SafetyNet News and Highlights

September 2012 updates

OSHA cites company after June heat fatality in New Jersey

OSHA has cited Waste Management of Trenton and Labor Ready Northeast Inc. of Ewing for one serious violation each of OSHA's general duty clause following a heat-related fatality in June. OSHA initiated an inspection after a Labor Ready Northeast temporary employee working for Waste Management as a garbage collection worker died while picking up trash on a collection route in Hopewell Borough.
OSHA found that neither Labor Ready nor Waste Management trained their employees to recognize and respond to heat related illness, nor did they provide sufficient training or implement procedures to minimize or mitigate the risk of developing heat related illness. Read the press release for more details.


Monro Muffler Brake reaches agreement with OSHA to protect workers against hydraulic lift hazards at multiple company locations


Monro Muffler Brake Inc., which operates a chain of more than 800 stores that provide automotive repair and tire services throughout the eastern United States, has reached an enterprise-wide settlement agreement with OSHA in which it will institute procedures to protect its workers against being crushed or struck by automotive hydraulic lifts.
In September 2011, OSHA cited the company's Stoughton location for improperly inspecting and maintaining hydraulic lifts, as well as other hazards, following an April 2011 incident in which a lift failure caused a car to fall to the ground. Monro initially contested these citations but has now agreed to address the issue – and not just at the Stoughton location, but companywide. Under the agreement, Monro will develop and implement an inspection and maintenance program for all automotive lifts at all of its federal OSHA-covered work sites. The program will comply with industry standards and include periodic inspections by qualified inspectors, procedures to remedy any potentially unsafe conditions, mandatory training for lift operators and the submission of written compliance reports to OSHA. Monro also will pay a fine of $12,500 for the violations identified at the Stoughton location. For more information, read the press release.


North Carolina OSHA cites Smithfield Packing Co. for exposing workers to hydrogen sulfide gas following death of employee


The North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) has cited Smithfield Packing Co. in Clinton for 17 safety and health violations, including failing to provide workers with personal protective equipment and training to protect themselves from exposure to hazardous chemicals. North Carolina DOL initiated safety and health inspections February 18, 2012, after a worker died from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas as he filled a tanker with liquid sludge. Proposed penalties from both inspections total $251,250.
Willful violations include not providing respirators when equipment was necessary to protect workers and employee training to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical. Serious violations cited include failing to provide personal protection equipment, exposing workers to struck-by hazards and falls from height. For more information, visit the North Carolina State Plan page.


Temporary enforcement measures extended in residential construction


OSHA will extend for three months its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction. The temporary enforcement measures, now extended through December 15, 2012, include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency, and increased outreach. Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction.
OSHA has been working closely with the industry to assist employers in complying with the new directive. Since October 1, 2011, OSHA's On-site Consultation Projects performed more than 2,500 on-site visits, conducted 925 training sessions, and delivered 438 presentations related to fall protection in residential construction. OSHA’s regional and area offices also conducted more than 800 outreach activities on the directive. The agency will continue to work with employers to ensure a clear understanding of, and to facilitate compliance with, the new policy.
OSHA will continue to develop materials to assist the industry, including a wide variety of educational and training materials to assist employers with compliance, which are available on the Web pages for residential construction and the Fall Prevention Campaign.


OSHA publishes removal criteria for employers from the Severe Violator Enforcement Program


OSHA has published criteria for removing employers from the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). SVEP has been in effect since June 18, 2010, and focuses agency resources on employers who demonstrate indifference to their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act with willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
An employer may be considered for removal from the program by an OSHA Regional Administrator after a period of three years from the date of the final disposition of the SVEP inspection citation items to include: failure to contest, settlement agreement, Review Commission final order, or court of appeals decision. Employers must also affirm all violations have been abated, all final penalties have been paid, all settlement provisions have been completed and abided by, and no additional serious citations have been incurred related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments. Read the news release and the memorandum for further details regarding these removal criteria.


REMINDER: Take the Worker Safety & Health App Challenge before the September 16 deadline!


Time is running out to submit entries for the Worker Safety & Health App Challenge at www.challenge.gov. The challenge is to use publicly available government information (i.e., DOL/OSHA data, NIOSH data, and other online government resources) to educate young workers on the safety and health risks and their rights in real work scenarios. The deadline to enter your app is September 16.
A panel of judges that includes Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, co-hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show "Myth Busters," will award $15,000 for the "Safety in the Workplace Innovator Award," $6,000 for the "Safety and Health Data Award" and $6,000 for the "Workers' Rights Award." There is also a "People's Choice Award" of $3,000 for the developer of the app that receives the most public votes on the website. For more information about the prizes and the competition guidelines, watch a short video, visit the challenge page, and read Dr. Michaels' most recent blog.


Fall Prevention Campaign spreads the word: OSHA staff across the country teach how to save lives


Since launching the Preventing Falls in Construction campaign in April, OSHA's Regional and Area Offices have been getting the message of "Safety Pays, Falls Cost" out to tens of thousands of employers, workers and other stakeholders.


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Across the country, OSHA's Free On-site Consultation Program and compliance assistance specialists have conducted more than one thousand workshops, presentations, site visits, and radio and TV interviews. OSHA's specialists have participated in phone banks, staffed information booths at community events, visited with foreign consulates, distributed educational materials, and conducted many other outreach activities to explain that falls can be prevented when employers follow a three-step process — Plan, Provide and Train.

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, but these deaths are preventable. Learn more about OSHA's Fall Prevention campaign, and watch Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis' public service announcement at www.osha.gov/stopfalls. OSHA also has numerous educational resources available in multiple languages, including (PDF*) stickers, wallet cards, fact sheets, and posters. To order these or any of OSHA's outreach materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.

 


Heat Safety Tool mobile app approaches 52,000 downloads as hotter-than-average temperatures hang on in much of the U.S.


The National Weather Service is forecasting hotter-than-average temperatures to continue in much of the country over the next week, possibly putting outdoor workers at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. A useful tool for getting vital safety information about working outdoors in extreme temperatures is OSHA's free Heat Safety Tool mobile app, already downloaded by nearly 52,000 mobile phone users. The app is available in both English and Spanish and is compatible with iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones.
Meanwhile, throughout the country, OSHA staff are on hand to provide expert guidance to workers and employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. In Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, Texas, OSHA compliance officers operated three phone banks in Spanish on local Univision stations, taking questions from the public and providing information on the campaign. Learn more about staying safe while working in the heat with OSHA's heat illness prevention materials. Order copies in English or Spanish by calling OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or by visiting OSHA's Publications page.


Direct Final Rule to apply worker safety and health requirements for cranes and derricks to demolition and underground construction


OSHA has issued a direct final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking that applies the requirements of the August 2010 cranes and derricks in construction standard to demolition work and underground construction. The application of this rule will protect workers from hazards associated with hoisting equipment used during construction activities.
The direct final rule will apply the same crane rules to underground construction and demolition that are already being used by other construction sectors, and will streamline OSHA's standards by eliminating the separate cranes and derricks standard currently used for underground and demolition work. The rulemaking also corrects several errors introduced in the 2010 rulemaking to make it easier for workers and employers to understand and implement these standards.
The direct final rule will become effective November 15, 2012, unless OSHA receives a significant adverse comment by September 17. Individuals may submit comments electronically, by fax or by mail. See the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register and read the news release for further details.


Updated "Tool Shed" directive gives procedures for eliminating workplace hazards in the marine cargo handling industry


On August 10, OSHA issued a revised directive (PDF*) providing enforcement guidance for inspections of longshoring operations and at marine terminals, also known as the marine cargo handling industry.
The new "Tool Shed" directive clarifies what kinds of personal protect equipment (PPE) employers must provide at no cost to their workers, as well as the circumstances when employers must pay for replacing PPE. The directive also provides information and guidance on regulations for Vertical Tandem Lifts (VTLs). For more information, read the news release and visit OSHA's Maritime Industry Safety and Health Topics page.


Labor Secretary applauds programs to educate migrant workers during Labor Rights Week


For this year's Labor Rights Week, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis selected the theme "Promoting Labor Rights is Everyone's Responsibility." Held August 27-31, this year's events included regional activities designed to educate migrant workers and employers about U.S. labor laws.
"When employers follow our labor laws, workers are more productive and businesses can grow. When the rights of workers are respected, it helps our economy," said Secretary Solis in her video message.
During Labor Rights Week, the Labor Department and consulates representing ten countries worked together to educate migrant workers and their employers about laws administered by OSHA and the department’s Wage and Hour Division. A series of training events, workshops and information-sharing programs were held to distribute information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws and resources available to workers and employers.


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OSHA Regional Administrator Robert Kulick delivers remarks at a Region II Labor Rights Week event.

In one such event, OSHA's Region II office signed agreements to protect the rights of migrant workers with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and Honduras, and welcomed representatives from Argentina, Brazil and Nicaragua. To learn more about programs that protect migrant workers, visit the Labor Department's website.


Deputy Assistant Secretary Barab addresses Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association


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Workplace safety and health was front and center on August 20 at the 28th Annual National Conference of the Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association (VPPPA) meeting in Anaheim, Calif. The VPPPA welcomed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jordan Barab as their keynote speaker. In his speech, Barab praised OSHA's VPP worksites for their dedication to workplace safety, and the pride many companies take in their health and safety achievements.

OSHA Voluntary Protection Program

"It is chiefly because of the example you set for all American workplaces that the VPP can continue to rely on the full support of OSHA and the Department of Labor," Barab said. He praised outgoing Executive Director Davis Layne and presented the VPPPA's 8th Annual Special Government Employee of the year award to Jon Alexander, the contractor/guest safety lead for Monsanto World Headquarters in St. Louis.
Barab also addressed the recent assessment of the program by OSHA's VPP Review Team, which recommends a number of changes to maintain the integrity of the program. Created in April, 2011, by Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax, the VPP Review Team is comprised of representatives from OSHA's Regional and National Offices. The VPP Review Team was directed to conduct a review of the VPP operations and to make recommendations to the Assistant Secretary to enhance the program. Their report recommends improvements to the consistency and efficiency of VPP review operations, while maintaining the integrity of the VPP. For more information about VPP, visit OSHA's VPP page, see the VPP review team’s report, and read Assistant Secretary Barab’s speech for the 2012 VPPPA Conference.

 


Maritime Industry Outreach Trainers: OSHA announces new workplace safety training requirement


Individuals seeking authorization to become OSHA Maritime Industry Outreach Trainers must complete a new workplace safety and health course. Effective October 1, 2012, prospective maritime industry trainers must complete OSHA Course #5410 Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Maritime Industry.


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The OSHA Maritime courses focus on eliminating needless injuries and deaths by sharing methods of finding and fixing deadly industry hazards like falls, confined spaces, electrical hazards, machine guarding and welding/hot work. The new required course, developed by the OSHA Directorate of Training and Education and offered through authorized OSHA Training Institute Education Centers, focuses on maritime industry standards related to longshoring, marine terminals, and shipyard employment. Prospective trainers can access the course, training locations, registration and other information on OSHA's searchable course schedule Web page or visit the Outreach Training Program for the Maritime Industry Web page.

 


National Safety Council renews Alliance with OSHA to address fall prevention, injury and illness prevention programs


OSHA has renewed its Alliance with the National Safety Council (NSC) to continue enhancing worker safety and health by addressing construction hazards, injury and illness prevention programs and motor vehicle safety.
During the two-year agreement, the Alliance will develop fact sheets on injury and illness prevention programs, hazard identification, worker training, fall prevention and best practices for reporting near misses. The Alliance will also develop a case study on preventing falls from heights in construction, focusing on the causes of fall protection failures and how employers can assure an effective and reliable fall prevention program. More information about this and other OSHA Alliances is available in the news release and on OSHA’s Alliance Program page.


Thousands of workers and employers attend free OSHA webinar on the revised Hazard Communication Standard


On August 13, OSHA and the Society of Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC) welcomed more than 5,600 participants to a free webinar on implementing OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard in the United States.
The webinar, developed as part of OSHA's alliance with SCHC, explained changes to the Hazard Communication Standard to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). During the webinar, OSHA staff provided information and answered questions from chemical manufacturers, downstream users, and other interested parties. Topics included changes expected in training, labeling, and safety data sheets and compliance assistance opportunities. To learn more about the revised Hazard Communication and the Globally Harmonized System, see OSHA’s Hazard Communication page and read the QuickTakes special issue on GHS.


