Assistant Secretary testifies at Senate hearing on chemical facility safety and security
On Dec. 11, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Environment and Public Works Committees. In his testimony, Michaels outlined OSHA's actions, as part of the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group, to improve chemical facility safety and security and to reduce risks to workers and surrounding communities posed by hazardous chemicals at these facilities.
The Working Group was established by Executive Order 13650 and directed the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation to identify ways to improve operational coordination with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners; to enhance Federal agency coordination and information sharing; to modernize policies, regulations, and standards to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities; and to work with stakeholders to identify best practices to reduce safety and security risks in the production and storage of potentially harmful chemicals.
The Working Group issued a May 2014 Report to the President (PDF*), summarizing the working group's progress, focusing on actions to date, findings and lessons learned, challenges, and short- and long-term priority actions. The report includes a variety of actions OSHA will explore to improve the safety of chemical facilities.
"These include considering changes to our emergency response standards, modernizing and updating the PSM standard and policies, regulatory changes to improve ammonium nitrate safety, and developing targeted outreach and guidance products," Michaels told the committee.
For more details, see Dr. Michaels' testimony.
DuPont cited for serious violations after failing to protect workers from hazardous chemicals at New Jersey plant
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. was cited for eight serious violations after an OSHA inspection found workers at the company’s Deepwater, N.J., plant were exposed to hazardous chemicals that leaked from a tanker truck. The chemicals are known to cause severe burns, respiratory and reproductive health issues. The inspection was prompted under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Chemical Process Safety after a complaint was filed. Proposed penalties total $120,300.
"The chemicals used at the Deepwater plant are corrosive and volatile," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Area Office in Marlton. "Releasing toxic, reactive or flammable liquid can cause serious injury and death. It's vital that DuPont recognize these hazards and take the steps necessary to prevent situations like this tanker truck leak."
In addition to serious violations cited under the process safety management standard, OSHA also cited DuPont for failing to perform an analysis addressing hazards related to the storage and transport of chemicals, failing to inspect and test the equipment used in chemical processes, and not addressing issues relating to hazards promptly. For more information, read the news release.
Worker suffers serious injury on 25th birthday at new job at Illinois wild bird food manufacturing plant
OSHA cited Wagner's LLC for willful, repeat and serious violations for exposing workers to dangerous machine parts. A 25-year-old employee spent his birthday in the hospital after his hand and arm were severely injured when caught in a moving piece of machinery. When the incident occurred, he was clearing birdseed from an industrial mixing tank at the facility. He had been on the job for two months. OSHA proposed penalties of $241,680.
"Failure to protect employees from dangerous machinery often leads to catastrophic injury or death. While this worker will see his 26th birthday, he will forever carry the memory and scars from this injury," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "OSHA's investigation found a breakdown in management, which led to this employee's injury. That's unacceptable. Workers should never be at risk because safety procedures slow production."
OSHA's investigation found that Wagner's failed to provide machine guarding, lockout energy sources to protect the worker from contact with rotating machine parts and unexpected machine start-up, train workers and conduct periodic inspections of written protocols related to locking out machines. For more information, read the news release.
Texas stamping plant cited for serious violations after exposing workers to amputation and electrical hazards
An OSHA inspection of D&D Manufacturing Inc. in El Paso, Texas, found workers exposed to amputations, electrical and other hazards. The metal stamping manufacturer was cited for 41 safety and health violations, including 36 serious violations, and proposed penalties of $181,800.
"Workers were at risk of serious injuries because D&D Manufacturing failed to guard mechanical and hydraulic presses and to ensure machines were de-energized during maintenance," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in El Paso. "Federal standards addressing these hazards have existed for decades. D&D's failure to follow these safety and health requirements is unacceptable."
Additional violations include failure to implement an effective hearing conservation program, assess the need for personal protective equipment, train workers on the use of respiratory protection and implement a written hazard communication program. For more information, read the news release.
Two Florida companies cited for trenching, excavation and other hazards in separate incidents that included the drowning death of a worker
The City of Weston work site where an employee of Ric-Man International died while conducting underwater construction activities on June 10, 2014. Courtesy of NBC6 South Florida
Following the death of a 45-year-old untrained diver, OSHA cited Ric-Man International Inc. for 19 safety violations, including one willful. The employee died while completing surface-supplied air diving during underwater construction activities for the City of Weston, Fla., on June 10, 2014. Proposed penalties total $161,000.
"Ric-Man International exposed employees to serious safety hazards when feasible methods existed to protect employees from cave-in and drowning hazards," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "The company must take the necessary precautions to prevent employees from exposure to these hazards."
