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The Department of the Interior’s Occupational Health and Safety Program supports the Department’s Mission to protect and provide access to our Nation's natural and cultural heritage by:
- Keeping employees and volunteers well,
- Keeping employees and volunteers on the job, and
- Reducing accident related losses.
OSHA continues extensive public engagement on silica proposal: Public hearings on proposed silica rule begin today
OSHA has begun holding public hearings for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica. This marks the beginning of an intensive three weeks of public feedback on the proposal, with hearings scheduled through Friday, April 4, 2014.
"We look forward to receiving feedback from our stakeholders on our proposal, and we’re grateful for the continuing high level of public engagement throughout the rulemaking," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "This is an open process and the input we receive will help us ensure that a final rule adequately protects workers, is feasible for employers, and is based on the best available evidence."
Members of the public may attend to listen to testimony from OSHA and other hearing participants. To view the hearing schedule and procedures, visit www.osha.gov/silica. To view the proposed rule, visit the Federal Register. Additional information, including the public hearings schedule and hearing procedures, as well as FAQs, fact sheets, is available at www.osha.gov/silica.
OSHA publishes new educational bulletin on recordkeeping requirements for temporary workers
OSHA has released a new educational bulletin for staffing agencies and host employers on current requirements for recording injuries and illnesses of temporary workers. The new Recordkeeping Bulletin (PDF*), which is part of OSHA’s Temporary Worker Initiative, addresses how to identify which employer is responsible for recording these work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log.
"The Recordkeeping Bulletin is the first of many materials we are releasing and helps clarify which employers are responsible for reporting injuries and illnesses," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "These materials will provide valuable information for both host employers and staffing agencies on how they can work together to make sure their workers are properly trained and protected."
The temporary worker Recordkeeping Bulletin helps businesses determine which employer is responsible for recording work-related injuries and illness on the OSHA 300 log. For more information, read the news release and visit OSHA's temporary worker page.
Comment period extended to March 31 for information request on updates to chemical facility safety standards
OSHA is extending the public comment period on the request for information on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard and related standards for an additional 21 days to March 31, 2014. In response to requests for an extension, the deadline to submit written comments is being extended from March 10 to March 31 to allow stakeholders additional time to comment on the proposed rule and supporting analyses.
The RFI is in response to Executive Order 13650 (PDF*), which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas, tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion. OSHA is requesting comments on its Process Safety Management standard and potential changes to PSM enforcement policies, as well as input on potential updates to the agency’s Explosives and Blasting Agents, Flammable Liquids and Spray Finishing standards. For more information, read the press release.
Supreme Court rules whistleblower protections of Sarbanes-Oxley Act apply broadly to employees and contractors of publicly traded companies
On March 4, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of two former employees of privately held companies that provide advisory and management services to the Fidelity family of mutual funds, who claimed they faced retaliation after they reported allegations of fraud. The ruling asserts that the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act apply broadly to a public company's private contractors and subcontractors just as it protects employees of the public company served by the contractors and subcontractors.
"Whistleblower protections play a vital role in protecting the health, safety and financial wellbeing of all Americans," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. "We are pleased that the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of employees of a public company’s contractors to expose fraud and securities rule violations without fear of retaliation. The Labor Department is committed to protecting these critical whistleblower rights for workers."
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor vehicle, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.
Former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph Dear dies of cancer at 62
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels released the following statement on the passing of Joseph Dear:
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Assistant Secretary Joe Dear. While he served in many roles throughout his life, Joe was always a tireless advocate for worker safety and health. During his time as the ninth Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Joe made a series of lasting impacts that we are still benefitting from to this very day. He was a bold and forward-thinking leader who embraced innovation, bringing technological advancements to the agency that have revolutionized the way we do our work. He strove to hold employers accountable by increasing penalties for willful violations and finalized some of our most important worker protection standards for electrical power generation, construction and shipyard safety, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment. While the world of occupational safety and health has lost a great defender, his legacy will live on for the many years to come. Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones."
