you remember doing your first consult with a company? What advice did you end up giving them?

I do remember when I first began as a safety consultant. It was in the midst of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) update to the Hazard Communication Standard and many employers requested assistance with training in this area. Whether they just needed training material or requested on-site training with their employees, I ensured they were ready to meet the changes to the standards by the OSHA deadlines.

What do you find most companies need consulting on?

I don’t think there is any one thing as this varies so much depending on the current needs of the employer.  Consulting with the employers opens up opportunities to see what’s happening at their facility and assisting in areas that might be in need they didn’t even consider.  It’s always a good thing to have another set of eyes conducting safety assessments of the workplace or to review written programs.  It’s also great to have the opportunity to consult with employers and make them aware, if they weren’t already, of all the services that are available to them.  Maybe they were aware of the industrial hygiene services but unaware of the safety grant money or the Safety and Hygiene Library resources.  Just being in contact with our customers is important.

Are there certain things all companies could improve that are simple to fix?

The most important thing I think is to include everyone. To develop a true safety culture, it’s very important for everyone from top to bottom to be involved in the safety process, not just a few people. Simply having everyone take responsibility for safety encourages participation and buy-in to the safety program. Doing this creates a great foundation for any safety program.

What do you find rewarding about your job?

Honestly, there are many rewarding things about this job.  It’s most rewarding to me, when after working with an employer, to perhaps assist in identifying and correcting an issue or to do some type of training, that I’m asked to return.  We work closely with employers and are treated like a welcomed part of that company.

It’s also rewarding to be a part of BWC, where we have a spectacular group of professionals that not only support our customer’s needs, but each other’s needs as well.  I’m really proud to be a part of the Youngstown team.

Do you find that you take the things you know as a safety consultant to your friends and family, and what advice do you usually share with them?

kids picThis is hard not to do, as it’s natural for everyone to want to protect the people you care about and to keep them safe.  I think the most I do is with my young nieces, and that’s probably in fire prevention.

We review our fire emergency plan and meeting place often.  I do stress to them why it’s so important to account for their safety in the case of an emergency. They are interested in what I’m doing and ask questions about what I’ve done each day. There probably aren’t many girls their ages (11 & 12) that are as familiar with OSHA standards as they are!

Is there a consult job that sticks with you because you really made a difference? What was it? And how did you improve safety in their world?

There is not one consult job that sticks with me; however, there is a group of them.  This group would be the group of employers that I have been fortunate enough to have worked with helping them to prepare to apply for safety intervention grants.  Working toward this goal with the employer involves some time and effort from both sides so it’s a good feeling of accomplishment when this comes to fruition.  Being involved in the entire process from start to finish of obtaining safety grant money for an employer is a memorable one because everybody benefits. The employer gets money to help pay for the safety intervention, and the employees get a safer work process when it is put into place.

I hope you enjoyed meeting one of our safety specialists here at BWC. Colleen is just one of more than 100 consultants around Ohio ready to help employers make their workplaces safer. You can request a consultant in your area by calling 1-866-569-7805 or visiting

Happy New Year… Reflecting on the past… Focusing on the Future

By Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent, BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

AbeAltarawnehFor most, the end of a year and beginning of a new one serves for reflection on the past year and resolution for a better oncoming year. Last month (December) I had the privilege of presenting to the BWC Board of Directors on the Division of Safety and Hygiene (DSH) Operations and Activities for Fiscal Year 2015 (July 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2015).

Needless to say, last year was very busy in terms of our continuing work to expand and initiate existing and new programs. With the BWC “Another Billion Back” initiative, the agency renewed its commitment to safety:

  • Launching the BWC Occupational Safety and Health Research Program;
  • Pledging $15 million each year in Safety Intervention Grants for FY2016 and FY2017;
  • Funding Fire Fighter I training for over 1,200 fire fighters;
  • Designing safety curricula to improve safety for younger workers in the skilled trades;
  • Expanding the Ohio Safety Innovations Competition;
  • Expanding the Safety Councils Program focus to include health and wellness.

19,000 employers served
All in all, close to 19,000 employers in Ohio utilized one or more of our services and programs during FY2015. To put this number in perspective, we worked with a little over 12,000 employers in FY2009.

Accounting for the value of prevention is an elusive undertaking. After all, how does one account for what hasn’t happened because of prevention? Here in Ohio, we have shown that directing resources into prevention does work, is worth doing, and we backed our words with actions to protect Ohio’s most valuable asset; its workforce.