Healthcare and Social Assistance workers suffer workplace violence injuries: Maine Department of Labor issues new report


A new Maine Department of Labor report indicates that more than 13 percent of healthcare workplace injuries result from patient aggression. The aggressive acts resulting in worker injuries included hitting, biting and kicking. Workers frequently sustained injuries while trying to restrain their patients and clients.
The research on violent or aggressive actions by mental health patients, nursing home and residential care clients, general hospital patients, adults and children with disabilities and individuals being treated for substance abuse target workers in the Healthcare and Social Assistance industry. The Research and Statistics Unit of Maine’s Department of Labor compiled this data from the First Reports of Injury of the Workers' Compensation Board 2011 database. Their study (PDF*) found that in 2011, more than 1,300 workers in healthcare or rehabilitation settings were hurt on the job by a patient or client.
OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on Workplace Violence explains risk factors, provides training materials, and offers additional information about preventing violence in the workplace. OSHA's Healthcare page can provide further resources about workplace hazards and preventative measures for the healthcare industry.


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Staying safe in adverse weather: Important flood and hurricane safety resources


As Tropical Storm Isaac continues its path from the Gulf Coast into the Southeast and Midwest, OSHA has educational materials for those in affected parts of the country. Visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics pages to learn about Flood and Hurricane Preparedness and Response.


West Nile Virus: Protecting outdoor workers from infection


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported an increase in West Nile virus infections in the United States, including more than 1,500 cases in people and at least 65 deaths. West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Workers at risk include farmers, foresters, landscapers, gardeners, painters, construction workers, mechanics, and other outdoor workers. Preventing mosquito bites reduces risk to outdoor workers. Learn about preventing infection with OSHA's West Nile Virus Fact Sheet (PDF*) and QuickCard (PDF*) and visit the CDC's Fight the Bite! website for additional resources and frequent updates.



September 2012

OSHA delivers message of "Water. Rest. Shade." in media old and new

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OSHA staff in the field are also bringing the message to their communities by appearing on radio and television and attending local events to protect outdoor workers. Isabel DeOliveira, Regional Compliance Assistant Specialist for the Philadelphia Region, spoke on the television program "Puerto Rican Panorama" and to Clear Channel Radio about the campaign.

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Isabel DeOliveira, of OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office.

On the other side of the country, Cal/OSHA, California's State Plan, is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the risk of heat illness, especially with heat waves expected this week in the Central and Inland Valleys. To learn more about their efforts, read the CalOSHA news release.

Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion. For 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,190 workers suffered from heat illness and 40 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Although outdoor workers in a variety of industries are susceptible to heat illness, those in construction and agriculture are the most vulnerable.

For information and resources on heat illness, including PSAs in English and Spanish, visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials, including worksite posters, community posters, and fact sheets in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.


New educational resources available to prevent falls in construction

Across the U.S. in 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and another 255 workers were killed. These falls are preventable with three simple steps: Plan. Provide. Train. OSHA is working with its partners at the National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented and lives can be saved.

New to the fall prevention campaign site is a training resources page, with links to training materials produced by OSHA, state and local government agencies, trade associations, and worker representatives. Falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment, so they need training on the specific equipment they will use to complete the job. Employers must train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they'll be using on the job.

OSHA's fall protection fact sheet has now been translated into Polish (PDF*) and Russian (PDF*). The translated materials can be downloaded in PDF format from OSHA’s fall prevention education materials page. To order any of OSHA's printed outreach materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.



NEW: Fall protection fact sheet in Russian

OSHA cites Idaho group home and adult day care operator for inadequate workplace violence safeguards at Pocatello facility

OSHA has cited South Park Inc., operating as Developmental Options in Pocatello, with one serious violation for failing to provide employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence. OSHA opened an inspection of the group home and adult day care center in January following reports of increasing severity of attacks against workers. The citation carries a proposed penalty of $4,900.

OSHA cited the employer for exposing employees to repeated instances of violent behavior, aggressive physical contact and attacks by a patient in the residential habilitation program. OSHA also determined that the company failed to identify and abate existing and developing hazards associated with workplace violence. See the press release for more details.

Additional information on workplace violence is available on OSHA's Workplace Violence page.


Hasbro's Massachusetts-based manufacturing facility recognized as a leader in employee health and safety for second consecutive year

Hasbro, Inc.'s manufacturing facility based in East Longmeadow, Mass., has been named winner of OSHA's Region I VPP Safety Award for the second consecutive year.

Hasbro's site was once again recognized for the company's “contributions, commitment, and leadership that have helped make OSHA Region I's Voluntary Protection Programs possible . . . creating a safer, healthier work environment, together with its leadership in sharing with other companies its vast knowledge of best practices and impactful new techniques," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's Regional Administrator in Region I. "Hasbro is a very deserving recipient of the Region 1 VPP Safety Award." Hasbro's East Longmeadow site has been classified as an OSHA VPP Star site since 2002.

The Voluntary Protection Program recognizes employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control; worksite analysis; training; and management commitment and worker involvement.


Protecting salon workers from on-the-job hazards: OSHA highlights salon safety at Asian American and Pacific Islander working group

The Interagency Working Group on Salon Worker Health and Safety convened this week to highlight its first-year progress. OSHA Chief of Staff Debbie Berkowitz was joined by representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration for a discussion of the hazards caused to hair and nail salon workers. OSHA reported on their efforts to protect hair salon workers from formaldehyde exposure in the production and application of hair smoothing treatments. In the past year, OSHA and state partners have conducted over 60 salon and manufacturers/distributors inspections based on complaints, published hazard alerts, and conducted Web-based education and outreach.

In 2012, OSHA unveiled a Web page devoted to safety in nail salons and published a guide to chemical, ergonomic and biological hazards, "Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers," (PDF*) available online in English and Vietnamese (PDF*). To order free copies, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page online.


OSHA and NIOSH join together to inform employers and workers on safe work practices when using cleaning chemicals

Workers who clean buildings, schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and factories use a variety of cleaning chemicals that can pose health risks. Health effects from chemicals in cleaning products can range from skin rashes and burns to eye, nose and throat irritation, to cough and asthma. Many employers are switching to green cleaning products because they are thought to be less hazardous to workers and the environment. The new OSHA-NIOSH Infosheet, "Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning Chemicals," (PDF*) provides employers with guidance on choosing safer cleaning products, safe work practices, worker training and better cleaning methods. The accompanying poster, "Protect Yourself: Cleaning Chemicals and Your Health," (PDF*) informs workers of the hazards of cleaning chemicals, symptoms and employer responsibilities. In addition to English, the poster is available (in PDF* format) in Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog.


New searchable online course schedule makes it easy to find OSHA Training Institute Education Centers training opportunities

OSHA has added a new, user-friendly online searchable course schedule for OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center courses. The new course schedule allows prospective students to search for OTI training courses by organization, course title, state or date range. The schedule also allows users to search courses that offer professional development opportunities including Continuing Education Units and Certification Maintenance points. A registration link for the courses is provided along with query results. Registration is conducted directly through the respective OTI Education Center.

The OTI Education Centers are a national network of nonprofit organizations authorized by OSHA to deliver occupational safety and health training to private sector workers, employers, supervisors, and managers. Training is offered through an open enrollment format and on a contract basis for organizations within OSHA's jurisdiction. The OTI Education Centers offer courses and seminars on a variety of safety and health topics.


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Protecting workers from mercury exposure in fluorescent bulbs: New educational resources available

OSHA has issued two new educational resources to help protect workers from mercury exposure. Fluorescent bulbs can release mercury and may expose workers when they are broken accidentally or crushed as part of the routine disposal or recycling process.

A new OSHA QuickCard (PDF*) alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidently broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers’ exposures to mercury. In addition, a new fact sheet (PDF*) explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment they need, and how to use these controls and equipment properly. To order these or any other of OSHA's educational materials, visit OSHA's Publications page.

 


National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH); Request for Nominations

OSHA has announced that nominations are being accepted for four members to serve on the 12-member National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). NACOSH was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to advise the Secretaries of Labor and Health and Human Services on matters relating to the administration of the Act.

Nominations will be accepted for one representative from each of the following categories: public; management; occupational safety; and occupational health. Members will serve a two-year term.

Nominations may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice and the press release for details. Nominations must be submitted by Sept. 10, 2012.

 


August 2012

U.S. Department of Labor finds 2 companies in violation of Federal Railroad Safety Act for retaliating against whistleblowers

OSHA has ordered two railroad companies to pay three workers a total of $650,729.14 in back wages and damages for retaliating against them for reporting workplace injuries and safety concerns. The orders resulted from investigations conducted by the OSHA's Chicago office, which were initiated upon receiving complaints from the employees.

"It is critically important that railroad employees in the Midwest and across the nation know that OSHA intends to defend the rights of workers who report injuries and safety concerns," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "We will use the full force of the law to make sure that workers who are retaliated against for reporting health and safety concerns are made whole."

OSHA conducted the investigations under the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act, as amended by the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. Railroad carriers are subject to the FRSA, which protects employees who report violations of any federal law, rule or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, or who engage in other protected activities.

OSHA determined that Illinois Central Railroad violated the FRSA by retaliating against two employees in separate incidents for reporting workplace injuries.

The first employee, a conductor, was injured in August 2008 when he was knocked unconscious and sustained injuries to his shoulder, back and head while switching railcars in the Markham Yard. The second employee, a carman, reported an arm/shoulder injury that occurred in February 2008. While walking along a platform to inspect railcars in the poorly lit yard, the carman slipped on ice and tried to catch himself, which jolted his left arm and shoulder.

In the third incident, OSHA determined that Chicago Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad violated the FRSA by terminating a conductor in retaliation for raising concerns about workplace safety while serving in his role as local chairman of the union and for reporting that a trainmaster had instructed him to operate a train in violation of certain Federal Railroad Administration rules in June 2009. Read the press release for more details.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws. To learn more, visit OSHA's Whistleblower page.


Federal OSHA and the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations propose agreement to provide strengthened protections for Hawaii's workers

Following three years of significant budgetary constraints and staffing challenges, Hawaii's State Plan has requested federal OSHA assistance to ensure that workers are afforded adequate worker protection. Hawaii is one of 27 states and territories currently operating an occupational safety and health State Plan approved by federal OSHA.

A proposed agreement will allow federal OSHA to temporarily assume responsibility for enforcement in specific industries until the state is able to be "at least as effective" as federal OSHA. The State Plan will progressively resume authority over industries as it rebuilds capacity. This partnership will allow federal OSHA to commit the resources and staff necessary for Hawaii to meet its lawful responsibility to ensure safe and healthful working conditions. This agreement does not terminate Federal approval of the Hawaii State Plan and does not affect the legal authority of Hawaii to carry on enforcement activities under the State Plan. Federal OSHA has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register to provide the public 35 days – through August 23 – to review and comment on the proposed change in status of Hawaii's program. Once all comments are received from the NPRM and considered, federal OSHA expects to quickly publish a Final Rule and sign a revised Operational Status Agreement with Hawaii that allows federal OSHA and the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health program to work cooperatively in the best interest of Hawaii's workers.

State Plan states must set job safety and health standards that are "at least as effective as" federal standards and may promulgate stricter standards or ones covering hazards not addressed by federal standards. A state must conduct inspections to enforce its standards, cover both the private and public sectors, and operate occupational safety and health training and education programs. In addition, all states including Hawaii, and most territories provide free on-site consultation to help employers identify and correct workplace hazards.


OSHA publishes Final Rule on whistleblower retaliation complaints made under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act

OSHA has published a Final Rule on the "Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act."

Effective July 27 the Final Rule, among other provisions, clarifies that persons may not retaliate against workers covered by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) for making oral or written complaints about violations of commercial motor vehicle safety or security regulations to government agencies, employers and others. The rule also ensures complainants have an opportunity to respond to the respondent's submissions during OSHA's investigation and receive copies of correspondence and evidence OSHA sends to respondents before ordering preliminary reinstatement. The rule incorporates suggestions made in comments received on the Interim Final Rule published in August 2010 and is consistent with the procedures established in the recently published final Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act whistleblower rule, to the extent permitted by statute.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food, safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. To learn more, visit OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program page.


