|2005 OSHSPA Report > State innovations: technical advances|
|State innovations: technical advances|
Alaska Occupational Safety and Health (AKOSH) purchased a high-speed scanner capable of scanning entire case files in minutes. This allows AKOSH to transfer case files to compact discs or other storage space to speed up the Freedom of Information Requests (FOIR). The FOIR clerk will only have to edit the file once in its electronic format and store it to disc. Subsequent requests can then be printed with little or no additional editing.
Use of videoconference equipment in meetings and training
Having several locations in the state of California that support videoconferencing, the program has extensively used videoconference as an effective tool for managers to attend meetings locally, rather than traveling to the meeting location. This has been a benefit to many managers and an effective use of time. Training can now be viewed at several locations throughout the state.
Testing and development of wireless communication
Fieldwork 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 a 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 can also 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
Updating of equipment and testing of new products 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 and personal air sampling pumps.
Improvement of Web sites – Technology Services and Laboratory
Improved Web sites have resulted in increased access and better information management. Posting the information at the site that can be accessed from all locations, information can easily be sent and updated to all interested parties.
Use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) as a locating tool to accurately describe the site when landmarks or street information is not available
Field personnel have increasingly used GPS information to give an accurate location of the site. GPS is also used to guide field personnel to the site using geological maps.
Text messaging on cell phones
Text messaging is used to inform field personnel of 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.
Connecticut OSHA (CONN-OSHA), working with the Connecticut Housing Authority Association, has delivered the 10-hour outreach course to multiple locations throughout Connecticut via teleconferencing media.
Industrial hygiene equipment is continually being upgraded when technological improvements are available. CONN-OSHA staff members are on their fourth generation of digital cameras.
CONN-OSHA has purchased a 15-station interpreter sound system that will allow trainers to present training programs in a foreign language. Currently, CONN-OSHA has access to a Hispanic-speaking interpreter.
Kentucky continues to update its Internet capabilities to provide improved access to standards, education and training materials, and forms. Kentucky now provides online registration for its Population Center training sites.
Maryland continues to address the timeliness of citation issuance to achieve quicker abatement and resolution of safety hazards in the workplace. During the past year, Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) initiated a pilot program to issue citations at the regional level. This pilot program quickly reduced case processing time by 15-plus days to an average of 27 days. MOSH is now in the process of phasing in this program in the other regions.
During 2005, Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) developed an innovative safety training CD, MIOSHA Walkthrough for Manufacturers. The CD contains 22 modules and was produced by eMedia Solutions at Universal Studios, Orlando, Fla., using its professional production team and Disney animators. The CD is a high-end, interactive training tool that makes safety and health training interesting and memorable. MIOSHA partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Lansing Area Safety Council and the private sector to produce the CD. In February 2006, the CD was distributed to 30,000 Michigan manufacturers at no cost.
MIOSHA continues to improve access to safety and health material on its Web site. During fiscal-year 2005:
Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) evaluates potential new equipment and technology throughout the year. In fiscal-year 2005, MNOSHA purchased new noise dosimeters for field investigators with PC interface and infrared communication capabilities. The capability of this technology represents a better and more efficient way to present monitoring results to employers. Air-monitoring testing capabilities were expanded with the purchase of an updated version of an indoor-air-quality meter and an additional photoionization detector. The use of handheld computer devices was expanded to a total of nine field investigators throughout the state.
Digital voice recorders are used routinely by both Discrimination and Compliance staff members. Not only are the recorders small and lightweight, they do not require staff members to carry extra tapes or to worry about the tape running out during a crucial point in an interview. The recorders, with upgraded memory cards, can contain up to 22 hours of interviews before having to download the information. The recorders can be used with the agency’s phone system to record phone interviews. Downloading from the recorder to the hard drive of an investigator’s computer allows for the investigator to put all of the interviews for a given case on a single CD to be put into the file. This also allows easy access for the department’s transcription team if the interview needs to be transcribed; the finished transcript can be e-mailed to the investigator. Having a recorded interview helps to keep the integrity of an investigation solid; memories fade over time.