OSHA issued a citation for a willful violation for failure to provide cave-in protection for employees working inside an excavation approximately 12-feet deep. Thirteen serious violations were issued for failure to ensure workers who performed diving operations were experienced and trained to perform underwater tasks safely; provide divers with a backup air supply, safety harness and two-way voice communication for emergencies; and to plan and assess risks associated with diving, including underwater conditions, obstructions and visibility. Read the news release for more information.
In a separate incident, OSHA cited Vallencourt Construction for two willful and five serious safety violations after the company knowingly endangered employees at a residential construction site by allowing them to work in an unprotected excavation. Proposed penalties total $169,000.
"Vallencourt's on-site managers saw workers in an unprotected excavation and knew the employees had not followed proper safety procedures, but they failed to take action to protect the workers," said Brian Sturtecky, director of OSHA's Jacksonville Area Office. "An employer that willfully disregards safety procedures puts workers at risk of being killed or seriously injured. OSHA standards exist to save lives."
OSHA cited the employer for willfully allowing employees to work in an excavation without cave-in protection and failing to ensure soil and rocks were two feet from the excavation’s edge to prevent these materials from falling in and injuring workers. Serious violations were issued for failures to conduct inspections on equipment used to lift construction materials, such as slings, hooks and cables; remove damaged lifting equipment from service; and use lifting equipment in a manner not intended by the manufacturer. Read the news release for more information.
Alliance with International Union of Operating Engineers will protect construction workers
The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program and OSHA have renewed an alliance to protect and educate workers on construction and excavation hazards. The alliance will focus on training employers and workers about crane operations, earthmoving, trenching and excavations and hazardous waste sites.
"We are proud to renew this alliance focused on education and training for apprentices and workers in these dangerous trades," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, Ill. "When workers are involved from day one in the training process, it creates a work culture in which safety is paramount, and that prevents injuries and illness and saves lives."
For more information, read the news release.
New educational resources: interagency fact sheet on safe handling of Ebola-contaminated waste, booklet on hydraulic fracturing hazards
Sharps containers must be closable, puncture-resistant, leakproof, and labeled or color-coded.
Workers involved in handling, treatment, transport, and disposal of medical, laboratory and other waste must be protected from exposure to infectious agents, including Ebola virus, which causes Ebola virus disease. Contaminated waste may pose a greater risk to workers if it is not handled safely or packaged, treated, and disposed of properly.
OSHA's new fact sheet, "Safe Handling, Treatment, Transport, and Disposal of Ebola-Contaminated Waste," (PDF*) was developed jointly with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. It helps employers take the necessary steps to protect workers whose jobs involve tasks throughout the waste cycle, from the point of waste generation through final disposition of treated waste products. The new guidance also encourages employers to create a waste management plan and secure necessary contracts and permits ahead of time in order to help avoid potential exposure hazards, security risks and storage problems.
In addition to exposure to the Ebola virus, the new interagency guidance also helps employers protect workers from physical and chemical hazards that may be associated with waste management. Visit OSHA's Ebola page for more information on how employers must protect their workers from the Ebola virus, as well as from these other related hazards.
As mentioned in the story above, OSHA also recently published Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica (PDF*). This booklet was the product of the OSHA oil and gas workgroup with assistance from the National STEPS network team.
Publications are available to download at no cost by visiting OSHA's website. To order publications, contact OSHA's Publications Office at 202-693-1888.
Central Transport LLC in Massachusetts fined for knowingly exposing workers to electrocution, fall, crushing and other hazards
OSHA has cited Central Transport LLC for willfully and repeatedly exposing workers at its freight shipping terminal to electrocution, fall, crushing and other hazards. The Billerica, Mass., company faces $330,800 in proposed fines.
“Several hazards were brought to management’s attention, but the company took no corrective action, while other conditions were strikingly similar to violations for which Central Transport was previously cited at its locations in Illinois and Mississippi. The cited conditions put employees at risk of deadly or disabling injuries,” said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s acting deputy regional administrator for New England. “It’s clear that Central Transport must systematically and effectively address and eliminate hazards at all its locations. The safety and well-being of its employees, now and in the future, depend on it.”
Violations include failing to inform workers of the dangers of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, and exposing workers to electric shock hazards, dangerous fork lift hazards and unguarded ramps. For more information, read the news release.