C.J.'s Seafood of Breaux Bridge, La., instructed to pay fines and back wages after U.S. Department of Labor investigations

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued findings from investigations of C.J.'s Seafood Inc. in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. OSHA has cited C.J.'s Seafood with 11 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for exposing workers to blocked exit, fire, electrical and chemical hazards. Additionally, the department's Wage and Hour Division found that the company failed to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation to 73 workers as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to comply with provisions of the H-2B temporary foreign worker visa program established under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

OSHA's safety citations carry proposed penalties of $34,300. The Wage and Hour Division found that $76,608 is due to the 73 workers, and the company is liable for an additional $70,014 in liquidated damages. The division also has assessed $32,120 in civil money penalties under the FLSA for willful violations of the employer's obligation to pay overtime and $35,000 in civil money penalties for willful violations of the H-2B program. For further details, read the news release.


OSHA cites Nebraska Prime Group in Hastings, Neb., for 11 violations after worker fatality at meat packing facility

OSHA has cited Hastings Acquisition LLC, which operates as Nebraska Prime Group, a meatpacking facility in Hastings, for 11 safety violations. OSHA opened an inspection after a worker had become caught in a machine and was asphyxiated on Jan. 18. The citations carry $195,000 in proposed fines.

The worker was asphyxiated when his clothing got caught in the drive roller of a hide belt. Two related willful violations involve improper machine guarding – which exposes employees to amputation and strangulation hazards – and not supplying sufficient number of lockout devices for all servicing and maintenance employees to secure the energy sources of mechanical equipment. Nine serious violations involve a failure to: train workers on protecting themselves from hazards associated with loose clothing around moving equipment; conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures; properly train workers in energy control procedures; prevent unauthorized alterations to forklifts; maintain legible data-plates for forklifts; train and evaluate the competency of powered industrial truck operators; keep powered trucks that are in need of repair out of operation; regularly inspect forklifts; and correctly use electrical cords and cables.

For more information, read the press release or view the citations (PDF*).


OSHA cites Idaho group home and adult day care operator for inadequate workplace violence safeguards at Pocatello facility

OSHA has cited South Park Inc., operating as Developmental Options in Pocatello, with one serious violation for failing to provide employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence. OSHA opened an inspection of the group home and adult day care center in January following reports of increasing severity of attacks against workers. The citation carries a proposed penalty of $4,900.

OSHA cited the employer for exposing employees to repeated instances of violent behavior, aggressive physical contact and attacks by a patient in the residential habilitation program. OSHA also determined that the company failed to identify and abate existing and developing hazards associated with workplace violence. See the press release for more details.

Additional information on workplace violence is available on OSHA's Workplace Violence page.


OSHA reaches out to vulnerable workers in Little Rock and Tulsa with information on heat stress and other workplace hazards

At recent outreach events in Arkansas and Oklahoma, OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialists (CAS) provided workers with information in Spanish on heat stress and falls hazards. Each year, Latino workers are killed and suffer workplace injuries at higher rates than all other workers. In 2010, 707 Hispanic workers – more than 13 a week – were killed nationwide from work-related injuries.

At the June 24 St. Joseph's Hea

OSHA's nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather continues through these sweltering summer months with outreach through traditional and new media. OSHA took to the @USDOL Twitter feed and Facebook page to get the word out about our Spanish-language Heat app that calculates the heat index at a worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers.

lth Fair in Springdale, Ark. CAS Mary Walter of OSHA's Little Rock Area Office distributed Heat Illness and Fall Protection posters in Spanish and in English, along with quick cards and other informational materials to the nearly 100 members of Springdale's Latino community who attended. Several of the attendees said that they worked outdoors, were particularly interested in OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. Elvira Aguirre, from the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, also participated in the event. She brought heat stress and fall protection materials to the consulate to be distributed there.

On July 14, Jorge Delucca, CAS with the Oklahoma City Area Office, provided information about OSHA to 350 Mexican nationals who were obtaining passports and photo ID cards at the Mobile Mexican Consulate at the Catholic Charities facility in Tulsa. This was part of the Alliance between the Mexican Consulate at Little Rock and OSHA. Delucca explained OSHA’s mission to protect workers from injuries, illnesses and deaths caused by workplace hazards and provided a number of OSHA publications in Spanish.

For more information on OSHA's efforts and resources to protect Spanish-speaking workers visit the agency's Diverse Workforce Limited English Proficiency Outreach and OSHA en Español Web pages.


Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health meets in Seattle

The Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health held the final meeting under its current charter in Seattle, Wash., from July 24 – 25, 2012. Longshoring and shipyard workgroups led off the two-day meeting with a series of discussions on Tuesday, July 24, followed by a meeting of the full committee on Wednesday, July 25.


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Committee members visit a work site in Tacoma, Wash.

The meetings included visits to two maritime worksites in Tacoma, Wash., to observe log handling operations and to learn about how employers have incorporated requirements from the recently finalized Subpart F of the Maritime Standard at their facilities. As a result of the meeting, the committee recommended that OSHA create new guidance products on a range of maritime industry hazards, including hot work, log handling operations, confined space ventilation, and injury and illness prevention programs.

MACOSH provides recommendations and advice to the department of labor and OSHA on various policy issues pertaining to safe and healthful employment in maritime industries. The Secretary appoints new committee members to create a broad-based, balanced and diverse committee reflecting the shipyard and longshoring industries, representing employers, workers, safety and health professionals, government organizations, academia, and the public. To learn more about the Maritime Advisory Committee, visit OSHA's MACOSH page.

 


July 2012

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act gives OSHA its 22nd whistleblower provision

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, also known as the MAP-21 Act, was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, July 6. The law authorizes funding for a series of highway, mass transit and other transportation programs. Its whistleblower provision prohibits retaliation by motor vehicle manufacturers, part suppliers, and dealerships against employees for providing information to the employer or the U.S. Department of Transportation about motor vehicle defects, noncompliance, or violations of the notification or reporting requirements enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or for engaging in related protected activities as set forth in the provision.

The Act delegates enforcement of the provision to the Secretary of Labor, and OSHA is responsible for administering the department's whistleblower laws unless otherwise provided. The provision became effective upon the President's signature and the Office of Whistleblower Protection Program may begin accepting MAP-21 complaints immediately. To learn more about the statutes that OSHA administers to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, please visit whistleblowers.gov.


Scorching heat across the country puts outdoor workers' lives at risk: know the warning signs

From June 28 through July 8, a severe heat wave blanketed much of the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. It is estimated that thousands of daily high-temperature records were broken over that span. These dangerously high temperatures prompted excessive heat warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration throughout the nation. These warnings now include information that protects outdoor workers by describing the signs of heat illness and what to do if someone becomes ill.

OSHA and NOAA, along with an active community of stakeholders, are working in high gear to spread the message of "Water. Rest. Shade." during these heat waves and to make sure that the public has the most accurate information about the signs of heat illness. For example, it is important to note the primary signs and symptoms of heat stroke: confusion, irrational behavior, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness or convulsions – all associated with abnormally high body temperatures. Although heat stroke is usually associated with a lack of sweating and hot, dry skin, a significant percentage of individuals with heat stroke have moist skin and appear to be sweating, particularly in humid conditions. There is a widely held misperception that someone who is sweating cannot be having heat stroke. Heat exhaustion, if untreated, may quickly progress to life-threatening heat stroke. Body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10-15 minutes. The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are headache, nausea, vertigo, weakness, thirst and giddiness.


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Individuals suffering from heat stroke may have either sweaty skin OR hot, dry skin.
The primary signs are confusion, irrational behavior, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness or convulsions.

OSHA's heat safety app for Android and iPhones is also helping to get this life-saving information out to workers who are most at-risk. During the week that the heat wave began, the app was downloaded nearly 6,500 times, and has now exceeded 30,000 downloads. Visit OSHA's Heat page to download the app and find other useful resources, including radio interviews, new wallet cards and public service announcements in both English and Spanish. To order any of OSHA's materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.


Plan. Provide. Train. OSHA's national campaign to prevent falls in construction


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NEW "Safety Pays. Falls Cost." sticker.
Click here to order

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction. In 2010, there were 264 fall fatalities out of 774 total fatalities in construction. These deaths are preventable. Help support OSHA's Fall Prevention campaign by reaching out to workers and employers in your community with the resources available at www.osha.gov/stopfalls. The newest of these resources is a "Safety Pays. Falls Cost" sticker that can be affixed to equipment on a worksite. To order these or any of OSHA's outreach materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.


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OSHA cites Long Island, N.Y., machine shop for failing to correct previously cited hazards

OSHA has cited Simtek Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards as well as failing to correct eight hazardous conditions cited during a 2011 OSHA inspection that was prompted by a worker injury. The Amityville metal fabrication shop faces a total of $138,765 in proposed fines based on the latest inspection for new, recurring and uncorrected hazards.

OSHA originally cited Simtek in June 2011 for 20 violations of workplace safety standards, including missing or incomplete energy control procedures and various electrical hazards. The proposed penalties from that inspection total $60,600. The agency initiated a follow-up inspection in January of this year to verify whether the cited hazards had been abated. Inspectors found that Simtek still had not developed and put into use energy control procedures to lock out machines' power sources to prevent them from starting up during maintenance, nor had the company provided training and tools to workers who perform the maintenance. It also had failed to correct several electrical hazards such as misused electrical equipment, unused electrical openings, uncovered electrical cabinets and electrical cords that were spliced and lacked strain relief. See the news release for more information.

OSHA has placed Simtek in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing certain willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Visit the OSHA Web site for more details on SVEP and the current citations (PDF*) against Simtek.


OSHA cites two Florida companies for trenching hazards following worker injury at Bradenton job site

OSHA has cited two Florida companies for trenching hazards. The agency opened an inspection after receiving a complaint in January that an excavation sidewall had collapsed and buried a worker, who sustained a broken hip and was hospitalized. The incident occurred while workers were installing two grease traps for a newly constructed Wal-Mart store on Ranch Lake Boulevard in Bradenton.

One company has been cited with one willful violation for failing to remove workers from an unprotected 12-foot-deep excavation when it has been identified as unsafe. Additionally, the company has been cited with one serious violation for failing to provide excavation safety training to employees who are required to work in excavations greater than 5 feet deep. The other company was cited for one willful violation involving failing to ensure that cave-in protection was provided. Proposed penalties to both companies total $124,600. See the news release for more information.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Visit OSHA's Web site for detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards.


OSHA publishes Final Rule on whistleblower retaliation complaints made under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

OSHA has published a Final Rule on the "Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."

Effective July 10 the Final Rule, among other provisions, ensures complainants receive copies of correspondence and evidence OSHA sends to respondents before ordering preliminary reinstatement, and that complainants have an opportunity to respond to the respondent's submissions during OSHA's investigation. The Final Rule also allows complainants to inform OSHA of their district court complaint by providing OSHA a copy up to seven days after filing, and allows complainants 14 days, rather than 10 business days, to petition for review by the Administrative Review Board. The rule incorporates edits made in response to comments received on the Interim Final Rule published in August 2010 and is consistent with the procedures published in the Sarbanes-Oxley Interim Final Rule, to the extent permissible by statute.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food, safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. To learn more, visit OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program page.


Michaels speaks at international occupational health and safety conference

Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels led the U.S. delegation to a Joint U.S.-E.U. Conference on Health and Safety at Work with delegates from the European Union, where he delivered a keynote address. An international group of labor representatives, employers, scientists and safety and health specialists attended the conference from July 11-13 in Brussels, Belgium, to develop strategies to improve conditions for workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

"These meetings provide us a valuable opportunity to collaborate, share ideas and, together, develop solutions to key occupational safety and health problems," Dr. Michaels said. Calling on the delegates to find areas of agreement, Michaels said, "In a time of multinational corporations and interconnected economies, global approaches to improving workplace safety and health are not only better for workers; they also reduce barriers to trade and promote economic growth."

Discussions centered around topics that present opportunities for increased cooperation, such as the green economy, nanotechnology, chemical hazards, prevention of catastrophic workplace events, and the use of recordkeeping and data collection to improve worker safety and health. To read the speech, visit OSHA's Speeches page.