Expansion of programs and services
Expanding our safety programs and services over the past few years has reflected on the number of injuries that register in our system, which went down by about 21 percent, while the reported payroll in our system has grown by about 12 percent during the same period. In 2012, we partnered with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to conduct the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) in Ohio. Since then, we and the BLS have reported SOII results for calendar years 2012-2014. SOII’s results also reflect our efforts in prevention with year after year decreases in injury severities and rates that are lower than the nation and Ohio’s neighboring states. As occupational safety and health practitioners we are elated by the fact that occupational injuries have been decreasing across the nation, and we are proud that the decreases in Ohio have surpassed those observed in the rest of the nation.

Last November, as the SOII results came out, Administrator Buehrer asked if I have an explanation of why the SOII results in Ohio are better than the rest of the nation and our neighboring states? I was at a loss for words at the time, because I really felt that I needed to pinpoint scientific reasons that lead to solid conclusions such as “Because we did this and this and this…, we ended up with this and this and this…” The Administrator knew very well the level of complexity involved in his question, and he understood my loss for solid answers. However, soon after, I realized the answer doesn’t require complex analyses of data and variables that cross time and geography. Rather, it rests in what we do for safety in Ohio with diligence and much pride, which most other states do not do.

From Safety Councils, to Safety Congress, to Safety Intervention Grants, to Training and Education Services, to Research, to partnerships with stakeholders, to on-site field consultations, we provide a unique, multi-level, participatory of safety programs and loss prevention services that are unparalleled throughout the nation. These offerings provide options for employers and their workers to pick and choose the most suitable for their operations and needs. Additionally, these multi-level options are accessible across the state throughout the year, making employers and workers participation easier at anytime.

Furthermore, BWC provides employers the option to participate in several rebate programs that have various safety program elements allowing these employers to improve their loss prevention efforts and consequently control their risks and can earn stackable rebates that reach up to 14% of their premiums. These programs include the Industry Specific Safety Program, the Drug-Free Safety Program, and the Safety Councils program.

Investing in the future
As we look to the future, we realize that our work is only beginning because we must continue to improve the quality and reach of our existing safety programs and services to live up to the expectations of our customers and meet the challenges of an ever changing world. To improve our effectiveness in reaching and working with more customers, we are working on equipping our field consultants with better mobile technology software and hardware. Through this effort, our consultants will spend much less time on non-value adding activities, which will be translated in their ability to spend more time working with their customers and attending to new ones. We also intend to launch a new fellowship program that will provide opportunities to university graduates to have formal and robust training in the professional fields of occupational safety, industrial hygiene, and ergonomics.

Jonas Salk once said “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”  I look forward to the opportunities 2016 will bring…

Do you hear what I hear?

By Jeff Hutchins, Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor

The holiday season is filled with a variety of sounds, from singing children to ringing bells.  But if you have difficulty hearing those children’s voices, or if there is ringing in your ears even when no bells are present, then you may be one of the approximately 10 million workers with noise-related hearing loss.1

Noise-related hearing loss is a painless, progressive and irreversible condition that is common in the United States.  In addition to hearing loss and tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears), noise exposure above 85 decibels (dB) has also been shown to cause elevated blood pressure, sleep disturbances and other stress-related illnesses.

Nearly 22 million American workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels every year1, and reducing noise exposure among Ohio’s workforce is one of the goals of the BWC Industrial Hygiene (IH) staff.  We conduct noise assessments of Ohio workplaces and recommend ways to reduce excessive noise levels.  Noise control measures may include enclosing a noisy machine or process, dampening vibrating surfaces, or silencing compressed air releases.

As a rule of thumb, when normal speech communication between individuals 3 – 4 feet apart becomes difficult, the noise level is approaching hazardous levels.  The chart below shows the noise levels of some common sounds.

When control measures alone cannot reduce the noise to acceptable levels, we assist employers in instituting a hearing conservation program.  A hearing conservation program contains elements to assure that employees:

  • Have regular hearing evaluations called audiograms;
  • Are provided proper hearing protection such as ear plugs or ear muffs;
  • Receive training about the actions they need to take to protect their hearing.

More information can be found in the BWC Educational Guide “What is Hearing Conservation?

This holiday season, don’t take for granted the gift of good hearing.  In 2016 , resolve to protect your hearing for years to come.



  1. NIOSH – Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention page (
  2. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety – OSH Answers Fact Sheets “Noise – Non-Auditory Effects” (


Check out the Division of Safety and Hygiene’s OSHA On-Site Consultation Program

By Greg Collins, Industrial Safety Administrator, On-site Consultation

Working with the BWC’s OSHA On-Site Consultation Program can provide many benefits to a small, high-hazard employers. Here are a few of the benefits available from working with us:

  • small employer - blog postGet cost-effective professional occupational safety and health consulting for your work site. Call 1-800-282-1425 and request a visit. The Program’s services are free to small, high-hazard employers. The majority of these services are paid for through a grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the rest by BWC’s Division of Safety and Hygiene.

