The new law prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, taxis and most workplaces. By law, a hotel will be required to designate no more than 20% of rooms as smoking, with 80% designated as smoke-free. Smoking will be prohibited within 10 feet of doors, windows and air ducts for non-smoking buildings.
Smoking will still be permitted on the gambling floors in casinos, although other casino areas must be non-smoking. Tobacco shops can still permit smoking. Smoking is permitted in designated indoor areas of outdoor recreation clubs such as hunting clubs and golf clubs, but only in areas where minors are banned. Certain other private clubs formed before January 1, 2009 can permit smoking if they notify the state by September 28, 2010 of their intention to do so.
The Kansas smoking ban requires that every employer have a written policy that prohibits smoking in the workplace. The employer must communicate the non-smoking policy to all employees, by prominently displaying non-smoking posters and signs.
There’s a common perception about ATVs. The perception is that the sporty machines are easy to operate. The perception is wrong – dead wrong.
It’s a fatal misperception for recreational users. And as the ATV becomes a more common part of the workplace, it’s a deadly notion for employees and employers as well.
A new Kansas OSHA alert points out that as workplace use of ATVs increases, so do accidents, some of them fatal. In the past 10 years, ATVs on the job have taken the lives of 100 workers.
The problem? Many workers are just not getting the training needed to operate ATVs, according to the Kansas Department of Labor and Kansas OSHA. A new bulletin is attempting to rectify the situation by describing just what the operating guidelines should be, and what training program employers should make use of to try to reduce the risks to employees.
Training is key, says the Kansas worker safety alert. Beyond training, operating practices need to be changed. For example, the guidelines stress the need for wearing helmets, and to stick closely to the ATV manufacturers’ suggested operation procedures.
The fact is that ATVs are usually a recreational vehicle. The fact that children often drive them, gives some people the impression that ATVs are simple to drive. Another common misperception is that ATVs handle like a car. However, that’s not the case. Both of those perceptions are false. ATVs handle entirely differently from cars or trucks. The result is frequent rollovers.
Deaths in recreational use are in fact increasing drastically, and demonstrate a serious trend. In 1982, 29 people died in recreational ATV accidents. Just 22 years later, in 2004, the death toll was up to a staggering 470. Injuries hit a high, at 136,000. In a single decade, 800,000 ATV injuries were reported.
The Kansas worker safety alert guidelines for operation broadly cover any machine that meets a certain definition. It applies to an off-road vehicle that’s motorized, uses low-pressure tires, and has a seat that the operator straddles. The machines covered are to be operated by a single driver. No passengers are to be included. Small amounts of equipment may be carried on rear or front storage racks.
Influenza pandemics in the past have resulted in a significant loss of life. We’re all familiar with the flu, but a recent Kansas OSHA alert points out that an influenza pandemic is a real possibility and could be a hazard in the workplace. When we think about the flu, most of us think about the annoying symptoms. We don’t think of the flu as life threatening to anyone other than infants, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems.
As the Kansas OSHA alert points out, though, if a flu pandemic occurs, the consequences could be immense. A pandemic occurs when a disease has a worldwide outbreak. A new form of influenza could emerge, and no one would be immune to it. Although researchers would scramble to develop a vaccine, in the meantime, the virus could spread around the world.
In 1957, the flu pandemic resulted in 1 million deaths. This sounds like a lot until you consider that the Spanish Flu of 1918 resulted in 25 million deaths in 25 weeks. Many people who contracted the Spanish Flu died within hours.
A pandemic flu outbreak becomes a concern for everyone regardless of his or her age and health status. If a new strain of influenza would appear, everyone would be susceptible to it. While a vaccine was in development, this new flu could quickly spread around the globe.
One pandemic possibility being watched is avian influenza or bird flu. The concern is that this disease could spread from birds to humans. At the moment, this disease has spread from wild birds to domestic birds, such as chickens and turkeys. One type of bird flu has even transmitted from infected birds to humans. The fear is that the virus will mutate, and then it could transfer from one person to another easily, thereby causing a pandemic.
Regardless of the source, OSHA feels employers and employees should be prepared for this workplace hazard in case a flu pandemic does occur. If the worst-case possibility happens, many people could die during the pandemic. If the best-case possibility happens, the flu would simply be more severe than normal. Either way, the time to prepare is before a pandemic occurs.
The point of a recent Kansas OSHA Alert is to warn employers and workers about recalled chainsaws that can pose a safety threat. This recall affects four models of Troy-Bilt chainsaws and one Craftsman model. These chainsaws are popular and used in industries such as landscaping, lumbering, and construction.
The Troy-Bilt chainsaws impacted by this recall are those with gasoline-powered, two-cycle 46cc to 55cc engines. These chainsaws have cutting blades that measure 18 inches or 20 inches. The Craftsman chainsaw impacted by this recall is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This chainsaw has a two-cycle, 55cc gasoline engine and an 18-inch cutting blade.
To protect workers, employers should make certain these chainsaws are not used until they are properly fixed. A free replacement kit is available for the recalled chainsaws. To receive a kit, which includes a replacement handle and installation instructions, contact the manufacturer or OSHA.
The recalled chainsaws have caused injuries, and reports of problems have been made to OSHA. Among the injuries reported, workers have been severely cut, bruised, and burned by the chainsaws once they became difficult to control. If the chainsaws are used before they are properly fixed, injuries and even death can result.
Along with the two manufacturers, OSHA worked with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The mission of CPSC is to protect consumers, families, workers, and children from unreasonable risks posed by consumer products. Over 15,000 types of consumer products fall under the jurisdiction of this agency.
This agency is committed to protecting the public from possible property damage, injuries, and deaths as a result of incidents involving these products. Incidents with products include electrical, chemical, and mechanical hazards as well as products that can injure children. The CPSC attempts to reduce the nation’s cost due to consumer product incidents. Currently these incidents cost the nation over $700 billion each year due to deaths, injuries, and damage to property.
The Kansas OSHA 300 form is always made public each year between February 1 to April 30. The 2007 form re-caps work-related injuries and illnesses that happened in 2006.
OSHA policies were created by the federal government to help protect employees in the workplace. While most states are covered by the federal OSHA program, there are 23 states that are not. Unlike Kansas, Alaska and 22 other states have opted out of the federal OSHA program and created their own.
Worker safety organizations are responsible for creating the policies of state OSHA plans. By federal law, state OSHA plans must have policies comparable to the federal OSHA. In Kansas, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA is responsible for setting and enforcing the regulations.
The Kansas OSHA offers free on-site workplace safety consultations for employers, occupational safety and health training, and educational programs. The state OSHA also requires that employers make the number of accidents in their workplaces or workplace-related illnesses public. Individuals wanting to know these numbers should check out the Kansas OSHA 300 form.
In order to have their own OSHA program, states need to have their plans approved by the federal government. Federal approval requires a development plan that assures the federal government that the state can run its own program within three years.
To run its own OSHA program, a state needs to prove that it will have in place all the elements necessary to run an effective occupational health and safety program. Federal OSHA regulations say a state needs to have the following in order to have a state-run worker safety organization:
- Apropriate legislation
- Regulations and procedures for standards setting
- Enforcement and the means for enforcement (that is an adequate number of qualified enforcement personnel)
- Appeal of citations and penalties
A few of the states with approved state OSHA plans are Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Washington and Wyoming.