Virginia ship repair facility fined for repeatedly exposing workers to life-threatening safety and health hazards
An OSHA inspection of Colonna’s Shipyard Inc., a ship repair facility in Norfolk, Va., found that a worker welding the frame of a U.S. Navy vessel was exposed to potential falls of up to 30 feet by three open manholes just 1 foot away. OSHA cited the company with 12 serious and repeat violations and issued $101,000 in proposed penalties. The inspection was part of the agency’s Local Emphasis Program on shipbuilding and repair.
“Shipyard work is traditionally hazardous, with an injury and accident rate more than twice that of construction and general industry,” said Dan DeWease, director of OSHA’s Norfolk Area Office. “Colonna’s Shipyard must do a better job of protecting workers from the dangers associated with this type of work. With the right safeguards, accidents are preventable.”
In addition to unguarded manholes, OSHA inspectors also found that the company failed to provide fall protection, exposed workers to electrical hazards while welding and expected workers to use damaged electrical equipment and unguarded machinery. For more information, read the news release.
CDC report on OSHA's review of heat-related enforcement cases highlights need for acclimatization to prevent worker deaths
WASHINGTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today issued a report on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's review of 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013. OSHA's analysis, described in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, suggests that the primary risk factor for heat fatalities is the lack of acclimatization programs.
Of the 13 enforcement cases that involved worker fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days of working on the job, four of them occurring on the worker's first day. In all 20 cases, heat illness prevention programs were found to be incomplete or absent, and no provision was made for acclimatizing new workers to the heat. Acclimatization is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities, and workers should gradually build up workloads and exposure to heat by taking frequent breaks for water and rest in shade or air conditioning.
OSHA's national Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Workers, now in its fourth year, raises awareness among workers and employers about the risks for heat-related illness or death and provides tools to help prevent them. The agency's review found that the core elements of its campaign, "Water. Rest. Shade.," remain critical components of a comprehensive heat illness prevention program that can help save workers' lives. It is also recommended that employers have prevention programs that include oversight, hazard identification, a formal acclimatization program, modified work schedules as necessary, training, monitoring for signs and symptoms and emergency planning to prevent heat-related fatalities.
OSHA has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Since its 2011 launch, approximately 160,000 users have downloaded the app. For more information and resources in English and Spanish see www.osha.gov/heat.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
OSHA finds willful and serious violations in Wireless Horizon tower collapse that resulted in deaths of 2 cell tower workers
Following the death of two workers from the collapse of a cell tower they were dismantling March 25, OSHA has cited Wireless Horizon Inc. for two willful and four serious safety violations. The tower technicians, ages 25 and 38, were using a load-lifting gin pole attached to the side of the tower with a wire rope sling. The sling failed, causing the gin pole to fall and bring the tower down with it. Both workers fell to the ground during the collapse. OSHA placed the St. Peters, Missouri-based company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program following the incident and proposed penalties of $134,400.
"Two families have lost their loved ones in a preventable tragedy. No one should ever have to endure that loss. Inspecting and ensuring equipment is in good working order is a common-sense safety procedure that stop injuries and fatalities," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA expects tower owners and operators, such as Wireless Horizon, to protect their workers on job sites in this hazardous industry by increasing training and implementing all known safety precautions. Our nation's growing need for telecommunications should not cost workers their lives."
OSHA's investigation found that Wireless Horizon failed to inspect the wire rope slings prior to use and provide protection to the slings when rigged over sharp objects, failed to conduct an engineering survey and develop a rigging plan prior to beginning the demolition process, and did not provide the technicians a load chart for the gin pole in use or operator manuals. For more information, read the news release.
Willful, repeat and serious violations found in OSHA investigation of 51-year-old worker fatally engulfed in South Dakota grain elevator
A 51-year-old worker was fatally injured when he became engulfed in flowing grain in a railcar load-out elevator at Prairie Ag Partners. The worker was killed when attempting to remove a jam from a chute while the auger was moving. OSHA cited the Lake Preston, S.D., company for multiple violations, many involving OSHA's grain handling, permit-required confined space and fall protection safety regulations. Proposed penalties total $120,120.
"A worker can be completely submerged in flowing grain within a matter of seconds. That is what happened in this case, and a worker paid with his life," said Eric Brooks, OSHA's area director in Bismarck. "If Prairie Ag Partners had followed basic safety standards, this tragic incident could have been prevented."
OSHA cited Prairie Ag for allowing employees inside the grain bin while the auger and conveyor systems were operating, failing to complete a confined space entry permit before allowing workers to enter grain bins, and failing to provide fall protection for workers around an unguarded floor opening. For more information, read the news release. For more information on protecting workers who must enter grain bins, see OSHA's Grain Handling Web page.