Nevada OSHA and the Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) continue to use digital cameras as an integral part of their inspections and consultation visits. Since their introduction, compliance officers found the digital cameras invaluable for documenting violative conditions. And for consultants, the cameras proved to be helpful in providing visuals that assisted employers in recognizing and correcting hazards. The camera’s impact in reducing operating costs that, in the past, were associated with conventional cameras, such as film and photo processing, was also noteworthy.
SCATS instituted an e-mail service to notify customers when the Tip of the Month was posted on the SCATS Web site. Additionally, requests for training services can now be accessed online.
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 IMIS redesign effort through participation on the Information Systems Council. The state installed video conferencing equipment in field offices to reduce travel time and costs.
In fiscal-year 2005, Oregon upgraded its Web site (both intranet and external sites) with the use of content management software that helps to cull "moldy" Web pages. Use of the Internet and intranet is becoming an increasingly important tool for tying the central and regional offices together, as well as providing on-the-spot technical information during site visits. From 2000 to 2005, the site has experienced a 500-fold increase in hits to the Web site.
The OR-OSHA field staff has been supplied with digital cameras (which have short video-clip capability), which enhances the quality and efficiency of producing reports. Through experience, Olympus cameras were purchased, which appear to meet the robustness needs of field work.
Puerto Rico OSHA (PR OSHA) engaged in the implementation of a new communication system that will allow communication during emergency situations among the program’s area offices and headquarters, the office of the Assistant Secretary for Management Affairs, the Emergency and Disaster Management State Agency (AEMEAD, by its Spanish acronym), the Puerto Rico Police, the Fire Department and the Medical Emergencies Corps.
In addition, in a cooperative effort to cover more employees, PR OSHA will join MSHA to provide miners with information, education and training that will help them to prevent injuries and illnesses, and protect their safety and health in the mining industry.
Tennessee OSHA has equipped all compliance officers with five megapixel 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.
All closed files are currently scanned to eliminate the need for file storage space and to allow compliance officers and consultants desktop access via Internet access.
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.
Utah now uses cellular telephones with two-way communications capability to improve communications with inspectors in the field.
Vermont OSHA (VOSHA) has purchased digital cameras and digital voice recorders for all staff members. The photos are put on a shared drive and are available to all VOSHA staff members. The digital voice recorders have proven reliable and helpful when conducting accident investigations and discrimination investigations.
Virginia uses both the PC CSHO and Consultation applications for input of safety/health inspections and consultation visits. These applications input inspection data from the field into the two central IMIS systems. Virginia currently uses the IMIS systems strictly for report generation and processing corrections. All data entry is performed in the stand-alone Oracle-based applications.
The Information Technology (IT) division is currently implementing cost-saving measures by moving from the more expensive leased telecommunication lines to less expensive DSL circuits. An analysis was performed earlier and it was determined that DSL technology is available in all parts of the state where agency offices are located.
Last year, all agency CSHOs and consultants were upgraded to reliable digital camera technology. Cameras with high focal strength and 4.0 or greater megapixel image capacity were introduced to the staff. To date, this has resulted in savings compared to film-based, conventional cameras and affords the inspector/consultant the ability to store digital images directly in the case file on the PC.
Virginia’s IT division has also started a dialogue with federal OMDS to provide technical expertise for enhancements and/or fixes to the PC CSHO/Consultation application.
In 2002, Washington began implementation of a Web-based system for collecting inspection and consultation visit data and feeding it to the federal Integrated Management Information System (IMIS). 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 now enter visit and inspection data directly into the WIN system. This has significantly reduced the lag-time for issuing citations. Before WIN, paper forms were either hand-completed or typewritten and submitted to the central office for data entry into IMIS.
Another benefit of WIN is that many data fields are pre-filled. Employer information from Washington’s industrial insurance system is linked to the WIN system, improving consistency and data integrity. Another significant advantage of WIN is 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, and its resulting efficiencies and improved timeliness, has been a resounding success.
Phase two of the WIN system was started in August 2005. It adds Washington’s appeals and collections data to the system and will remove the dependency on IMIS to get citations issued. By October 2006, Washington expects to be able to issue citations directly from the WIN system. Data will still be transmitted to keep the federal IMIS system up to date, but it will not be a necessary step in the citation issuance process.
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