high hazard employer - blog

  • Get free hazard detection services and advice on hazard corrections. Program consultants conduct surveys of your facility, and provide a report which lists the hazardous conditions discovered along with advice for correcting the hazards.
  • Get free industrial hygiene sampling of processes in your facility. Upon request, the program’s industrial hygienists will evaluate your operations, and then conduct the sampling necessary to determine what the levels of air contaminants or noise levels are in your facility. They will use this information to help put together advice for improving the conditions in your facility if necessary.
  • sharp logoImprove a safety and health management system so that it is an exemplary system. Using tools such as the program’s safety and health assessment worksheet, safety consultants will assist employers in evaluating their safety and health management systems, and provide advice for making improvements and charting progress. Successful participants may elect to participate in OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which is a program that recognizes companies with exemplary programs, and provides to them an exemption from general schedule OSHA inspections. SHARP is an OSHA program administered by BWC.
  • Receive conditional protection from general schedule OSHA inspections while working on improving your program. Participants in the consultation program receive what is referred to as “consultation in progress status.” This means that while an employer is working with the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program, OSHA will not conduct general scheduled inspections at your work site. OSHA will still respond to fatalities, complaints, recordkeeping self-reporting, and disasters at your work site during a consultation.

The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program conducts about 900 visits per year. Please consider joining these other employers who are benefiting from our services.

Click here to find out more about the Division of Safety and Hygiene.

Researching Our Way to a Safer Ohio

Call for research grant proposals due Nov. 23
by Bernard J. Silkowski, BWC Director of Technical Services & Support

Most of us pass by hundreds of road signs every day, rarely giving them a second thought. And if we do, I’ll wager it’s not about the thought that went into designing them.

Isign began thinking about this as a teen, after I was hired to paint a sign for my church.  How big should the lettering be?  How wide and long should I make the shaft of the directional arrow?  What’s the best size and shape for the arrowhead so it could be easily discerned by a passing motorist?  While making “parking in the rear” too small was unlikely to have dire consequences, the process made me wonder why highway signs are the way they are.

Now I know that human factors research has answered these types of questions, and, that the findings of that research have been incorporated into standards for highway signage.  These standards are effective because they allow passing motorists to quickly and clearly recognize the guidance the signs are conveying.  This improves highway safety and is a good example of turning research into practice.

This is what we hope to achieve with the BWC research grant program. We believe through research, experts can learn things that can be used to make Ohio’s workplaces safer. At this very minute, nine safety research studies funded by $2 million in grants from the BWC are underway at six Ohio universities.  These projects, due for completion in 2017, were chosen for their potential to positively affect the overall safety, health, productivity, and competitiveness of Ohio’s workforce.

cover smallOur current research grant projects
Three of these projects are targeting the health care industry, which had the third highest rate of injury in the state in 2014.  Another is studying how pushing and pulling activities cause low back and shoulder injuries, and another, the dynamic assessment of torque tools, both areas for which there has been surprisingly little research.  Other researchers are looking at certain aspects of the safety and health risks of stored grain facilities, preventing injuries using wearable computer technology, Total Worker Health, and integrating safety and ergonomics with lean and six sigma processes in manufacturing.

Call for research proposals
The second round of grants, which will total $1 million, is open to any college, university, or not-for-profit research institution located within Ohio.  Research proposals are welcome until 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 23 for any occupational safety and health (OS&H) topical area.  We are, however, particularly interested in the following areas:

  • Assessing the occupational exposure of firefighters to agents that lead to the development of occupational disease
  • Prevention of injuries
    • In the wholesale and retail sector
    • Among firefighters working for small firefighting divisions
    • Among construction workers (especially injuries caused by falls)
  • Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders
    • In the automotive service sector
    • Especially those disorders associated with back, shoulder, and knee
  • Studying treatment outcomes for back, knee, and shoulder injuries
  • Development of innovative solutions/methods/tools
    • To quantify the effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) for implementing OS&H or ergonomics interventions in the workplace
    • To improve OS&H management
    • To improve employees’ perceptions, participation, and commitment to safety in the workplace.

Other benefitsOhio Occupational Safety and Health Research Program cover-page-001
Putting the safety aspect aside for a moment, there are other benefits to this grant program.  It keeps employer premium dollars in the Buckeye State by investing them at our educational institutions and providing educational and employment opportunities for students and researchers.  Our industries become more competitive because improvements in safety, quality, and productivity go hand-in-hand.  The program fosters collaboration between academia and industry and helps make Ohio a center of safety proactivity, improvement and innovation—a name for which Ohio is becoming known nationally.

Can research be exciting? It certainly can when it leads to safer and more healthful workplaces.  That’s why we created the research program in the first place and always welcome ideas for future research projects.

For details about the Ohio Occupational Safety and Health Research Program and this year’s call for proposals, click here.