Protecting what matters during National Farm Safety and Health Week
OSHA joined the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety's National Farm Safety and Health Week, held Sept. 21-27, to emphasize the importance of worker safety in the industry. The agriculture sector accounted for 479 deaths in 2013. With a fatality rate of 22.2 for every 100,000 full-time workers, agriculture recorded the highest fatality rate of any industry sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statisics.
Farmworkers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, heat exposure, confined-space hazards, noise-induced hearing loss, struck-by and fall hazards, skin diseases and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure. For more information and resources on keeping workers safe in these high-hazard industries, see OSHA's webpages on Agricultural Operations and Grain Handling.
During China trip, Michaels emphasizes the importance of involving employees in injury and illness prevention
Assistant Secretary Michaels addresses 7th China International Safety Forum in Beijing, China on Sept. 23.
On Sept. 23, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels addressed the 7th China International Safety Forum in Beijing. In his remarks, he emphasized the value of involving workers in a dialogue to develop and implement safety and health management systems: common-sense programs that give employers a process to find and fix hazards in the workplace before someone gets hurt.
"OSHA is committed to providing leadership in the effort to improve safety of workers around the world," said Michaels. "We can all agree that our economies must succeed, but never at the cost of the safety or health of our workers."
Michaels explained that injury and illness prevention is not only good for the safety and health of workers, but also for the employer’s bottom line. The costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses is substantial, costing the American economy as much as $198.2 billion in 2012 according to the National Safety Council. Safety and health management systems, which are used successfully around the world in enterprises of all sizes and in every industry, rely on management’s commitment to safety and workers who are empowered to participate. To learn more, visit OSHA’s page on injury and illness prevention.
OSHA's homepage gets a facelift
This month OSHA launched a new version of its home page at www.osha.gov. The page features a balance of graphics and text, making it easier to navigate. Drop down menus allow visitors to find information with one click. There is a “How To” section where users can get easy access to information in high demand such as OSHA’s FREE workplace poster and recordkeeping and reporting resources.
Users can stay abreast of OSHA’s hot topics and latest information by visiting the new home page. The page highlights OSHA’s major initiatives such as protecting temporary workers and preventing falls in construction. Visitors can follow OSHA by a real-time Twitter feed and the latest blogs posted on the page.
Visit OSHA’s new home page today!
OSHA issues citations for inadequate workplace violence safeguards at two New York facilities: Rikers Island and Brookdale University Hospital
In two separate cases, OSHA cited New York medical care providers for failing to protect workers from workplace violence and assault. One case involved Corizon Health Inc., which provides medical, dental and psychiatric services to inmates at the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City. A second case involved Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn.
The agency's Manhattan Area Office initiated the Corizon inspection in response to a complaint. OSHA found that workplace violence incidents involving Corizon employees at Rikers increased from eight in 2011 to 39 in 2013, and six incidents occurred during the course of OSHA's investigation. These included threats, physical assault, a Corizon employee locked in a cell by an inmate and the circulation of a hit list of Corizon staffers targeted by inmates.
"Corizon failed to address the serious problem of assaults against its employees until OSHA began its inspection," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. "Corizon needs to develop and implement an effective, targeted workplace violence prevention program that includes administrative and engineering control, as well as personal protective equipment and training, to reduce the risk of violence against its employees."
A willful violation was cited for failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program for its employees at Rikers, and review and correctly certify OSHA's illness and injury reporting form. See the news release for more details.
In a separate inspection, OSHA determined that employees at the Brookdale medical facility were also exposed to workplace violence hazards. The most serious incident was a Feb.7 assault of a nurse who sustained severe brain injuries. Citations included a willful violation for failing to develop and implement adequate measures to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of physical violence and assaults against employees by patients or visitors. See the news release for more information.
Read more about both cases in a new OSHA blog post about the hazards of workplace violence.
Rust-Oleum Corp. cited for exposing permanent and temporary workers to silica dust, amputation and electrical hazards
OSHA has cited Rust-Oleum Corp., doing business as Synta Inc., for 33 serious safety and health violations for exposing full-time and temporary workers to crystalline silica dust, amputation and electrical hazards. The proposed penalties total $188,500. Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles can cause silicosis, a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease.
"By failing to correct the violations identified, Rust-Oleum chose to ignore worker safety and exposed employees to hazards that could result in illness, injury or death," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Workplace hazards need to be addressed immediately and prevented from reoccurring by implementing an effective safety and health program."