Deputy Assistant Secretary testifies on OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs


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On June 28, Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's Subcommittee on Workforce Protections about OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs.
"OSHA is very proud of VPP," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Barab. "we believe it represents a necessary and effective way to recognize and reward companies that have implemented safety and health management systems, maintained injury and illness rates below the national average for their industries, and excel in worker protection."
Following Barab's remarks, David Levine discussed his landmark new study on the benefits of OSHA inspections to workers and businesses. To learn more, see details of Levine's findings in a blog from Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels and read the Deputy Assistant Secretary's June 28 testimony in full.


During heat wave, OSHA calls for "Water. Rest. Shade."

On June 20, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels spoke with more than 80 meteorologists and weather broadcasters about OSHA's campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. Secretary Solis, Dr. Michaels, and Acting Deputy Director of the National Weather Service Steven Cooper also discussed the populations most at risk, the importance of acclimatization, and the value of using the buddy system to look out for heat illness warning signs in coworkers. Read more about the heat call in Dr. Michaels' most recent post on the DOL blog.

In addition, OSHA is posting more than 100 “Water. Rest. Shade.” billboards across four states to educate employers and workers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. The billboards will appear in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Illinois – the four states with the highest number of occupational heat-related fatalities in 2010. They direct viewers, in both English and Spanish, to visit OSHA's heat illness web page for bilingual educational materials, a downloadable smart phone app, workplace training, and other information on how to prevent heat illness and what to do in an emergency. The billboards, provided by Lamar Outdoor Advertising, will be in place for eight weeks, running from mid-June through August.


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OSHA's Heat Campaign billboards

OSHA offices around the country are also responding to the summer heat with resources, information, and outreach, including radio interviews and new wallet cards. These new cards, which are small enough for workers and employers to carry in their wallets, include some heat illness symptoms to watch out for as well as a QR code that workers and employers can scan with any smartphone to access OSHA's Heat page and online resources. Smartphone users with a camera phone can download a free QR reader from their app store and scan the image to open a web page in their phone's browser. OSHA also encourages iPhone and Android users to download the OSHA Heat App, which just reached the benchmark of over 25,000 downloads. To order any of OSHA's materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.


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OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention Campaign Wallet Cards: Order now

Norfolk Southern Railway Co. ordered by OSHA to pay more than $800,000 after terminating injured workers

OSHA has found that Norfolk Southern Railway Co. violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act and consequently has ordered the company to pay three whistleblowers $802,168.70 in damages, including $525,000 in punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Three concurrent investigations were completed by OSHA's offices in Columbia, S.C., Nashville, Tenn., and Harrisburg, Pa. A laborer based in Greenville, S.C., was terminated on Aug. 14, 2009, after reporting an injury as a result of being hit by the company's gang truck. In Louisville, Ky., an engineer at a Norfolk Southern facility was terminated on March 31, 2010, after reporting an injury as a result of tripping and falling in a locomotive restroom. Finally, on July 22, 2010, a railroad conductor based in Harrisburg, Pa., was terminated after reporting a head injury sustained when he blacked out and fell down steps while returning from the locomotive lavatory. The company, after an investigative hearing presided over by management officials, found the employee guilty of falsifying a report of a work-related injury, failing to promptly report the injury, and making false and conflicting statements. The day before the injury, the employee had been lauded for excellent performance, highlighted by no lost work time due to injuries in his 35-year career. OSHA found that the investigative hearing was flawed, and there was no evidence the employee intended to misrepresent his injury. Read the news release for more information.

"Firing workers for reporting an injury is not only illegal, it also endangers all workers. When workers are discouraged from reporting injuries, no investigation into the cause of an injury can occur," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "To prevent more injuries, railroad workers must be able to report an injury without fear of retaliation. The Labor Department will continue to protect all employees, including those in the railroad industry, from retaliation for exercising these basic worker rights. Employers found in violation will be held accountable."

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, workplace safety and health regulations, and consumer product safety laws. To learn more, visit OSHA’s Whistleblower page.


OSHA fines 4 contractors more than $460,000 for exposing workers to falls, other safety hazards at Jersey City, NJ, construction site

OSHA has cited four New Jersey contractors working on a 20-story building in Jersey City for exposing workers to fall hazards following a December 2011 inspection. Altura Concrete Inc. and Nathil Corp., both of Hasbrouck Heights, and White Diamonds Properties LLC and Blade Contracting Inc., both of Jersey City, face total proposed fines of $463,350.

OSHA inspectors observed employees working on the fourth floor of a building without personal fall protection or fall protection systems. Altura Concrete Inc. and Nathil Corp. have been cited for five willful violations for failing to protect workers from fall hazards created by open sides and edges, and failing to protect workers from fall hazards created by the misuse of self-supporting stepladders. The companies also received citations for nine serious violations including failing to provide personal protective equipment. Also cited were general contractor White Diamonds Properties, issued two willful and five serious violations, and masonry contractor Blade Contracting, for three serious violations. For more details, read the news release.

Every year hundreds of construction workers are killed on the job in falls from heights. To learn more about how to prevent deadly falls in construction, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls.


OSHA holds 10-hour marathon construction safety training in Houston

On June 16, OSHA collaborated with the Hispanic Contractors Association De Tejas (HCAT) and the American Sub-Contractors Association to hold a 10-hour marathon training session to promote safety and health for construction workers in the Greater Houston area.
Participants who successfully completed the course received an OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Department of Labor completion card the same day. OSHA granted an exception to its training limit of 7.5 hour per day to allow this unique opportunity. HCAT has a regional Alliance with OSHA offices of Region VI, where they have trained more than 5,000 workers and saved millions for the construction industry.

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Employees proudly showing their OSHA 10 cards with trainer and OSHA representative, Mark A. Hernandez (in yellow shirt).

During the marathon safety training event, HCAT trained 791 workers in both English and Spanish, setting a record for the most trained in a single session. OSHA compliance officer and trainer Mark A. Hernandez said, “It was a true privilege working with all the volunteers to make this training day a tremendous success.” The Spanish-language television network Univision was on hand to highlight the morning activities by interviewing some workers as well as Javier Arias, Executive Director for HCAT. The interviews aired that evening to approximately 30,000 viewers.


Vulnerable worker outreach in Delaware and New Jersey

On June 10, OSHA's Region III hosted an OSHA Hispanic Safety Summit in Seaford, Delaware. More than 100 workers attended this free event, including workers from the construction, poultry processing, agriculture, and landscaping industries. The summit featured a session on worker rights with a demonstration by OSHA staff and a session on preventing heat illnesses. There were also breakout sessions for poultry, landscaping, and construction workers that were provided in Spanish and included practical demonstrations. OSHA worked with a variety of groups on this summit, including the Delmarva Safety Association, the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health, the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia, the American Mushroom Institute, West Virginia University, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and Women's Bureau. To learn more, read the news release and view the slide show.
In addition, on June 23, OSHA's Region II co-sponsored a Summer of Safety Summit in New Brunswick to provide safety and health training to workers with limited English proficiency. OSHA teamed with New Labor, a New Jersey worker organization, to hold the summit, which was attended by workers from construction, warehouse and other industries. During the summit, workers were able to ask questions about specific hazards in their workplaces and were provided education about resources and solutions in a language they could understand.

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OSHA Region II staff helped to provide resources and training to vulnerable workers

 


June 2012

Harvard, Berkeley researchers prove OSHA regulation works

In a May 30 Harvard Business Review article, researchers Michael Toffel and David Levine emphasize the weight of their recent findings that OSHA inspections benefit both workers and businesses.

"Managers should welcome OSHA inspections," explain the researchers. "Randomly inspected establishments improve worker safety and reduce employers' premiums for workers' compensation insurance. And we found no evidence that these establishments suffer any of the competitiveness problems suggested by political rhetoric — like disruptions leading to lost sales or solvency concerns, or any effects on wages — compared to our control group. The differences are small but telling: OSHA inspections offer substantial value to workers, companies, and society."

Their Science article, "Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with No Detectable Job Loss," is now available for free through researcher Michael Toffel's publications page. For further details, read the updated blog from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA and the QuickTakes Special Issue about the results of the study.


Area offices reach out to employers and workers about Preventing Falls in Construction

As part of OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign, area offices throughout the country are conducting outreach activities to educate employers and workers about the dangers of falls in construction.
OSHA's North Boston Area Office invited 700 supply warehouses, building inspectors, and construction companies engaged in roofing operations, siding installations, gutter work, and solar panel installations to participate in a series of fall prevention seminars. Attendees participated in hands-on demonstrations of appropriate fall protection equipment, viewed presentations on fall hazards, learned general and specific applications of fall protection, and asked questions in Q&A sessions with OSHA personnel. To learn more about the seminars, contact the area office at (978) 837-4460.


Click here to order Fall Prevention materials in English or Spanish.
Order Fall Prevention materials in English or Spanish here.

In OSHA's Dallas Area Office, Compliance Assistance Specialist Elías Vela is spreading the word about "Planifique Proporcione Adiestre" ("Plan Provide Train") on Univision Dallas affiliate Channel 23. His interview reached approximately 150,000 Spanish-speaking viewers.
OSHA's Fall Prevention educational materials and resources are available in Spanish as well as English. More information about the campaign is available on OSHA's new Fall Prevention page.



Blunt-tip needles are safer for healthcare workers: FDA, OSHA and NIOSH issue joint safety communication

On May 30, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint safety communication with OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which strongly encourages surgeons and other healthcare professionals to use safer, blunt-tip suture needles instead of standard sharps.


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Blunt-tip suture needles can be a safer alternative, reducing the risk of needlestick injuries from suture needles by 69 percent.

Despite the availability of blunt-tip suture needles and the endorsement of their use by professional organizations, needlestick injuries are on the rise in surgical settings. OSHA, together with FDA and NIOSH, has been working to increase awareness in the healthcare industry that the use of these safer needles can reduce workers' risk of needlestick injuries by 69 percent and limit their exposure to Hepatitis, HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens.
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard requires the use of safer devices, such as blunt-tip suture needles, to protect healthcare workers. For more information, visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention and the OSHA FAQ on the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act.




Free smart phone app provides easy-to-access information on heat index, safety measures


OSHA's newest addition to its heat illness prevention materials is the OSHA Heat Safety Tool smart phone app, with vital safety information to help keep outdoor workers safe from the heat.
The app allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite. Based on the heat index, the app displays a risk level to outdoor workers. With a simple "click," users can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness.
For more information about safety while working in the heat, see OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page, including new online guidance about using the heat index to protect workers.
   

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Get the free OSHA Heat App for
 Android or iPhone.



Hosts of Discovery Channel's "Myth Busters" to judge new OSHA app competition

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, co-hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show "Myth Busters," will join a distinguished panel of judges to select a winner for OSHA's new Challenge.gov app challenge.


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Launched as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology's new Safety.Data.Gov website, the Worker Safety and Health Challenge asks developers to utilize government data to create applications for several platforms that address one or both of the following categories: tools that demonstrate the importance of knowing about workplace safety and health and/or tools that help young people understand their rights in the workplace. The competition judges will also include Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.
"We are always looking for better and more efficient ways to ensure all workers know about their lawful right to a safe and healthful workplace," wrote Dr. Michaels in a recent DOL blog. "The increasing use of technology by the federal government to open this process to the public's talents and the indelible civic spirit across the country is one terrific way for us to find those solutions."
To learn more about the judges, cash prizes, or contest rules and to find out how to enter the competition, read Dr. Michaels' full blog post and visit OSHA's challenge page at workersafetyhealth.challenge.gov.


Middleton, Mass., manufacturer pays $600,000 in fines, takes corrective steps following legal action by OSHA after 2011 explosion

OSHA has secured a settlement agreement with Bostik Inc., a Middleton-based adhesives manufacturer, to resolve litigation stemming from citations for safety violations following a March 2011 explosion.

OSHA cited Bostik in September after a six-month investigation found numerous violations of the agency's process safety management standard. Bostik paid a fine of $600,000 and is no longer using the direct solvation process at the Middleton facility. According to the settlement, Bostik has taken and continues to take corrective action to address deficiencies in its PSM program and enhance the program's effectiveness, and also agrees to submit proof of abatement to OSHA. For more details of the settlement, see the news release.


OSHA’s Free On-Site Consultation Program helps Florida cable and wire manufacturer to change workplace safety and health culture

With workers compensation costs exceeding $55,000 and injury rates far higher than the industry’s national average, Florida wire and cable manufacturer Cable USA LLC reached out to OSHA’s Free On-site Consultation Program for help. OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses to help them identify and correct hazards and improve their injury and illness prevention programs.


