As established in Mexico’s Constitution, all Mexican laws [posted at www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/index.htm] fall within two categories: Generales
As established in Mexico’s Constitution, all Mexican laws [posted at www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/index.htm] fall within two categories: Generales are specific laws created by state authorization; and, Federales encompass nationwide laws upheld in every state. Environmental law is General, while labor law is Federal.
Subsumed under laws are Reglamentos, or regulations, which are more numerous for environmental than for safety governance. Environmental regulations can be found at www.semarnat.gob.mx/leyesynormas/Pages/reglamentosdelsector.aspx; and, safety regulations are posted at www.stps.gob.mx/reglamentos_stps.htm.
The application of regulations involves both mandatory standards Û known as NOM for Norma Oficial Mexicana Û and recommended standards. Mandatory standards can be found at www.economia-noms.gob.mx/. Once at the web site, clicking on the bars provides a link to updated standards: SEMARNAT for environmental, and STPS for safety.
Additionally, nonmandatory standards Û known as NMX for Norma Mexicana Û are not binding, unless a mandatory regulation establishes that a specific NMX must be followed. The link for NMX is www.economia-nmx.gob.mx/.
AED COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a small device that delivers an electronic shock to a heart attack victim to restart the heart. While AEDs are required in some public places, nuclear plants, airplanes, and other places, regulations mandating their availability at most industrial or construction sites are lacking.
Some basic facts may be helpful in evaluating whether an automated external defibrillator should be purchased and made available for a particular plant:
I. Need [statistics vary among organizations]
- About 375,000 to 450,000 Americans suffer heart attacks each year
- 90 percent of heart attack victims die annually
- 70 percent of heart attack victims treated with AEDs within 10 minutes of the attack will survive. Following 10 minutes after the heart attack, about 2 percent survive. Thus, placement of the device is critical.
- Although a heart attack can happen at any age, it occurs most commonly in middle-aged and older Americans. Our workforce is aging.
- Standard CPR alone resuscitates between 2 percent and 15 percent of heart attack victims, depending on the source of statistics. These figures are a bit hazy, since 10 percent of heart attack victims survive, and it is unclear if such data include CPR.
- The average wall-mounted AED unit costs approximately $1,300.
- Training in AED use is required and should include CPR training.
- Regular unit inspections are required to assure batteries are fully charged.
III. Regulations, Standards, and Organizations
- No Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulations currently require provision of an on-site AED unit for the concrete products industry.
- OSHA VIP program evaluations typically recognize AED availability as a positive step towards certification or recertification.
- A variety of state AED regulations [available at www.clubsafety.com/aedstateregs.htm] apply primarily to training requirements associated with AED use.
- The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that those who are responsible for operating AEDs must also receive CPR training as an integral part of providing life-saving aid to people suffering sudden cardiac arrest [www.cpr-ecc.org]. AHA provides AED program-planning assistance [at www.uil.utexas.edu/athletics/health/pdf/AED_implementation.pdf].
- The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association provides an overview of sudden cardiac arrest with links to information on the impact of AEDs, legal considerations, community program components, on-site AED measures, and examples of successful programs [www.suddencardiacarrest.org/].
- The American Red Cross, AHA, MSHA, OSHA and other regulatory agencies and organizations consistently recommend an AED program addressing unit availability, regular inspections, and on-site operational training.
Ultimately, a go-ahead to provide an AED unit may hinge on a decision maker’s experience with heart attacks Û either personally or among employees, family, and friends. Recommended locations for AEDs include places where people congregate, such as production areas and cafeterias. Other recommended AED sites include company exercise rooms, confined space entry locations, electrical powered equipment, outdoor work areas where lightning may occur, and construction or remote plant sites where 911 response times are not immediate.
OSHA LETTERS ISSUED
On March 4, Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin Foulke sent a letter to the 14,000-plus employers that incurred the highest occupational injury and illness rates, urging them to take action to remove hazards. OSHA considered a high incidence rate to include 5.4 or more injuries or illnesses that resulted in days away from work, restricted work, or job transfer for every 100 full-time workers. The national average is 2.3.
The ÎBig Brother is WatchingÌ letter encouraged employers to consider hiring an outside safety and health specialist, consult their insurance carrier, or contact the state workers’ compensation agency for advice. OSHA also emphasized that an excellent way for employers with 250 or fewer workers to address safety and health is to ask for assistance from OSHA’s on-site consultation program. Accordingly, a consultation program administered by state agencies Û separately from OSHA inspection Û is offered at no cost and involves no fines, even if problems are found. The letter details how the OSHA consultation program in the employer’s state can be contacted. Whether companies so targeted may expect to receive additional attention upon inspection is unclear; nonetheless, letter recipients would be well advised to closely evaluate their OSHA-compliance programs.
AMERICAN INDUSTRY INCIDENCE RATE
OSHA’s Act of 1970 was prompted by the American industry’s apparently escalating accident rate, which was countered by federal intervention deemed essential to establish a standard of care. Yet, what is known today as ÎincidentÌ rate was referred to then as Î accidentÌ rate, and accident statistics were rather dubious. Actually, independent statistics showed the rate to be improving since the end of World War II.
OSHA’s heavy handedness, some say, caused the accident rate to suffer over 23 years following the 1970 enactment. While one contention is that the decline can be attributed to a severe adversarial and punitive environment created by the federal government with the advent of some 5,500 compliance-costly regulations Û splitting safety efforts from the company’s interests Û no definitive conclusion has been drawn.
Profit-making is the primary aim of a business; and, while some argue that it is the most self-serving of goals, financial realities dictate that a profit is essential to staying in operation. Repeatedly, companies with healthy profits take pride in exceeding regulations to provide a strong internal safety program to ensure the health and safety of their workers.
Because safety requires an up-front financial investment, however, difficulties arise when a company is struggling for profits Û a challenge common among new operations. A company in financial straits cannot accept additional cost that yields no proven return. Few company executives are fools: they know that elaborate safety programs do not always yield low incidence rates, while some seemingly innocuous safety programs yield excellent results. The unresolved question of why this difference occurs can be answered best by defining key components of the culture in which the program is implemented.
In some safety meetings, a senior manager may make a forceful statement, We don’t want anyone to get hurt! Since such displays often result from frustration due to a high incidence rate, a desperate look in the eyes may reveal the speaker’s sincerity. Ironically, low-key executives at safety meeting typically represent companies that boast healthy profits in addition to extensive safety, health and environmental programs, as well as excellent incidence rates.
All companies are different, and they develop unique cultures. Companies under the direction of ego-driven executives, such as sociopaths, alcoholics, or impaired individuals suffering from a limited capacity for empathy, would not be expected to provide the same level of care as businesses headed by healthy officials. Such dilemmas occur more frequently than might be expected by the naive observer.
Nonetheless, a positive development is the steady improvement in incidence rate for American workers overall since 1993. Equipment and tools available in the U.S. are continually upgraded to include new safety devices and safeguards. Today, most people would assert that the workplace safety culture is better than ever, and statistics lend weight to the observation.