OSHA cited the employer for one repeat violation for allowing employees to perform maintenance and service equipment without ensuring the machine could not restart, in addition to 26 serious violations for exposing an employee to crystalline silica at levels of more than two times the exposure limit; failing to develop procedures to protect workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance; exposing workers to crushing and struck-by hazards by not replacing or repairing damaged storage rack shelving; and allowing electrical equipment to be installed or used without following manufacturer instructions.
For more information and a complete list of citations, read the news release.
Oklahoma oil refinery cited for serious and repeat safety violations
OSHA has cited Holly Refining & Marketing–Tulsa LLC for three serious and five repeat violations for continuing to expose workers to hot surfaces of refinery process equipment, falls from heights and other hazards at its crude oil refinery. Proposed penalties from this February 2014 follow-up inspection total $184,800.
"Failure to ensure hazards are eliminated and do not reoccur is essential for employee safety and health. Negligence, such as that demonstrated by Holly Refining & Marketing is unacceptable," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "Previously cited violations were still present in the follow-up inspection, and those hazards expose workers to possible injuries, illness and even death."
Additional violations included failing to protect workers from falls through unguarded ladder floor openings and open-sided floors, and shock hazards from unsafe electrical equipment and wiring. Read the news release for more information.
#WeAllHaveRights: Labor Rights Week to highlight the rights of all workers
OSHA, together with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and Bureau of International Labor Affairs, will sponsor Labor Rights Week Aug. 25-29. In addition to holding educational events for workers, the agencies will be signing and renewing agreements with foreign consulates across the country to protect vulnerable workers in the United States.
In conjunction with Labor Rights Week, OSHA staff joined 400 workers on Aug. 9 at the Guatemalan Mobile Consulate in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., to discuss workers' rights and to distribute bilingual educational resources on falls in construction, tree trimming, heat stress, hazardous chemicals and other common workplace hazards.
To learn more or find a Labor Rights Week event in your area, visit OSHA's LRW Events Web page.
Alliance with Honduran consul to promote workplace safety, workers' rights
OSHA signed an alliance on Aug. 1 with the Consulate General of Honduras in California to provide vital workplace rights information to Honduran workers and their employers in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho. OSHA and the consulate will deliver information promoting workers' understanding of their workplace rights and employers' responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. For more information, see the news release.
Through OSHA's Alliance Program, the agency works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Each alliance develops compliance assistance tools and resources and educates workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.
OSHA education centers offer specialized safety training for the oil and gas industry
To help workers and employers better understand the hazards in the oil and gas industry, OSHA Training Institute Education Centers nationwide are offering the OSHA #5810 Hazards Recognition and Standards for On-Shore Oil and Gas Exploration and Production course. OSHA developed this course through a cooperative effort with the Rocky Mountain Education Center and industry professionals.
The course provides essential information to help workers and employers in all phases of on-shore oil and gas exploration and production recognize, evaluate, and control hazards common to the industry. For more information on this and other classes, please visit the OTI Education Centers' searchable schedule.
The oil and gas industry employs more than 450,000 workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012 alone, more than 2,400 workers were injured and 181 more were killed, which is five times higher than the national average.
New agriculture educational resources available on tractor and other farm vehicle hazards
Between 2003 and 2011, 5,816 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries in the United States. Tractor rollovers were the single deadliest type of injury incident on farms.
To help employers prevent injuries and deaths, OSHA has developed two new agricultural QuickCards: "Protecting Farmworkers from Tractor and Harvester Hazards" and "Backing Up Farm Vehicles and Equipment Safely." These resources explain the hazards and safety precautions to take to prevent serious injuries, and are also available in Spanish.
For more information about hazards associated with farm work, visit OSHA's Agricultural Operations Web page. To order quantities of these or any other OSHA materials, visit OSHA's Publications Web page or call the Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.
OSHA issues new directive to keep communication tower workers safe: new citations issued to protect workers
OSHA has updated its Communication Tower directive (*PDF) regarding the use of hoist systems used to move workers to and from workstations on communication towers. This follows an alarming increase in preventable injuries and fatalities at communication tower work sites. More fatalities occurred in this industry in 2013 than in the previous two years combined. This disturbing trend appears to be continuing, with nine worker deaths occurring so far in 2014.
The directive outlines the proper use of hoist and other fall arrest systems, includes detailed information on how to hoist people safely and updates a 2002 enforcement policy, which only covered the hoisting of workers to workstations during new tower erection activities. The updated policy covers any work on a communication tower - including both maintenance and new construction - that involves the use of a hoist to lift workers from one elevated workstation to another. For more information, see the news release.