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The CableUSA team in September 2011.

Following the initial OSHA consultation in 2010, Cable USA decided to concentrate on increasing worker involvement in implementing a safety and health management program. A daily departmental inspection program was developed to eliminate or reduce hazards, improve teamwork, and develop a safety and health culture at the worksite. Together, the team of workers and managers collaborated to address electrical and chemical hazards, conduct air monitoring, and educate workers about proper hearing protection. As a result, the company’s workers compensation costs and injury and illness rates dropped dramatically, and Cable USA became a SHARP site in 2011.

In May 2012, Devin Brock, Cable USA’s Vice President of Operations explained, “The biggest success that we have experienced is the safety and health culture that permeates Cable USA because of increased employee involvement. It is this newly formed culture that has driven our improved safety and health statistics." Read more about Cable USA on OSHA’s Success Story page. To request a free consultation, visit OSHA’s On-Site Consultation page or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) to find an office in your area.


Assistant Secretary speaks at Omaha safety summit

On May 15, the National Safety Council's 29th Annual Safety and Health Summit in Omaha, Neb., featured a special presentation from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. Dr. Michaels emphasized OSHA's new campaign to prevent falls in construction as well as continued efforts to reduce grain entrapments prevalent in the regional grain industry.


Prestigious AIHA award goes to OSHA's Richard Fairfax


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The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has selected OSHA's Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax as the 2012 recipient of its prestigious William Steiger Memorial Award.

Fairfax, a certified industrial hygienist, has worked for OSHA for 34 years, beginning as a field industrial hygienist and progressing to Director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary in April 2010.

The AIHA is one of the largest international associations serving the needs of occupational and environmental health and safety professionals practicing industrial hygiene in industry, government, labor, academic institutions, and independent organizations. The AIHA Steiger award is named for Wisconsin Congressman William A. Steiger, co-author of the bill that established OSHA, in honor of individuals whose efforts have contributed to advancements in occupational safety and health.

Fairfax will receive the award at the 2012 AIHA Conference and Expo in Indianapolis June 16-21, where conference attendees will include Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels and Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Dr. John Howard.


New England “Roll-Up Day” teaches thousands of workers and employers about electrical safety, removes hundreds of electrical hazards from workplaces

On May 9, OSHA teamed with State Programs, Voluntary Protection Programs, SHARP companies and other partners across New England to share safety information and perform inspections and maintenance on electrical cords and devices at local businesses.

More than 3,200 workers and employers at over 100 sites across New England learned how to properly inspect electrical cords and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GRCIs) in their workplaces. Two-thirds of the participants reported finding defective equipment, and hundreds of electrical hazards and defective pieces of equipment were identified and removed from service. To learn more, visit the Electrical Inspection/Training Roll-Up Day Facebook fan page. Additional information about electrical hazards and protective measures can be found on OSHA's OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page.


OSHA kicks off summer campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses and fatalities among outdoor workers: Educational materials and mobile application available


Heat Illness Prevention Campaign ad

OSHA has kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat and steps needed to prevent heat-related illnesses. OSHA’s 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign builds on last year’s successful summer campaign as well as CAL/OSHA’s successful initiative in 2010. Nationwide last summer, OSHA participated in 500 national and local conferences, training sessions, and media events, and distributed more than 180,000 heat hazard materials in English and Spanish.

For outdoor workers, 'water, rest and shade' are three words that can make the difference between life and death," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said. "If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers, we can beat the heat."


The OSHA heat app
The OSHA heat app.

Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion. For 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,190 workers suffered from heat illness and 40 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Although outdoor workers in a variety of industries are susceptible to heat illness, those in construction and agriculture are the most vulnerable.

For information and resources on heat illness, visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or email Meilinger.Francis2@dol.gov. More details are also available in the press release (y en Español).



OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign: New OSHA and stakeholder educational materials on fatal falls


NORA fatality map
OSHA stakeholder NORA maps fatal falls for CY 2011

As part of OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign to prevent deadly falls in the construction industry, OSHA is working closely with NIOSH, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) program and scores of stakeholders to get resources out to employers and workers – especially vulnerable workers with limited English proficiency.

To raise awareness of the hazards of the construction industry, the NORA program has developed interactive maps which illustrate construction workers killed on the job, including in fatal falls. If you are aware of a construction worksite fatality that has occurred since January 2012, you can email NORA at fatalitymap@cpwr.com with the date, location, cause of the fatality, and your contact information.


Fatal falls among Massachusetts construction workers
Fatal falls among construction workers in Massachusetts over the last five years.

In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is working to inform construction employers, workers and other stakeholders about numbers and causes of fatal falls in the state (PDF*). In Massachusetts over the last five years, 44 construction workers fell to their deaths.

Across the U.S. in 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and another 255 workers were killed. For more information, visit OSHA's new Fall Prevention page.

OSHA also has new educational materials available. A new poster and factsheet—offered in both English and Spanish—provide employers and workers with life-saving information about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. To get copies of OSHA's new Fall Prevention poster or fact sheet in English or in Spanish, please call 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page to order online.


Fall Prevention poster
Fall Prevention Poster
English: HTML | PDF* — en Español: HTML | PDF*

Fall Prevention Fact Sheet
Fall Prevention Fact Sheet
English: HTML | PDF* — en Español: HTML | PDF*


NIOSH researchers find respirable crystalline silica hazard for workers engaged in hydraulic fracturing operations

On April 30, NIOSH researchers presented preliminary data (PDF*) which suggest that gas and oil workers may be exposed to dangerously high levels of respirable crystalline silica while performing hydraulic fracturing operations. The researchers found that nearly half (47%) of the workers sampled were exposed to levels of silica above OSHA's permissible exposure limits with almost 80% of those sampled exposed above NIOSH's recommended exposure limits.

The findings were reported by Eric Esswein during a meeting of the Institute of Medicine on The Health Impact Assessment of New Energy Sources: Shale Gas Extraction. The researchers identified seven primary dust generation points, which include refilling/hot loading and release from top hatches, T-belt operations, and the "dragon's tail." Esswein also discussed possible means of prevention through design.

Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles has long been known to cause silicosis, a disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. For more information, visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on Crystalline Silica.


I have rights

OSHA poster on young workers' safety and health rights now available for high schools and colleges

OSHA's "I have rights" poster for young workers is available for order. The poster is directed at workers aged 16-24 to provide information and educational resources about rights to a safe and healthful workplace under the OSH Act.

To request copies, call 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page to order online. Additional information for young workers, employers, parents and educators, can be found on OSHA's Young Worker page.


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May 2012

OSHA finds Florida canvas manufacturer and Louisiana riverboat company retaliated against whistleblowers

OSHA investigations have determined that a canvas manufacturer and a riverboat company violated the whistleblower protections of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and Seaman’s Protection Acts.

OSHA is suing LOTO Services LLC and its owner, Allan R. Lochhead, for allegedly terminating an employee at Aquatech's facility in Stuart, Fla. The worker filed a health complaint with OSHA after repeatedly reporting serious concerns to management regarding rodents and rodent droppings in the office to no avail. One day after the company was notified of the health complaint by OSHA officials; the employee was terminated. The employee filed a timely whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which concluded that the company and Lochhead had unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by the OSH Act. The suit seeks to have the worker reinstated and paid back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages. More details are available in the news release.

In addition, OSHA has entered into a settlement agreement with St. James Stevedoring Partners LLC New Orleans, which OSHA found also terminated a riverboat barge captain who twice reported an inoperable starboard vessel engine to the U.S. Coast Guard. The parties resolved their difference through a settlement agreement under which St. James Stevedoring Partners will pay a total of $245,000, including $23,451 in back pay, $70,352 in front pay, $133,106 in compensatory damages and $18,091 in attorney's fees, representing the most significant financial settlement under the Seaman's Protection Act (SPA) since OSHA assumed jurisdiction of the whistleblower provisions of that law in October 2010. Further details of the settlement are available in the news release.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the SPA and of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, as well as 19 other whistleblower statutes. Detailed information on workers' whistleblower rights is available on OSHA's Whistleblower page.


OSHA revises Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA's new harmonized Hazard Communication pageTo better protect workers from hazardous chemicals, OSHA has revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), aligning with the United Nations' global chemical labeling system (GHS).

The revised standard, once implemented, will prevent an estimated 43 deaths and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year.

For more information about the harmonized standard, read the news release, visit OSHA's new Hazard Communication page, and see the special issue of QuickTakes about HCS and GHS.


OSHA seeks comments on how to prevent worker injuries and deaths from reinforcing concrete activities and vehicle backovers

OSHA has issued a Request for Information* (RFI) that seeks comments on how to prevent injuries and deaths from reinforcing concrete activities in construction, and from vehicles and mobile equipment backing into workers in construction, general industry, agriculture and the maritime industry. OSHA will use the comments received to learn more about how workers get injured and what solutions exist to prevent injury and death, including possible regulatory action.

Comments on this RFI must be submitted by June 27, 2012. Interested parties may submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile. See the news release and the Federal Register notice for details.


OSHA issues memo on safety incentive and disincentive policies and practices

In a March 12 memo to OSHA Regional Administrators and whistleblower investigative staff, OSHA's Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax addressed workplace policies and practices that can discourage workers from reporting injuries and could constitute unlawful discrimination and a violation of section 11(c) of the OSH Act, or other whistleblower protection statutes. Some of these policies and practices may also violate OSHA's recordkeeping regulations, particularly the requirement that ensures workers can report work-related injuries and illnesses.

Ensuring that workers can report injuries or illnesses without fear of retaliation is crucial to protecting worker safety and health. If workers do not feel free to report injuries or illnesses, an entire workforce is put at risk: Employers do not learn of and correct dangerous conditions that have resulted in injuries, and injured workers may not receive the proper medical attention or the workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled. For more details read the memo and visit OSHA's Whistleblower page.


Grain employer sentenced for asphyxiation death of worker

On March 16, Farmers Union Cooperative Supply pled guilty and was sentenced in federal court in Lincoln, Neb., for violations of the OSH Act that resulted in the asphyxiation death of Donald Stodola, a worker at the Stanton grain-handling facility and elevator.

OSHA found that the employer did not evaluate permit-required confined space conditions by testing the atmospheric conditions in the boot pit for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels prior to worker entry. In addition to OSHA's citations, the employer must pay a $100,000 fine and serve two years of probation, during which time the company will be required to comply with applicable OSHA regulations, comply with an administrative agreement, and allow OSHA representatives to enter into premises and inspect them. For more information, read the Department of Justice news release.

Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins. To learn more, view OSHA's additional materials on grain handling, including OSHA's fact sheet (PDF*), wallet card (PDF*), and Safety and Health Topics page.


OSHA finds two railroads in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act for retaliating against workers for reporting an injury in New York, Connecticut and Idaho

OSHA investigations have determined that two railroads violated the whistleblower protections of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA): Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company and Union Pacific Railroad Company.

In the first case, OSHA determined that Metro-North Commuter Railroad Co. took retaliatory action against a New York worker at its Harmon Diesel Shop who reported a workplace injury. In this case, OSHA found that Metro-North interfered with the worker's medical treatment and forced him to work in violation of his physician's orders. OSHA ordered the employer to pay $10,000 in punitive damages to the worker and $8,830 in attorney's fees, and to expunge any adverse references relating to the employee's exercise of his FRSA rights from his personnel, safety and department files. Metro-North also must post a notice of worker rights under OSHA for employees in the Harmon Diesel Shop and on its internal website, and provide all diesel shop employees with information on employee protections for reporting work-related injuries.  For more details, read the news release. In a second case against Metro-North, OSHA found that the railroad retaliated against a Connecticut worker for reporting a broken toe after a jack failed and a rail tie fell on his foot, ordering damages of $75,000. This case was later removed to the Federal District Court in Connecticut, where a federal jury awarded the worker more than $1 million in punitive damages.

In a case against Union Pacific Railroad Co., OSHA found that UP retaliated against a locomotive engineer at the Pocatello, Idaho, facility who had reported that he was too sick to continue working safely and needed medical attention. OSHA found that while traveling between Green River, Wyo., and Pocatello, the Union Pacific engineer reported a migraine headache, blurred vision, dizziness, vomiting and a bloody nose. His supervisor, a railroad official separately named in the complaint, used threats and intimidation to dissuade the engineer from seeking or gaining access to medical care during his shift. The Department of Labor has ordered Union Pacific and a railroad official to pay $20,000 in punitive damages, $3,500 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and $1,323 in attorney's fees to the employee. More information is available in the news release.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, as well as 19 other whistleblower statutes. Detailed information on workers' whistleblower rights is available on OSHA's Whistleblower page.


