NIOSH Invites Companies to Help Develop Ambulance Safety Standards

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is seeking input from the private sector in developing proposed ambulance component safety test standards, according to a March 14 Federal Register notice (76 Fed. Reg. 13,620)

An initial meeting is scheduled for March 23 and 24.

NIOSH will be conducting approximately 15 months of tests for the proposed standard, Seat Mount and Occupant Restraints Dynamic Test, the agency said in a announcing the meetings.

The invitation comes as the institute increases its focus upon transportation-related hazards, including the recent opening of a virtual motor vehicle safety research center. Deaths involving highway transportation have long ranked as the most common type of work-related fatality, accounting for 882 deaths in 2009, more than one-fifth of all occupational fatalities that year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (41 OSHR 144, 2/17/11).

Participants will be asked to provide seats, seat retention devices, and restraints, the notice said. The testing data will be used to support the industry in its transition to the proposed standards: the Society of Automobile Engineers J2917 Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice, Occupant Restraint and Equipment Mounting Integrity-Frontal Impact System-Level Ambulance Patient Compartment; and the SAE J2956 Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice, Occupant Restraint and Equipment Mounting Integrity-Side Impact System-Level Ambulance Patient Compartment, it added.

SAE standard J2917 was published in May 2010; SAE standard J2956 is currently in draft form.

Interested companies can contact Jim Green, the NIOSH project officer, at

Distracted Driving Guidance.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published guidance this month encouraging companies to develop policies that prevent distracted driving at the workplace.

The guidance, published as part of a wider agency initiative, comes as OSHA has pledged to use the general duty clause against employers who require text messaging while driving (40 OSHR 786, 9/23/10).

Employers should declare their vehicles “text-free zones” and eliminate incentives for workers to do so, the guidance said.

OSHA's distracted driving website also features a model policy, while the agency's consultation program is available to assist small and medium-sized businesses in developing their own.

By Greg Hellman

NIOSH's notice of the informational meetings is available at

OSHA's distracted driving guidance is available at

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