Breathe easy: BWC can help tackle respirable silica in the workplace

By Jeffrey Hutchins, Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor

Did you know the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began enforcing the construction standard for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) last month?

Do you know what the standard includes and how to stay in compliance with it?

The standard establishes a new eight-hour time weighted average permissible exposure limit of 50 µg/m3 for all covered industries. It also requires other employee protections, such as:

  • Performing exposure assessments;
  • Using exposure control methods and respiratory protection;
  • Offering medical surveillance;
  • Developing hazard communication information;
  • Keeping silica-related records.

BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene has a variety of resources to help Ohio employers understand and meet the requirements of the new standard. These resources are available at no charge as part of the loss-prevention services provided through Ohio workers’ compensation premiums. Services include:

  • On-site industrial hygiene consulting to determine airborne RCS levels and, if needed, assistance in developing a written exposure control plan. Request on-site consultation
  • Safety Intervention Grants to help purchase engineered dust-control solutions. Learn more
  • Training focused on awareness-level RCS hazards and respiratory protection. Learn more
  • Additional resources such as videos and the latest publications from the Division of Safety & Hygiene Library. Learn more

BWC’s industrial hygienists have years of experience in the field and conduct RCS sampling and analysis using the methods specified in the OSHA standard. Training courses focus on topics related to the standard (e.g., respiratory protection and respirator fit testing).

Our latest safety video provides an overview of respirable silica in the workplace, including where silica is found, requirements of the new OSHA standard and elements of a silica exposure control program.

Visit our website to request consulting services.

We want you to present at OSC18!

By Julie Darby-Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have knowledge to share that can keep workplaces safe and healthy?

Are you good in front of a crowd?

If so, you could be a potential presenter for our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2018 (OSC18), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event.

We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 7 – 9, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC18 will feature more than 200 educational sessions taught by experts from across the nation. Topics include:

  • Safety management;
  • Government and regulation;
  • Health, wellness and rehabilitation;
  • Emergency preparedness and response;
  • Workers’ compensation;
  • Driving and transportation;
  • Training and education;
  • Personal protective equipment;
  • And much more.

We are seeking one-hour educational sessions, panel discussions and live demonstrations as well as three-hour and six-hour workshops. For OSC18, we are particularly interested in topics related to slips, trips and falls, overexertion, and motor vehicle accidents. These injury types comprise more than 60 percent of Ohio’s workplace injuries.

Typical attendees include occupational safety and risk-management directors, workers’ compensation managers, health and wellness leaders, and individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health, wellness, rehabilitation and medical treatment of injured workers.

We’re accepting applications until July 31. For application guidelines and to register, visit our call for presentations site. Want to get a glimpse of the event? Take a look back at our OSC17 Twitter recap.

Ergonomics Month spotlight: Lima company not just going through the (repetitive) motions

By Melissa Vince, BWC Public Relations Manager

Here’s a recipe for workplace injury. Just start with a 17-step manufacturing process that produces 50 parts per hour. Mix in at least 7,200 hand motions per employee over each eight-hour shift. Repeat the process day in and day out and the end result is quite unappetizing: an elevated risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis.

That was the dilemma Randall Bearings, Inc. faced as the company went about its work to manufacture precision machined products, primarily bronze material, for its clients in a number of industries around the world. So the Lima company introduced a new ingredient that protects its employees from injury by reducing repetitive motion.

The company purchased this robotic arm that grasps parts and maneuvers them throughout the 17-step process involved in the manufacturing process.


The new addition is reducing the risk of injury to employees.

“We are excited about the possibilities this provides for a safer work environment for our associates,” said Mary Dupes, Human Resources Director for Randall Bearings.

Hear from Dupes and BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison in this WLIO–TV Lima story.


Also, National Ergonomics Month is a great time to consider how you can improve ergonomics in your workplace. Mike Lampl, BWC’s Ergonomics Technical Advisor, offers some insight into ergonomics and tips for avoiding injuries in his latest blog here.

Why research?

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

I can’t think of a better time than now to work on research for advancing occupational safety and health. Then I realize I thought this last year, the year before and every year before. Why? Because our knowledge in this area is accumulating at an accelerated rate allowing us to learn more, get better at what we do and then explore more.