In addition, OSHA has issued a number of recent citations to companies who are endangering tower workers. Recently, OSHA cited Ohio-based Morlan Enterprises with willful and serious safety violations after its workers were expected to free climb a 195-foot tower without adequate fall protection. For more information, see the news release.
In a separate incident, OSHA cited a West Virginia cell tower company for safety hazards following a tower collapse in February that seriously injured two workers and claimed the lives of two employees and a volunteer firefighter. While making modifications to an existing cellular communication tower, the tower collapsed while the employees were removing diagonal bracing. S and S Communication Specialists was cited for two serious workplace violations for directing employees to remove diagonal structural members on communication towers without using temporary braces or supports, and for allowing employees to be tied off to bracing that was not capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds. For more information, see the news release.
Temporary worker policy memorandum outlines responsibilities of host, staffing agencies
OSHA has issued a policy background memo to its field staff as part of its focus on preventing work-related injuries and illnesses among temporary workers. In the memo, the agency reminds OSHA field staff of the agency's long standing general enforcement policy regarding temporary workers.
"Too often in recent months, it has been OSHA's sad duty to investigate fatalities and injuries involving temporary workers who were not given the necessary safety and health protections required under the Act," wrote Thomas Galassi, director of OSHA's directorate of enforcement programs.
As joint employers, both the host employer and the staffing agency have responsibilities for protecting the safety and health of temporary workers. More information is available on OSHA's Protecting Temporary Workers Web page.
International Nutrition cited after its Omaha facility collapsed from overloaded storage bins, killing 2 workers, injuring 9 others
A structural failure of the east side truss caused the bins to collapse down three floors into the center of International Nutrition's Omaha facility, Jan. 20, 2014.
An OSHA investigation found that the Jan. 20 structural collapse of International Nutrition Inc.'s Omaha facility was caused by overloading storage bins on the building's roof. The collapse at the livestock feed supplement manufacturer caused the death of two workers and injuries to nine others. As a result, OSHA cited the company with willful, repeat and other safety violations for failing to protect workers from structural collapse hazards and proposed penalties of $120,560.
"International Nutrition's decision to overload these bins directly led to the deaths of these two workers and the injuries sustained by nine other employees," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Families lost loved ones because International Nutrition did not follow the basic safety procedures that would have prevented this senseless loss of life."
The investigation determined that structural failure occurred after bins of limestone were loaded onto the roof. The extra weight caused the bins to collapse three floors into the center of the facility in about 30 seconds. Willful and repeat violations included failing to protect workers from hazards associated with overloading bin structures and using compressed air at greater than the recommended pressure. For more details, read the news release.
Focused enforcement program launched to prevent injuries and fatalities in North Dakota's oil and gas and construction industries
Since January 2012, 34 North Dakota workers in the oil and gas and construction industries have died because of work-related injuries, accounting for 87 percent of all fatalities OSHA investigated in the state during that period. To address its ongoing concerns about worker safety in North Dakota's oil and gas and construction industries, OSHA launched an enforcement emphasis program last month that temporarily brings additional investigators from throughout the country to increase OSHA's field presence in the state.
OSHA has had a local emphasis program for the oil and gas industry for the last three years, which outlines hazards and allows for increased enforcement. The new, focused enforcement program includes chemical sampling of fracking and tank gauging operations to test for atmospheric hazards, violations found in recent inspections. OSHA's Oil and Gas Well Drilling eTool identifies common hazards and possible solutions to reduce incidents that could lead to injuries or fatalities. See the news release for more information on OSHA's efforts to protect North Dakota workers.
OSHA signs partnership with Georgia Tech and construction companies to ensure safety while building pharmaceutical plant
OSHA has formed a strategic partnership with Turner Construction Co., Fluor Corp., Foster Wheeler USA Corp.'s Process and Industrial Division, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Occupational Safety and Health Program. Representatives from the partnering institutions met July 15 to formalize the agreement that will ensure worker safety and health during construction of the Baxter International pharmaceutical plant in Covington, Ga. The partners will work together to reduce worker injuries and illnesses, increase safety and health training, share best work practices, and ensure that employers have appropriate safety and health management systems. This is the third partnership OSHA and Georgia Tech have formed this year to protect workers on campus projects. For more information, see the partnership agreement.
New OSHA Web page highlights earthquake preparedness in the workplace
OSHA has launched a new emergency preparedness and response Web page to protect workers from earthquake hazards. Worksites in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia are at risk for earthquakes that can cause injury, death and extensive damage to buildings and other infrastructure. OSHA encourages employers to stay aware of conditions that affect their workplaces, especially those at particular risk that are near fault lines or volcanoes. Employers should train workers on workplace evacuation and emergency action plans, and keep on hand emergency supplies such as battery-operated emergency radios and first aid kits. In the aftermath of disasters, employers must ensure that workers involved in response and recovery operations are protected from potential safety and health hazards. For more information, visit OSHA's Emergency Preparedness and Response page.
