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The Fall Meeting is ISEA’s largest national meeting.  It’s a time for product groups and committees to do the essential work of the association – developing standards, formulating legislative and regulatory positions and planning for the future.  It’s also a time for member company representatives to network with peers in the industry, as well as regulators and other government officials and industry allies.

Program Highlights

Robert B. Hurley Distinguished Service Award presentation on December 3:
ISEA presented Christine Branche, Ph.D., the Principal Associate Director and the Director of the Office of Construction Safety and Health for NIOSH, with the prestigious Robert B. Hurley Distinguished Service Award, at the Award Dinner on December 3. In her acceptance remarks, Christine Branche noted her appreciation for the support she continues to receive from ISEA and its members and particularly how ISEA members stood behind the ‘National Safety Stand-Down’ campaign.

ISEA members heard the following presentations at the December 4 general session:
William (Bill) Perry, Director of the Directorate of Standards and Guidance (DSG) at OSHA, gave an update on  the OSHA regulatory agenda, with emphasis on rules and actions that are important to ISEA member companies.
Bill expressed confidence that the long-delayed final rule on Walking Working Surfaces and Fall Protection will be published in June 2015.  Also of interest to fall protection is a request for information on communication tower safety, the result of consultation between OSHA, FAA and the industry, which will be published in the near future.

Proposed rules to update references to voluntary standards in OSHA standards will no longer go through the direct final rule process, in which a proposed rule and an identical final rule are published at the same time, with the direct final rule going into effect if no comments are received on the proposed rule.   Perry said the agency has found it really doesn’t save time, and in the future they’ll publish the changes as proposed rules with a 30-day comment period.  This will apply to the proposal to update references to ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 for eye and face protection, in the OSHA PPE regulations.

OSHA expects to publish a proposed rule on a quantitative fit test protocol for respirators, and the final rule on confined spaces in construction, in March 2015.

In December OSHA will publish the fourth standards improvement process (SIPS) rule that will include a proposal that PPE must fit the wearer, a provision that ISEA has pressed the agency to adopt.

Healthcare related agenda items at OSHA include a proposed rule on preventing exposures to infectious diseases.  OSHA plans to wrap up its Small Business Review by the end of December, 2014, and will begin to craft a proposed rule on infectious diseases.

Perry also reviewed a new OSHA matrix showing the PPE recommended for workers exposed to Ebola in various scenarios.  He noted that the matrix is not just for health care workers, but anyone who may be exposed in a work environment.

Marty Thompson, the Site Director at the Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center (LCMMC) for Northrop Grumman Technical Services, is responsible for managing the facilities and infrastructure necessary to provide support to all programs located at the site. In 2014, the LCMMC facility successfully logged more than a million man-hours without a lost-workday injury.  He described the process by which the facility achieved this milestone, which was driven by data and application of lean six-sigma principles to safety by Maurice Ragland, the NGTS Manager for Process Management and Integration.

Workers at the facility were being injured every 3.6 days on average, but management found it couldn’t predict the cause, location or severity of injuries.  They began to record near misses as well as incidents, and focused on the elapsed time between injuries as a data point.  They involved the workers in planning as well as running the program, and incorporated a one-day-at-a-time approach.  Each worked focused on “not getting hurt today,” and repeated the process every day.

Marty stated that supervisors are a key component to the success of the program, and employees have to understand that “everybody needs to care.”  Noting that “what gets measured gets managed”, one of the techniques the company used was to urge peer-to-peer identification of unsafe practices, with workers constantly coaching each other.

ISEA members had some interesting questions for both Marty and Maurice, who was present in the audience to answer questions. Marty and Maurice were forthcoming in discussing the importance of a culture change and found that personalizing the injuries made a difference in how employees responded to the new safety culture . They discussed the importance of balancing the budget to include increased expenses for PPE as part of performance and safety improvements. Marty also noted the importance of a top led safety mindset, where directional safety changes are heavily supported and led from Northrup Grumman’s executive offices. Marty’s presentation is available in the ISEA members only ‘Presentations’ portal.

Also at the general session, ISEA members heard presentations on the 2015 Strategic Plan and budget, and summaries of the product group and committee activities and priorities. A robust communications plan for 2015 will provide increased visibility to ISEA and its members to additional audience groups and plans for an updated website will include a new ‘Knowledge Center’. Protection Update, the association’s user focused publication, will re-launch as an electronic publication in the first quarter of 2015.  Through a partnership with the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health publication, the newly designed Protection Update will support videos and links for an improved reading experience.

Fall Meeting Luncheon:
Jonathan Karl, the chief White House correspondent for ABC News, was the speaker for the luncheon.  Known for his energetic and probing reporting style, he took the ISEA audience on a lively and informative presentation on Capitol Hill that included a ‘best-of’ video of his questions, incorporating what he has learned from his many years covering domestic and foreign affairs. Jonathan discussed the Senate confirmation of soap opera producer Colleen Bell as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and the time he pressed the White House Press Secretary about her qualifications, he discussed the upcoming Presidential elections and possible candidates from both political parties and his outlook on the future of the American system of government. View Jonathan’s video from the presentation.