Thanks to advances in technology and computing, we can learn things about the human mind and body that 20 years ago we couldn’t imagine we would ever learn. These advances have allowed us to translate centuries of knowledge in math, physics, chemistry and biology into countless engineering and technology solutions. In turn, this allows us to devise experiments through which we can capture observations we could not have imagined before.

Earlier this month, Risk & Insurance (R&I) reported on BWC’s Occupational Safety and Health Research Program. Needless to say, R&I reporter Michelle Kerr provided an excellent summary of the research projects funded by BWC that many fine researchers in six major higher education and research institutions in Ohio are undertaking. I’d like to take this opportunity to elaborate.

Out of the nine projects funded by BWC, four projects at The Ohio State University (OSU), Case Western Reserve (CWR) and Cleveland State University (CSU) use state-of-the-art technology to capture experimental data and observations that researchers could not capture before. For example, researchers at OSU’s Spine Research Center – led by William Marras, Ph.D. – are performing an experiment to model spinal compression and shear forces experienced by subjects performing pushing and pulling tasks using real-time data acquisition systems consisting of 42 cameras and wearable Lumbar Motion Monitors. OSU lab

They funnel this data from more than 20 sensors and 42 cameras into a model that provides real-time analyses of the spinal compression and shear forces experienced by the subject at any point of time during the experiment. Not only that, they  are using a programmable testing rig for simulating pushing and pulling tasks encountered by workers in real work environments.

CSU is using somewhat similar technology to capture observations on body movements encountered by health-care workers while performing patient handling tasks in a nursing home environment.

SubjectPushTurnMeanwhile, researchers at OSU have devised a programmable testing rig that can account for forces encountered by workers operating powered wrenches. CWR researchers are designing a shoe insole that captures real-time gait data from construction and wholesale/retail workers. It then transmits this data to an iWatch for further analyses at a later time.

Those among us who still remember Atari could not imagine there would be a time when something like Pokémon Go exists. Much like technology has moved from Atari arcade games to XBOX Call of Duty, it has also radically changed what researchers can do in and outside research laboratories to unprecedented levels. These research projects will not only provide recommendations for improving safety, but will improve use of technology in this type of research for more and improved future research work in this area. Through that, technology solutions for preventing injuries caused by overexertions as well as slips, trips, and falls are becoming closer to reality than ever before.

There is no one research project among these that is enough. However, collectively they will add to our knowledge and ability to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses and improve safety. So, why research? The answer is simple. Research advances our knowledge and, throughout history, better knowledge is the single common denominator for improving lives.

How much is saving a life worth to you?

By Ellen S. Nasner, BWC Education and Training Services Manager

The success and worth of education and training are difficult to measure, even if you administer evaluations, tests, etc.   We train and educate people to be safe, which inherently is hard to measure because a workplace primarily reports when something was not done safely and the result was an injury or accident of some type. By definition SAFETY means “the condition of being protected for or unlikely to cause danger, risk or injury.” So, for the more than 400 classes and thousands of online courses we deliver each year, it is not often we are able to measure how much saving a life is worth.

Recently a woman that took one of our classes notified us about how worthy it was to her in saving a life. The Director of Financial and Administrative Services at Salem-Pacific Rubber attended a First Aid in the Workplace class at our Canton Service Office. She emailed us the following story of how she helped save a life based on the training she received from BWC.

“Yesterday, an employee was experiencing what he thought was a heart attack.  The second shift foreman came to my office for me to come out on the plant floor for assistance.  The employee was conscious Aspirin between fingers.and able to talk to me, so I got him aspirin to put under his tongue to let it dissolve and told him not to drink any water.  I called 911 for an ambulance that transported him to the emergency room. This morning, I received a phone call from that employee.  He said:  “thank you for saving my life.”  He was told that the aspirin had saved him. He had a blockage and had a stent put in last night and is doing well.  Please let the instructor of the First Aid in the Workplace know how grateful I am for his class, and that the BWC offers it as well!”

How much is saving a life worth to you – or your family and loved ones?  We think priceless…and all of our education and training is available to BWC policyholders at no cost day-in and day-out.  If you are an employer or employee of an entity that pays workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio, why not take advantage of your BWC benefits?  You just might save a life – and then you can tell us how much our education and training is worth to you.

Visit the Education and Training Services section of the Division of Safety & Hygiene Services Catalog at to see the classes available to you…and how to enroll today!