Dear’s family has established a memorial scholarship in his name at The Evergreen State College, his alma mater.
Nominations requested for members to serve on Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee
OSHA is accepting nominations from individuals interested in serving on the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. The agency seeks to fill 12 committee positions that will become vacant Jan. 1, 2015. OSHA is initiating staggered terms whereby six members will be appointed to one-year terms and six will be appointed to two-year terms. OSHA expects to fill one public, one State Occupational Safety and Health Plan, two management and two labor representatives to one-year terms. The agency also expects to fill two management, two labor and two public representatives to two-year terms. The committee will have three non-voting members selected by the secretary of labor who are government employees from other federal agencies that have jurisdiction over statutes with whistleblower provisions. Current committee members can be re-nominated. For more information, read the press release.
OSHA co-hosts safety events in San Francisco and Chicago
On Feb. 25-27, OSHA sponsored a free Pacific Coast Safety Fest in San Francisco, Calif., drawing more than 300 participants who met with representatives from professional organizations and exhibitors to learn about improvements in safety equipment and best practices to keep workers safe and healthy on the job. In partnership with Chabot-Las Positas Community College District and the General Services Administration, OSHA’s Training Institute offered more than a dozen certificate programs and classes at the event.
On March 4-5, OSHA staff from Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin area offices participated in the 24th Annual Construction Expo and Safety Day in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. The conference, held by the Chicago Construction Safety Council and the Chicago chapter of the American Subcontractors Association, offered more than 25 sessions on a variety of construction industry safety and health topics. OSHA staff gave presentations covering subjects that included hazards related to excavation, heat exposure, cranes, falls in residential construction and isocyanates. The presentations provided valuable information on hazard identification and abatement for construction industry employers, workers and supervisors.
Consulates of the Philippines, El Salvador team with OSHA to promote worker safety and health in Texas, New York and New Jersey
OSHA signed an alliance March 10 in Dallas, Texas with the Consul General of the Philippines to establish a collaborative relationship to develop training and education programs in general industry and construction for Philippine nationals employed throughout Texas. The alliance will also aim to increase access to education and training resources that promote workers' rights and employers' knowledge of their responsibilities.
On March 4, OSHA staff met with nearly two dozen staff members from El Salvador consulates in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. Part of a continuing effort to reach out to hard-to-reach workers with limited English-language proficiency, the discussion centered on worker rights, employer responsibilities, whistleblower protection, temporary workers, hazard identification and prevention.
Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
OSHA partners with NOAA for Flood Safety Awareness Week
OSHA and the National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration are working together to promote Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 16-22.
OSHA and NOAA encourage employers to stay aware of weather forecasts, train workers on workplace severe weather plans, and keep emergency supplies, including a battery-operated weather radio, on hand to be better prepared for severe weather, including floods and flash floods. Employers must also ensure that workers involved in response and recovery are protected from potential safety and health hazards.
Follow all of the week’s activities on NOAA’s Web page and visit OSHA’s Flood Preparedness and Response page for more information on protecting workers from floods, including during flood response and recovery. OSHA also provides resources on workplace preparedness and response for severe weather emergencies including wildfires, tornadoes and winter weather, among others.
New educational resources: Hazard Communication: Small Entity Compliance Guide, fact sheet on work-related asthma
Two new OSHA resources, “Hazard Communication: Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals” (PDF*) and a new fact sheet, “Steps to an Effective Hazardous Communication Program for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals” (PDF*), offer employers clear steps to create an effective hazard communication program — including a sample program and a quick guide to hazard communication training.
Also available is a new OSHA Fact Sheet, “Do You Have Work-Related Asthma? A Guide for You and Your Doctor” (PDF*) which offers key questions to ask, quick facts, helpful resources for workers, and a guide for clinicians to diagnose work-related asthma.