New resources: OSHA updates Heat Stress QuickCard
OSHA's updated Heat Stress QuickCardTM serves as a reminder to employers to acclimate workers to heat conditions. Employers should gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers who are new to the heat or those who have been away from work. The updated QuickCardTM also advises employers to modify work schedules and establish a complete heat illness prevention plan to protect their workers. OSHA's Heat Safety Tool, a mobile app that allows users to calculate the heat index, is also available for employers and workers.
$7M for Susan Harwood safety and health training grants now available
OSHA issoliciting applications under the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program hrough two separate and distinct announcements. A total of $7 million isavailable for nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-basedorganizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/managementassociations and colleges and universities.
"Thesegrants play an important role in ensuring worker safety and health. Byproviding training to employees on their rights, and employers on theirresponsibilities, the Susan Harwood grants are making sure that workplacesafety is the number one priority on any jobsite," said Secretary ofLabor Thomas E. Perez.
The SusanHarwood Training Grant Program supports in-person, hands-on training andeducational programs and materials development for workers and employers insmall businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates;workers who are underserved, limited English proficiency and temporaryworkers. For more information, read the press release.
OSHAApplications for Capacity Building grants must be submitted by Thursday, June26, 2014 and Targeted Topic grants must be submitted by Monday, June 30,2014. More information on the grant program, including a webinar thatoutlines the application process, is available on OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Program Web page. Questionsfrom the public should be directed to Heather Wanderski or Jim Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or bytelephone at 847-759-7700.
US Labor Department files lawsuitagainst Southwestern Bell for retaliating against workers who exercised theirrights under the OSHA law
The U.S.Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Southwestern Bell TelephoneCo. on behalf of four employees who received disciplinary action andunsatisfactory performance appraisals for reporting workplace injuries thatoccurred in Missouri and Kansas in 2011 and 2012. The company alleged thateach employee violated a corporate workplace safety standard; however, OSHA'sinvestigation found that the company’s actions were a result of workers reportingtheir injuries.
"It isagainst the law for employers to discipline employees for reportinginjuries," said Marcia Drumm, acting regional administrator for OSHA inKansas City, Mo. "Southwestern Bell must understand that, bydiscouraging workers from reporting injuries, it increases the likelihood ofmore injured workers in the future. The department will do everything in itspower to prevent this type of retaliation."
Read the news release foradditional details. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutesprotecting employees who report violations of laws in various industries. Formore information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.
West Springfield, Mass., employersued by US Labor Department for firing an employee who filed an OSHAcomplaint
The U.S.Department of Labor has sued Donald Pottern, doing business as CrownFurniture, of West Springfield, Mass., for firing a worker who filed a safetycomplaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The workercontacted OSHA on May 9, 2011, alleging safety and health hazards in thebasement of Crown Furniture including the presence of asbestos, mold androdents. On May 11, Pottern discharged the employee after questioning him asto why he filed the complaint. The worker then filed a discriminationcomplaint with OSHA, which investigated and found merit to thecomplaint.
"Employeeshave a right to file a complaint with OSHA without fear of discharge or otherforms of retaliation from their employer," said Robert Hooper, OSHA'sacting regional administrator for New England. "Such retaliation cancoerce workers into silence, preventing them from reporting or raisingconcerns about conditions that could injure, sicken or even kill them."
The lawsuitseeks a judgment affirming that Pottern discharged the worker in retaliationfor filing an OSHA complaint, payment of more than $20,000 in lost wages plusinterest to the worker, payment of compensatory and/or punitive damages asappropriate and posting of a non-discrimination notice at the workplace. Seethe news release for moreinformation.
June 2-6 National SafetyStand-Down aims to reach more than 25,000 employers and 1 million workers
On June2-6, OSHA will host a National Safety Stand-Down for Fall Prevention inConstruction to raise awareness about the hazards of falls – the leadingcause of death in the construction industry. During this week, employers andworkers are asked to voluntarily stop work to discuss fall prevention,including topics such as safe work on roofs, ladders and scaffolds.
"Almost300 construction workers were killed in falls in 2012. Thousands more wereseriously injured," said Secretary of Labor Tom Perez in a video statement. "Nowis the time to focus on this vital safety issue. The economy is on therebound, housing starts are on the rise, and the summer construction seasonis getting underway."