Cal/OSHA issues citations to Community Recycling & Resource Recovery totaling $166,890 following two worker deaths

Cal/OSHA has issued sixteen citations totaling $166,890 against Lamont-based composting facility Community Recycling and Resource Recovery. The citations were issued as the result of an investigation triggered by the Oct. 12, 2011 deaths of two brothers, Armando and Eladio Ramirez, aged 16 and 22. The young brothers died due to inhalation of hydrogen sulfide gas while cleaning an underground storm drain system at the recycling facility.

The two workers were clearing debris from an obstructed ten foot shaft of the storm drain system. After Amando lost consciousness from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas, his brother Eladio attempted to rescue him, only to lose consciousness as well. Armando Ramirez was pronounced dead at the scene, while Eladio died at Kern Medical Center on November 14, 2011 after being taken off life support.

All sixteen citations issued to Community Recycling addressed the company's failure to have an adequate confined space program, including proper training, testing for atmospheric hazards, and rescue procedures. For more details, read the Cal/OSHA news release.


OSHA cites commercial construction employers in New Hampshire and Wisconsin for failing to protect workers from falls

OSHA has cited The MacMillin Co. Inc. for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following the death of a worker on Sept. 16 at a Keene Middle School construction site. Temporary employees working under the direction of the Keene-based contractor were erecting scaffolding when the plank upon which the victim was working snapped, resulting in a 27-foot fatal fall to the concrete floor below. An inspection by OSHA's Concord Area Office found that the scaffold had not been inspected for defects, the workers had not been adequately trained, and the employer did not determine the feasibility of or ensure the use of fall protection. The MacMillin Co. Inc. faces a total of $167,580 in proposed fines. For more details about the willful and serious violations, read the news release.

OSHA has also cited Neenah-based GTO Contractors LLC with six safety – willful, repeat and serious – violations for failing to protect workers from falls. OSHA began an inspection in September under a local emphasis program on fall protection after inspectors witnessed workers exposed to fall hazards at commercial roofing work sites in Janesville and Middleton. Proposed penalties total $121,660. Read the news release for more information.

Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction. For more information and educational materials, visit OSHA's Construction Industry page.


OSHA cites Willkomm Excavating & Grading of Union Grove, Wis., for failing to protect workers from trench collapse

OSHA has cited Union Grove-based Willkomm Excavating & Grading Inc. with two willful violations for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins at a job site in Greenfield. Proposed penalties total $60,500.

OSHA's inspection was initiated Jan. 5 based on a complaint and was conducted under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Workers were connecting water lines to the city water mains in a trench more than 6 feet deep. The violations were failing to remove workers from a trench when a competent person found conditions that could result in a possible cave-in, and to provide required cave-in protection. More details are available in the news release.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. For detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards, visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page.


OSHA reaches out to employers with high injury and illness rates

To help employers understand and improve their injury and illness rates, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels sent letters to approximately 14,900 workplaces with high rates of days away from work, restricted work or job transfer in 2010. For each 100 full-time workers, these employers had 2 or more injuries or illnesses that resulted in days away from work, restricted work or job transfer.  The national average is 1.8.

Dr. Michael’s letter encourages employers to develop their own safety and health plans to better protect workers. An excellent way for employers with 250 or fewer workers to address safety and health is to ask for assistance from OSHA's Free On-Site Consultation Program. OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems. For more information, read the full letter here.


OSHA reaccredited as an authorized continuing education provider

OSHA's Directorate of Training and Education (DTE) has been reaccredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) to continue providing work-related injury and illness prevention training.

DTE, which includes the OSHA Training Institute, offers a wide selection of courses and programs to help workers and employers broaden their knowledge of how to recognize, avoid and prevent safety and health hazards in their workplaces. OSHA also offers training and educational materials to help businesses train their workers and comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. To achieve Authorized Provider accreditation, the OSHA Directorate of Training and Education completed a rigorous application process. To learn more about the reaccreditation, read the news release.


DOL commemorates 101st anniversary of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

The Department of Labor has created an audio-enhanced website to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the deadly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. The fire killed 146 workers and was an early tipping 100th anniversary of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory firepoint in the struggle to ensure basic health and safety precautions in the 20th century workplace.

With audio tracks narrated by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and other senior Labor Department officials, the website highlights 21 locations throughout the New York City metropolitan area that played a role in the March 25, 1911, fire. Users can read and hear about the events that led up to the fire, its victims and the aftermath. For more information, read the news release and visit the new webpage.


OSHA, American Society of Safety Engineers renew Alliance to promote best practices to prevent worker exposures to health, physical hazards

A renewed Alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) aims to promote best practices for reducing and preventing worker exposures to health and physical hazards. The Alliance will continue to address non-English or limited English-speaking workers, motor vehicle safety, and awareness of workplace safety and health for public sector employees.

During the new two-year agreement, the Alliance will continue to work with ASSE's Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce group to translate Alliance-developed products for limited- and non-English speaking workers. For more details, read the news release.

Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. For more information, visit OSHA's Alliance Program page.


Video PSAs alert young workers to on-the-job hazards

Finalist submissions to the Oregon Young Employee Safety "O(yes)" Coalition Public Service Announcement Video Contest are now available to screen on YouTube. The contest, which was co-sponsored by Oregon OSHA, aims to bring greater awareness to young people about occupational hazards.


Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition PSAs
This finalist video alerts young people to workplace issues related to personal protective equipment.

Eleven videos from high schools across Oregon were selected as finalists in the contest. These videos can be viewed on the O(yes) "2012 Video Submissions" YouTube playlist. Contest winners will be unveiled on April 14.


Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis Announces Updates to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard

On March 20, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, joined by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, hosted a press teleconference to announce a final rule updating OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard.

Secretary Solis described that the revised standard will align with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals to better protect workers from hazardous chemicals and help American businesses compete in a global economy. "Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today," she said. "Revising OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace."

Assistant Secretary Michaels explained that OSHA's revised Hazard Communication standard (HCS), which will be fully implemented in 2016, benefits workers by reducing confusion in the workplace, facilitating safety training, and improving understandings of hazards, especially for low-wage and limited-literacy workers. The harmonized standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the United States or imported from abroad. For more information, listen to an audio-recording of the press conference and see the press release.


About OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)

Chemicals pose a wide range of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability, corrosion, and reactivity). OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), first issued in 1983, is designed to ensure that employers provide information about these hazards and associated protective measures to their workers.

This is accomplished by requiring chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and to provide information about them through labels on shipped containers and more detailed information sheets called safety data sheets (SDSs). All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must prepare and implement a written hazard communication program, and must ensure that all containers are labeled, workers are provided access to SDSs, and an effective training program is conducted for all potentially exposed workers.

The HCS gives workers the right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace. When workers have this information, they can participate in their employers' protective programs and take steps to protect themselves. More information about the HCS and workers' right-to-know can be found here.


The Right to Understand

Workers have sometimes had difficulty understanding information presented on safety data sheets (SDSs). In some cases the length and complexity of the documents have made it difficult for workers to locate important safety information. In one testimony, a hospital safety director described a situation in which a worker was unable to find critical information on an SDS in an emergency situation:

". . . two gallons of the chemical xylene spilled in the lab of my hospital. By the time an employee had noticed the spill, the ventilation had already sucked most of the vapors into the HVAC. This, in turn, became suspended in the ceiling tile over our radiology department. Twelve employees were sent to the emergency room. To make the matter worse, the lab employee was frantically searching through the binder in her area for [the SDS for] xylene. Once she found it, she had difficulty locating the spill response section. After notifying our engineering department, she began to clean up the spill with solid waste rags, known for spontaneous combustion, and placing the rags into a clear plastic bag for disposal. She did not know that xylene has a flash point of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. She then walked the bag down to our incinerator room and left it there, basically creating a live bomb. Twelve people were treated from this exposure. The lab employee was very upset and concerned about the safety of the affected employees and visitors, and hysterically kept stating that she could not find the necessary spill response information."

OSHA's harmonized standard will ensure that workers have access not only to labels and safety data sheets, but also to information that is easier to find and understand through the use of standardized formats and label elements: signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements. As one participant expressed during OSHA's rulemaking process, this update will give workers the right to understand, as well as the right to know.


What is the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?

Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Chemical Classification and LabelingThe Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets. These criteria and elements will help chemical manufacturers to determine if a chemical product produced and/or supplied is hazardous and explains how to prepare an appropriate label and/or safety data sheet.

The GHS is not a regulation or a standard, but a set of recommendations that a competent authority such as OSHA can adopt.

The GHS is being implemented around the world in countries such as Australia, the EU, and China. The GHS Document (shown at the right) provides countries with the regulatory building blocks to develop or modify existing national programs that address classification of hazards and transmittal of information about those hazards and associated protective measures. This helps to ensure the safe use of chemicals as they move through the product life cycle and around the world. More information about GHS and The Purple Book is available here.


Why Modify HCS?

OSHA's adoption of the GHS won't change the framework and scope of the current HCS, but will help ensure improved quality and more consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive.

Aligning the HCS with the GHS will enhance worker comprehension of hazards, especially for low and limited-literacy workers, reduce confusion in the workplace, facilitate safety training, and result in safer handling and use of chemicals. The harmonized format of the safety data sheets will enable workers to access the information more efficiently.

In addition, under the current system, multiple labels and safety data sheets must often be developed for the same product when shipped to different countries. This creates a major compliance burden for chemical manufacturers and those involved in international trade, increasing the cost of providing hazard information. The adoption of GHS will reduce trade barriers and minimize this burden.


Benefits of Harmonization

Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today. Revising OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive.

Benefits to workers and members of the public include consistent, simplified communications on chemical hazards, safe handling practices, greater awareness of hazards, and overall safer use of chemicals. Benefits to employers include safer work environments, improved relations with workers, increased efficiency, reduced costs of compliance, and expanded use of training programs on health and safety.

For more information about the benefits of harmonization, visit OSHA's Guide to the GHS.


New harmonized sample label

New harmonized sample label.

Changes to Anticipate

The revised Hazard Communication Standard will now provide specific criteria for health and physical hazards to help chemical manufacturers and importers classify chemical hazards. Hazard classification is the procedure of identifying and evaluating available scientific evidence to determine if a chemical is hazardous, and the degree of the hazard.

Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide new labels that include a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement based on the hazard classification. Precautionary statements must also be provided. Safety data sheets (SDS) will have a specified 16-section format.

The modified HCS will also require that workers receive information and training by December 1, 2013 to facilitate recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data sheets.


What Do the New Pictograms Look Like?

There are nine pictograms under the GHS to convey the health, physical and environmental hazards. The final Hazard Communication Standard requires eight of these pictograms, the exception being the environmental pictogram, as environmental hazards are not within OSHA's jurisdiction.

The hazard pictograms and their corresponding hazards are shown below.

HCS Pictograms and Hazards


What Employers Need to Do and When (Effective Dates)

Employers must train workers on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013. Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with all modified provisions of the final rule by June 1, 2015. However, distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015. By June 1, 2016, employers must update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary, and provide additional worker training for new identified physical and health hazards. During this transition period, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers may comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.

For more information about the phase-in dates required under the revised Hazard Communication Standard, see the chart on OSHA's effective dates.

 


March 2012

OSHA orders Georgia-based Interline Logistics Group to reinstate, pay more than $190,000 to terminated whistleblower in Illinois

OSHA has ordered Interline Logistics Group LLC to immediately reinstate a truck driver in Sauk Village, Ill., who was terminated after reporting safety concerns about the brakes on his truck and refusing to violate U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for allowable driving and rest hours.

OSHA also has ordered the company to pay the driver more than $190,000 in back wages, compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and punitive damages, and to refrain from retaliating against the employee for exercising rights guaranteed under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s (STAA) whistleblower provision. For more information, see the news release.

Detailed information on workers’ whistleblower rights, including fact sheets with information on how to file a complaint with OSHA, is available online at www.whistleblowers.gov.

