|2004 OSHSPA Report > State innovations: technical advances|
|State innovations: technical advances|
Alaska has recently acquired a high-speed scanner to allow for electronic transmission of records in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. This has produced a much more efficient way to quickly respond to requests.
Use of videoconference equipment in meetings and training
Having several locations in the state that support videoconference, the program has extensively used videoconference as an effective tool for managers to attend meetings locally, rather than traveling to the meeting location. It has been a benefit to many managers and an effective use of their time. Training can now be viewed at several locations in the state for those who do not have to be physically present at the training site.
Testing and development of wireless communication
Field work is best supported by the concept of the virtual office. Today, there are many options to link with the Internet, information network and federal integrated management information system without having to be in the office. Cellular phones and wireless data link provide information and act as a conduit to receive and send information.
Fourth-generation digital camera deployment
Advances in digital photography, coupled with a law enforcement system for data retrieval and cataloging, provide field personnel the ability to review pictures of the site immediately and prepare cases without having to wait for film processing. The new systems also can take short video clips using the same camera, effectively giving the field personnel a camera and camcorder in one unit.
Update of industrial hygiene equipment and testing of new products in the market
This has been ongoing. As a result, some old equipment has been replaced with modern versions that are easier to carry and are user friendly, such as photo ionization detector equipment, personal air sampling pumps, etc.
Improvement of Web sites (Technology Services and Calico Lab)
This resulted in increased access and better information management. Posting the information at the site that can be accessed by all concerned provides information dissemination. Because the sites can be accessed from all locations, information can best be sent and updated to all using this site.
Use of the global positioning system (GPS) as a locating tool to accurately describe the site when landmarks or street information is not available
More and more, field operations have used GPS information to give an accurate location of the site. It is also used to guide field personnel to the site using geological maps.
Text messaging on cell
Text messaging provides field personnel for assignments and scheduling of work. It also is an inexpensive way of broadcasting information to all field personnel or to selected groups of field personnel.
In fiscal-year 2002, Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) initiated a centralized database that allows management to view field inspection data in "real time." During fiscal-year 2004, improvements and additions to the centralized database were made that included inventory control, as well as access to staff training data, video library, MPIA responses and accounts receivables. Independent of the federal integrated management information, MOSH has linked administrative and regional databases. This allows management real-time information about case location and processes ranging from citation issuance to the appeals process.
Michigan continues to update its Internet capabilities, to provide improved access to standards, education and training materials, and employee/employer forms. In fiscal-year 2004, Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) produced its first online training program. The training, a PowerPoint presentation, provides an overview of the MIOSHA Standard Part 554, Bloodborne infectious diseases (BID), in a train-the-trainer format.
Employees can now file a notice of alleged safety and health violation (complaint) via e-mail. The form may be completed and submitted via the Internet. A copy of the completed form is sent to the appropriate enforcement division. MIOSHA has also released Forms 300, 300A and 301 in Microsoft Excel. This allows employers to record information in an electronic format using a personal computer.
MIOSHA public notices of new, amended and rescinded standards are now being sent via the Internet. In addition, MIOSHA standards are available in both hypertext mark-up language (HTM or HTML) and portable document format (PDF). This dual format allows greater access to employees and employers who may need accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
MNOSHA conducts ongoing evaluations of potential new equipment and technology. In fiscal-year 2004, MNOSHA evaluated: a laser trench measuring device; digital voice recorders; higher strength zoom digital cameras; and a new handheld computer device. As a result of these evaluations, MNOSHA decided to purchase digital voice recorders for safety investigators. The interviews conducted during an inspection are now saved on CD with the digital pictures. The higher strength zoom digital camera has been purchased for construction and Greater Minnesota investigators. The handheld computer device was found to be most useful for health and Greater Minnesota investigators. Another pilot group will use these devices in fiscal-year 2005.
In an effort to become more efficient and customer-service oriented, MNOSHA began making forms available online. Employers can access several progress report and notice of contest forms.
Nevada OSHA and the Safety Consultation and Training Section continually strive to take advantage of currently available technological advances. The introduction of digital cameras during inspections and consultation visits, combined with the procurement of new computers, has increased the effectiveness and efficiency of compliance officers and consultants. The inherent gains in the processing speed and memory of the newer computers allowed digital imaging to be a feasible alternative to conventional photos. The consultants provide the photos of the hazards as part of their service, so companies can use these in their training. It was evident from the onset that digital imaging reduced operating costs compared to the use of conventional photos; the costs of film and photo processing were virtually eliminated.
North Carolina has fully implemented the CSHO and consultant applications. This is a stand-alone system that supports time-efficient report preparation in the field. This approach translates into less report writing time and more on-site inspection activity. The state has also become a key player in the integrated management information system redesign effort through participation on the Information Systems Council.
Puerto Rico OSHA’s Legal Division worked on the amendment of Regulation 1903 to take videos and digital photos without court delays.
The Office of South Carolina OSHA Enforcement made the move to digital cameras three years ago. They have been well-received by the inspectors and other staff members who review case files. The cameras print directly onto a disc, which is placed with the file for easy access for review. Because the cameras use small discs, one is used for each inspection. There have not been any technical or legal issues to date.
Tennessee OSHA has equipped all compliance officers with five mega pixel digital cameras capable of recording digital video. The digital photographs are used to document case files and can also be used as a training aid.
Tennessee OSHA publishes, on its Web site, an annual review of fatalities investigated during the previous year, including any citation that may be issued.
Tennessee OSHA now digitally scans all closed inspection files. This allows electronic access to these files in all Tennessee OSHA area offices. It also eliminates the need for shelf storage of the files.
Utah has commenced using special software that allows still frames to be made from inspection videos. The still frames are used to document specific safety and health violations. Utah also uses special hardware to allow inspectors to view inspection videos on their computer monitors.
All inspectors have digital cameras for use on inspections. Transfer of digital photos is now made to the Windows EX-version of the PC CSHO Consultation Application that runs on updated PCs that have color printing and DVD storage and retrieval for case file data and related photography.
Virginia now uses the Web-based Whistle Blower application for handling discrimination cases and running reports. In addition, overall information technology system security has been enhanced and upgraded. Novell Netware has been added.
In 2002, Washington began implementation of a new Web-based system for collecting WISHA inspection and consultation visit data. The consultation application in the WISHA Information Network (WIN) was implemented in August 2002. The compliance application was implemented in April 2003. Consultants and compliance inspectors are responsible for direct entry of visit-related data into the system, which reduced lag times by replacing redundant processes. In the past, paper forms were completed either by hand or electronically and submitted to the central office for data entry into the federal integrated management information system (IMIS).
Many data fields are now pre-filled with employer information transported from Washington’s industrial insurance data system or WISHA data entered on a previous screen, improving consistency and data integrity. Another significant advantage of the WIN system that enhances the quality of WISHA’s data was the ability to build in "business rules," so all required information must be entered correctly before the record can be saved and forwarded to the supervisor for review and approval. The supervisory review process includes electronic approval signatures, but supporting documentation in paper files is still reviewed as well. While there have been some unexpected challenges to overcome, the development and implementation of Washington’s WIN system, with its resulting efficiencies and improved timeliness, has been a resounding success.
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