OSHA cites 2 companies, proposes $288,000 in fines for workplace safety and health violations involving foreign students

OSHA has cited Exel Inc. for nine, including six willful, workplace safety and health violations at the Eastern Distribution Center III, a facility in Palmyra, Pa., owned by the Hershey Co. and operated by Exel. Proposed penalties total $283,000. OSHA also has cited the SHS Group LP, doing business as SHS Staffing Solutions, for one violation with a proposed penalty of $5,000.
OSHA's inspection was conducted in response to a complaint filed by the National Guestworker Alliance on behalf of a group of foreign students who were performing summer jobs at the Palmyra facility under the U.S. Department of State's J-1 visa program. Under a contract with Exel, SHS Staffing Solutions hired the students to work at the Palmyra site repackaging Hershey candies for promotional displays. See the news release for more information.

OSHA extends temporary enforcement measures in residential construction

OSHA will extend for six months its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction. The temporary enforcement measures, extended through September 15, 2012, include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to assure consistency and increased outreach. Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction.
Over the past year, OSHA has worked closely with the industry, conducting over 1,000 outreach sessions nationwide to assist employers in complying with the new directive. OSHA will continue to work with employers to ensure a clear understanding of, and to facilitate compliance with, the new policy.
OSHA's Web page also has a wide variety of educational and training materials to assist employers with compliance, including multiple easy-to-read fact sheets, PowerPoint and slide presentations, as well as other educational materials. To access these materials, visit OSHA's Fall Protection in Residential Construction page.

OSHA cites grain company after 2 teenage workers suffer leg amputations at Kremlin, Okla., facility

OSHA has cited Zaloudek Grain Co. with four serious safety violations following an incident involving two 17-year-olds in August 2011. Both suffered leg amputations when they became caught in an inadequately guarded screw auger while cleaning out a grain flat storage structure at the company's facility in Kremlin. OSHA investigators found serious violations including failures to affix or secure the machine guard over the moving screw auger, provide training for workers assigned to enter grain structures, ensure the storage structure's exit was free and unobstructed, and provide exit signs from the storage structure. Proposed penalties total $21,500. See the news release for more information.
In September, OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office opened a separate, comprehensive safety inspection of the Kremlin facility under the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities that uncovered five additional serious violations. Citations, with fines totaling $12,500, were issued on Dec. 20 and contested by the employer.
OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries in grain storage bins. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter to 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions.

OSHA proposes $365,500 in fines to Wal-Mart for repeat and serious safety and health hazards at Rochester, N.Y., store

OSHA cited Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for a total of 24 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its supercenter store No. 2859 in Rochester. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer faces a total of $365,500 in proposed fines following inspections conducted by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office initiated in response to a complaint.
The Rochester inspections led OSHA to identify fall hazards, obstructed exit routes, an absence of lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources that would allow workers to safely perform maintenance on a compactor, an unguarded grinder, no training for workers using personal protective equipment, a lack of eye and face protection, and a lack of information and training on hazardous chemicals in the workplace. These conditions resulted in citations for 10 repeat violations with $288,000 in fines. See the news release for more information.

IOSHA cites 3 employers following investigations after fatal injuries at 2011 Indiana State Fair

Indiana OSHA has cited three organizations involved in the Indiana State Fair accident on August 13, 2011 that resulted in fatal injuries of two workers. Fifty-eight people were injured and 7 were killed when a gust of wind toppled stage equipment just before the band Sugarland was scheduled to perform.
IOSHA cited the Indiana State Fair Commission with one serious violation for failure to conduct a life safety evaluation and cited Local 30 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for 3 serious violations. Violations included failure to consider soil conditions when placing cable anchor points for the grandstand stage; failure to provide fall protection for workers 4 feet or more above ground level; and, failure to conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment of the worksite to determine the personal protective equipment required while erecting the load bearing roof and the grandstand.
IOSHA also cited Mid-America Sound Corporation for 3 knowing violations, including failure to develop and implement an Operations Management Plan, failure to develop a risk assessment plan, failure to maintain and use current engineering calculations and documentation, and failure to provide appropriate, qualified supervision. See the news release* for more information.

OSHA proposes $169,000 in fines to Hartford, Conn., contractor for repeatedly exposing workers to cave-in hazards

OSHA proposed a total of $169,000 in fines against contractor Penney Construction Co. LLC, in Hartford, Conn., chiefly for exposing its workers to cave-in hazards while repairing a sewer line in a 10-foot-deep trench. An inspection by OSHA's Hartford Area Office found that not only did the trench lack any protection to prevent the walls from collapsing onto workers, the cave-in hazard was intensified by the presence of an unsupported sidewalk and catch basin overhanging the trench. OSHA standards require that trenches or excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse through shoring, sloping of the soil or use of a protective trench box. Even after being informed that the conditions posed an imminent danger, the employer continued to send workers into the trench. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards as well as safe working procedures is available on the OSHA Web site.
OSHA has placed Penney Construction in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in June 2010, the program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. See the news release for more information.

OSHA cites Beasley Forest Products in Georgia for combustible dust and other hazards; $78,000 proposed in penalties

OSHA has cited Beasley Forest Products Inc. for 21 safety and health violations at its Sandersville hardwood sawmill production facility. OSHA opened an inspection in October after receiving a complaint. Proposed penalties total $78,000.
Twelve serious safety violations involve failing to develop specific lockout/tagout procedures for the energy sources of equipment, properly use compressed air for cleaning, install guardrails on walkways to prevent workers from falling 5-18 feet, provide standard handrails on stairways, provide signage prohibiting unauthorized foot or vehicle traffic where logs were being loaded and unloaded, provide machine guards, repair a damaged ladder, allow access to the circuit breaker box, and install covers on electrical boxes for the sorter control cab and the sorter system.
Four serious health violations include failing to establish and implement a hazard communication program for workers exposed to combustible dust, prevent the accumulation of combustible dust, implement a hearing conservation program, and properly store oxygen and acetylene cylinders. See the news release for more information.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis promotes international worker rights through new collaborations

Secretary Solis and Minister Kharge
Secretary Solis and Minister Kharge, signing an historic memorandum of understanding for U.S.-India labor issues.

In two recent meetings, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis pledged to collaborate on international worker rights issues. At a Feb. 1 meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis met with Colombia Minister of Labor Rafael Pardo to discuss Colombia's recent achievements in protecting workers' rights, address challenges that remain, and award a grant of $2 million to the International Labour Organization (ILO) to develop a robust presence in Colombia.
The following day, Secretary Solis and Minister of Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge of the Republic of India signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage dialogue and cooperation between the United States and India on labor and employment issues. The memorandum will enable the Labor Department to begin dialogue with its counterpart in India occupation safety and health issues as well as other labor topics, with their counterparts in India.

New fact sheet provides information on protecting shipyard workers from eye injuries during welding and cutting operations

A new OSHA fact sheet, Eye Protection against Radiant Energy during Welding and Cutting in Shipyard Employment,* is intended to help prevent worker eye injuries in the maritime industry. Electromagnetic energy given off by an arc or flame, commonly referred to as radiant energy or light radiation, can injure workers' eyes. For protection from radiant energy, employers must ensure that workers use the necessary personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, goggles, welding helmets or welding face shields. This equipment must have filter lenses with a shade number that provides the appropriate level of protection. A shade number indicates the intensity of light radiation that is allowed to pass through a filter lens to one's eyes. The higher the shade number, the darker the filter and the less light radiation that will pass through the lens. Tables in the fact sheet provide the proper shade numbers to be used under various conditions when performing welding operations including gas and metal arc welding and oxygen cutting.

Nurses' miscarriages linked to chemicals at work

A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found a greater-than-expected risk of miscarriages among nurses exposed to hazardous substances at work. Occupational exposure to chemotherapy drugs and disinfectants were associated with increased risk of miscarriage. The published article is available in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
More workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other. Health care workers face a number of serious safety and health hazards, including bloodborne pathogens, chemicals, gases, lifting and repetitive tasks, workplace violence, radioactive materials, and x-rays. For more information, visit OSHA's Safety and Health topics page about healthcare facilities.



February 2012

New RAND study on the effectiveness of California's Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule

According to a new study by the RAND Corporation, a longstanding injury and illness prevention program in California succeeds in protecting workers when coupled with effective enforcement practices. The first-ever evaluation of the California Injury and Illness Prevention Program identified specific components of the California program, such as training and accident investigation, that are effective in preventing injuries. In addition, the report found that the approach used in California can significantly reduce workplace injuries, but only if it is adequately enforced. John Mendeloff, lead author of the study and a senior public policy researcher for RAND, suggested that safety and health impacts for workers are greater when employers treat illness and injury prevention as more that just a paper program. According to Mendeloff, the positive impacts are more pronounced when inspectors go beyond a simple review of employers' written documents. OSHA recently published a new Injury and Illness Prevention Programs White Paper and is very much focused on learning from California's experience, as well as those of the many other states that require or encourage Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. Read more on OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page.


OSHA orders AirTran Airways to reinstate pilot and pay more than $1 million in back wages and damages

OSHA ordered AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines Co., to reinstate a former pilot who was fired after reporting numerous mechanical concerns. The agency also ordered that the pilot be paid more than $1 million in back wages plus interest and compensatory damages. An investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program found reasonable cause to believe that the termination was an act of retaliation in violation of the whistleblower provision of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, known as AIR21. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provision of AIR21, as well as 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, workplace health and safety, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, maritime, health care, consumer product and food safety laws. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. See the news release for more information.


DOL files complaint to require DeMoulas Super Markets to address hazards at Market Basket stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

The Department of Labor's regional solicitor's office in Boston filed a complaint against DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., doing business as Market Basket, with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). The complaint asks the commission to order the Tewksbury, Mass.-based chain to comply with OSHA's safety standards designed to protect employees from fall and laceration hazards at the employer's more than 60 stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This request for enterprise-wide relief is based upon hazards OSHA found during inspections of various DeMoulas stores, including the agency's most recent inspections at Market Basket stores in Rindge and Concord, N.H. Those inspections resulted in citations and proposed OSHA fines totaling $589,200, which DeMoulas contested to OSHRC. See the news release for more information.


Owner of N.H. gunpowder plant faces criminal charges after 2010 explosion that killed two workers

A grand jury convened in Coos County, N.H., has indicted Craig Sanborn, owner of gunpowder manufacturer Black Mag LLC, for manslaughter and negligent homicide as a result of a deadly 2010 explosion that took the lives of two workers at the company's Colebrook, N.H., worksite. The workers, Jesse Kennett and Donald Kendall, who had been on the job for only a month, were being required to hand feed explosive powder into operating equipment because the employer failed to implement essential protective controls. The multiple explosions that occurred when the powder detonated killed both men and blew out the walls and roof of the worksite. Four months earlier another worker had suffered serious burns from a flash fire at the facility. OSHA issued 54 citations to Black Mag with penalties totaling $1,232,500 following an investigation that found the employer had shown willful indifference to protecting the safety and lives of his workers by failing to provide training, locate operators at safe locations while equipment was operating and separate workstations by distance or barriers. The employer also failed to provide fire resistant clothing, face shields and gloves; to safely store gun powder; and to identify explosion hazards in the company's operating procedures. See the October 2010 news release for more examples of Black Mag's numerous safety and health violations.


Cal/OSHA Issues $256,445 in citations to warehouse operators

The California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) issued $256,445 in citations to two companies in Chino, Cal., for violations discovered during warehouse inspections that found unsafe working conditions. Cal/OSHA issued citations to warehouse owner National Distribution Centers and its temporary staffing contractor, Tri State Staffing, for more than 60 violations at four warehouses. The violations include lack of fall protection for high-rise pickers, unstable storage stacking and unguarded machinery. Cal/OSHA found a dual-employer relationship-where one employer hires workers and provides them to another employer-at three of the four warehouses inspected. In this situation, both employers are potentially liable for violations of safety and health regulations that are meant to prevent workers' injuries or illnesses. The warehouse inspections were prompted by complaints received from Warehouse Workers United and a worker's heat illness injury in August 2011. The employer failed to recognize the symptoms as heat-related or address conditions that led to the worker's illness. See the news release for more information.


OSHA cites Jennie-O Turkey Store for 11 safety violations after amputation of worker's arm at Barron, Wisc., processing facility

OSHA fined Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. $318,000 and cited the company for 11 safety violations after a worker's arm was amputated below the shoulder. OSHA initiated an inspection after a July 2011 incident, in which the employee's arm became caught in an energized machine while the employee was conducting cleaning activities alone in a confined space. Afterward, the employee had to walk down a flight of 25 stairs and 200 feet across the production floor to get the attention of a co-worker for assistance. In many instances, employees who work in confined spaces risk exposure to serious physical injury from hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and hazardous atmospheric conditions. See the news release for more information.


OSHA cites Illinois-based Growmark with 5 safety violations for failing to protect grain bin workers at Ixonia, Wis., facility

OSHA cited Growmark, which operates Frontier FS, a grain handling facility in Ixonia, with five safety violations, including one willful violation for failing to de-energize and lock out sweep augers before workers entered grain bins. OSHA initiated an investigation in August under its local emphasis program for grain handling facilities. Proposed fines total $84,000. In addition to the willful violation, two serious violations involve failing to provide body harnesses or alternative protection as well as rescue equipment for work inside grain bins where engulfment hazards are present. See the news release for more information.

Administrative law judge orders Newport, Del.-based Daisy Construction to pay $59,000 for willful trenching violations

In a recent victory for excavation workers who regularly face dangerous trenching conditions, an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has found that Newport, Del.-based Daisy Construction willfully violated OSHA's trenching standards. Judge Dennis L. Phillips ordered the company to pay $59,000 in penalties, resolving litigation that followed citations issued by OSHA based on a 2010 investigation. Two willful violations were issued for failing to provide workers working in a trench with an adequate protection system to prevent cave-ins and protect employees by removing them from the unprotected trench. One serious violation was issued for failing to instruct workers on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. The company contested the citations, and the case was litigated before the commission. See the news release for more information. Detailed information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA's Trenching and Excavation Web page.

OSHA schedules meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health

OSHA will hold a meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH) February 22-23 in Washington, D.C. Work groups will meet February 22 and the full committee will meet February 23. The MACOSH agenda will include discussions on working safely around radiation; person in water (man overboard); confined space ventilation; safe entry and cleaning practices for vessel sewage tanks; best practices for eye injury reduction; hot work on hollow structures; injury and illness prevention programs; container handling equipment; semi-tractor tip-over; top/side handler operation safety; staying focused on safety while working on or around cargo handling equipment; safety zones between railcars and cargo handling equipment; and preventing chassis drivers from jostling in the cabs. The formal announcement of the meeting will appear in a Feb. 3 Federal Register notice, which will include information on submitting comments and requests to speak.


OSHA and the American Pipeline Contractors Association renew Alliance to protect the safety and health of workers in the pipeline industry

OSHA has renewed its Alliance with the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) to continue working together to protect workers from serious job hazards during equipment operation, trenching and excavation, and hydrostatic testing. During the two-year agreement, renewed Jan. 30, the Alliance will share information on occupational safety and health standards, and workers' rights and employer responsibilities through forums, exhibits and stakeholder meetings. The Alliance will also focus on issues related to small businesses, distracted driving, and non-English and limited-English-speaking workers. See the news release for more information. Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. These groups include unions, consulates, trade or professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions. OSHA and the groups work together to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.


http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/quicktakes/images/noise-pocket-guide.jpgNew OSHA worker educational publication on protection from noise in construction

OSHA published a new educational publication for construction workers, Protecting Yourself from Noise in Construction. The booklet, written for workers and employers, provides information on the hazards of loud noise in construction, how noise levels are measured, and how to find out if noise on the job site or from tools is loud enough to cause hearing loss. It also gives examples of administrative and engineering controls employers can use to reduce worker exposure to noise, as well as information on the proper selection and use of personal hearing protection. To order copies of this or other OSHA publications please call 1-800-321-OSHA or 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications Web page.


OSHA educational facts sheets provide information on preventing falls in residential construction

Three recent Fact Sheets published by OSHA address fall prevention during roofing operations in residential construction. These and other Fact Sheets can be downloaded from OSHA's Publications Web page:


OSHA publishes new fact sheet on filing whistleblower complaints under Sarbanes Oxley Act

A new OSHA Fact Sheet provides information on whistleblower protection for workers who report alleged mail, wire, bank, or securities fraud. The Filing Whistleblower Complaints under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act* Fact Sheet is available on OSHA's Publications Web page.


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January 2012

The high costs of falls in construction for employers

A new OSHA PowerPoint presentation shows the heavy financial cost resulting from falls in construction. OSHA analyzed workers’ compensation data for injuries resulting from falls from elevations suffered by roofers and carpenters. The data, which covers 2005-2007, comes from 38 states, which comprises approximately 1/3 of total workers’ compensation benefits.

OSHA's analysis of fall injuries for roofers and carpenters found that: falls from elevations by roofers cost an average of approximately $106,000 each; falls from elevations by carpenters cost an average of over $97,000 each. To find out more information, view the PowerPoint presentation of Workers' Compensation Costs of Falls in Construction* posted on OSHA's Residential Fall Protection Web page.


OSHA orders Union Pacific Railroad Co. to reinstate and pay more than $300,000 to terminated whistleblower

OSHA ordered Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Railroad Co. to immediately reinstate an employee in Idaho who was terminated after reporting a work-related injury. OSHA also has ordered the company to pay the employee more than $300,000 in back wages, compensatory damages, attorney's fees and punitive damages. The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA, alleging suspension without pay and then termination 23 days after notifying the company of an on-the-job injury. OSHA's investigation found reasonable cause to believe that the disciplinary charges and termination were not based on the complainant breaking a work rule but on the complainant reporting an injury to the railroad, which violates the whistleblower protection provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). In addition to reinstatement and monetary compensation, OSHA has ordered the railroad to refrain from retaliating against the employee for exercising rights guaranteed under the FRSA. See the news release for more information. OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 20 other statues protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, public transportation, workplace safety and health, consumer product safety, health care reform and financial reform laws. Under these laws enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.


Grain company fined nearly $100,000 for exposing workers to unsafe conditions

OSHA issued LaBolt Farmers Grain Company, Inc. in LaBolt, S.D., 13 citations for exposing workers to unsafe conditions at its grain handling facility where a worker was caught in a moving bin sweep auger and suffered severe injuries to his leg and arm. Proposed penalties total $95,920. OSHA issued LaBolt four willful, six repeat and three serious citations. The willful citations address the alleged failure of the employer to develop and implement a written confined space program, ensure all equipment that presents a danger is neutralized, complete confined space and grain bin entry permits, and provide a competent person as an entrance observer. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. See the news release for more information. OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries. In addition to enforcement actions and training, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to grain elevator operators warning them not to allow workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions and training.


OSHA directive continues targeted inspection program for protecting federal workers

OSHA recently updated its Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program (FEDTARG) directive for fiscal year 2012. FEDTARG directs programmed inspections of federal agency establishments that experienced high numbers of lost time injuries during FY 2011. The directive outlines the procedures for carrying out programmed inspections at some of the most hazardous federal workplaces. Changes to this directive include provisions for reviewing alternate and supplementary standards for federal agencies, which are the equivalent of private sector variances from OSHA standards. Other changes include clarifications of how OSHA Area Directors determine the appropriate number and location of on-site inspections for establishments with multiple services or operations. FEDTARG12 continues OSHA's nationwide inspection targeting program for federal worksites. OSHA's Office of Federal Agency Programs (FAP) provides leadership and guidance to the heads of federal agencies to assist them with their occupational safety and health responsibilities. See the news release for more information.


New evaluation of OSHA effectiveness: Enforcement inspections and safety consultation visits effective in reducing compensable workers' compensation claims rates

A recent study of 10 years of Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (WA DOSH) enforcement inspections and safety consultation visits found that those interventions were effective in reducing compensable workers' compensation claims rates and lowering employer costs in the year following the visit. The issuance of DOSH citations for violations of standards, in particular, was shown to have a powerful effect on reducing compensable time-loss injuries. The focus of Washington State DOSH inspections is on hazards related to traumatic injuries that are covered by specific WA DOSH standards, such as unguarded machinery, lockout/tagout practices and fall hazards. At worksites where citations were issued, compensable claims rates for these types of injuries fell by more than triple the amount than at those having an enforcement visit without citation. The study was conducted by Washington L&I's Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program, and was reported at the recent NACOSH meeting. A summary of the study is available from Washington L&I's Web site.


ACCSH and NACOSH make recommendations to OSHA

The Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) and the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) both met between Dec. 14-16 at Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C., to advise OSHA on workplace safety and health issues. At the conclusion of the ACCSH meeting, the committee's Backing Operations Work Group submitted its report on hazards related to backing up construction equipment and recommended that OSHA develop two Backing Operations Web pages that separately address hazards in construction and general industry and address operating equipment with an obstructed view in any direction of travel. Other ACCSH recommendations included additions to OSHA's next Standard Improvement Project and basic principles for developing an injury and illness prevention programs proposal to effectively address multi-employer construction workplaces. NACOSH members recommended that OSHA keep the injury and illness prevention program proposed rule as the highest priority on the agency's Regulatory Agenda; enhance its efforts to issue the proposed silica rule so that the public hearing and comment period can commence and a final standard issued to protect workers from this serious workplace hazard; and support and fund, along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and other appropriate parties, a symposium to present best practices of small, medium, and large workplaces on injury and illness prevention programs.


Scrap metal processor improves workplace safety with help of OSHA's free On-site Consultation Service

As part of a commitment to protect its employees from workplace injuries, General Recycling LLC, a Flowood, Miss., scrap metal processor company, requested a free safety evaluation from OSHA's On-site Consultation Program to help the company expand its safety and health management system. Based on the information provided by the consultant during his visit to the plant, the company quickly corrected all identified safety and health hazards and improved elements of their safety and health management system. Just over a year after the initial visit to the facility, the consultant returned to General Recycling to conduct a follow-up visit and observed that the company's employees and managers were working together to improve safety. As a result of General Recycling's strong safety and health program and record, the company was accepted into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).


Indiana Safety & Health Expo and Conference to be held in March

National speakers and the most current safety and health industry information will be highlighted at the 2012 Indiana Safety and Health Conference, to be held March 12-14 at the Indianapolis Marriott East. The three-day event draws over 70 exhibitors and offers more than 50 courses with a variety of education tracks. These include construction safety; occupational health, industrial hygiene; worker's compensation and ergonomic safety; safety management practices; and safety fundamentals. Course information is designed to benefit safety managers/directors, industrial hygienists, contractors, plant managers, safety engineers, human resources managers, maintenance supervisors and other related personnel. See the conference Web site for more information and to register online.


Nebraska VPP Caucus shares best practices to promote continuous improvement in workplace safety and health

The Nebraska VPP Caucus, an informal organization of Nebraska's Voluntary Protection Programs sites, meets on a semi-annual basis to promote continuous improvement through the sharing of best practices. As an offshoot of these meetings, the Caucus initiated an outreach campaign that establishes each VPP site as the focal point for outreach programs in their respective communities. To date, the Caucus has held three meetings and plans to continue meeting semi-annually. Each day-long program is hosted by a participating VPP facility. Meetings consist of a discussion of emerging OSHA issues, strategic planning for community outreach, a presentation by the host facility and a "Best Practices" workshop. The Caucus' community-based outreach efforts include the Omaha Area OSHA Office's "Getting to Zero" campaign focused on reducing fatalities in the state through education and awareness, and an emphasis on young worker safety through such methods as adopting community schools, offering 10-Hour OSHA Outreach training to students, or hosting plant tours for students. In addition, VPP participant organizations regularly mentor other businesses in their communities, with regard to implementing effective safety and health management systems.


Duke University Web page provides information to prevent worker injuries from nail guns

The mission of Duke University's Web site, Nail Gun Safety: The Facts, is to help prevent nail gun injuries, which hospitalize more construction workers than any other tool-related injury and are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits annually. Most nail gun injuries are puncture wounds to hands and fingers, but some accidents have caused far more serious injuries and even death. It's not just people who use nail guns who are at risk, but also people who work beside them. Information about nail gun use on the Web site is intended to provide some training tools to help reduce injuries, save lives, promote safe work practices and to inform regulators and other industry stakeholders who can make the safe use of nail guns an even greater priority. Last fall, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released the booklet, Nail Gun Safety - A Guide for Construction Contractors*, to help construction employers and workers prevent work-related nail gun injuries.

 

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..Last Updated on 09/24/12