Participationin the stand-down for safety is open to all employers — including generalindustry. Large and small employers across the nation have committed toparticipate, including U.S. Air Force facilities nationwide. This year'sstand-down expects to reach more than 25,000 employers and one millionworkers. To learn how you can join the June stand-down, visit www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown, or checkout OSHA’s regionalevents page to access the latest information on stand-down eventstaking place across the country.
Little Rock Area Office responds to tornado cleanup workers'needs
Whentornadoes hit Mayflower and Vilonia, Ark., during the last week of April,staff from OSHA's area office in Little Rock moved quickly to the towns’command centers to help recovery workers, employers and the public understandthe hazards they can encounter and necessary steps to stay safe. OSHA staffdelivered disaster relief QuickCardsTM and factsheets on topics such as heat stress and work zone safety in disasterrecovery efforts.
OSHAmaintains a comprehensivewebsite on keeping disaster site workers safe during tornadoand storm cleanup and recovery operations.
Help OSHA evaluate its heat illnessprevention campaign
OSHA is gathering stakeholder inputon the heat illness prevention campaign with a brief survey to evaluate theusefulness of the heat illness prevention campaignwebsite and to identify possible modifications for nextyear. The survey does not collect any personal information from visitors –only opinions and evaluations of the heat illness prevention campaign. It canbe accessed from the heat campaign homepage (clickon "Tell us what you think") or at www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013HeatWebpageSurvey.
Assistant Secretary Michaels urges action to protect communication tower workers
More communication tower workers were killed in 2013 than in the previous two years combined, and four more tower-related deaths have already occurred in 2014. Every one of those deaths was preventable. This disturbing trend appears to be continuing, and actions must be taken to prevent more deaths.
"We are very concerned about this sharp rise," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels in a Feb. 25 message delivered to the National Association of Tower Erectors. "The fatality rate in this industry is extraordinarily high—tower workers are perhaps 25 times more likely to die on the job than the average American worker."
OSHA is using all of its available tools to improve the safety of telecommunications workers, including reaching out to educate industry and workers, providing free small business consultations, and increasing enforcement in this industry.
For more information, see the press release, read the new blog post, view a recording of Dr. Michaels’ address, or read his full remarks.
GEO Group settlement aims to protect correctional workers from violence on the job
The GEO Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., has entered into a corporate-wide settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor that requires the company to implement comprehensive procedures and policies to better safeguard its workers against the hazards of workplace violence in every correctional and adult detention facility that it manages in the nation.
"This corporate-wide settlement agreement will have a far-reaching effect and impact on correctional officers and other staff nationwide," said Teresa A. Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Atlanta. "This agreement is the first of its kind in the corrections industry that addresses the hazards associated with workplace violence."
In June 2012, OSHA cited the GEO Group for workplace safety violations at a prison facility it managed in Meridian, Miss. For more information on the settlement, see thenews release. To learn more about workplace violence prevention, visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page onworkplace violence.
OSHA announces interim final rule, invites comments on procedures for handling retaliation complaints under Food Safety Modernization Act
OSHA recently published an interim final rule establishing procedures and time frames for handling retaliation complaints under the Food Safety Modernization Act. FSMA, signed into law January 2011, provides employees who disclose information about a possible violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with protection against retaliation from businesses engaged in the manufacture, processing, packing, transporting, distribution, reception, holding or importation of food. This interim final rule establishes procedures, burdens of proof, remedies and statutes of limitations similar to other whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA administers.
Individuals may submit comments by April 14, 2014. See the news release for details. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and 21 other statutes. Additional information is available atwww.whistleblowers.gov.
Houston manufacturer cited for eight willful egregious violations after worker severely injured on unguarded machine
Following an incident where a machine operator’s arms were crushed, OSHA has cited Custom Rubber Products LLC with eight willful egregious violations. Proposed penalties for the Houston facility total $560,000.
“Moving machine parts can crush workers or amputate fingers or limbs in an instant,” said Eric Harbin, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Dallas. “Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Employers must ensure that guards are functioning on machines that can cause these injuries, and there is no excuse for failing to provide them.”
Prompted by a complaint, OSHA’s inspection found that the company created a dangerous work environment by failing to protect machine operators and other workers in the machine area from hazards created by rotating parts. During the inspection, OSHA became aware of two other incidents that had previously occurred at the facility involving employees being severely injured while operating similar machinery. See the news releasefor more information.
Innovative concrete drill jig reduces silica exposures
A University of California ergonomics team has designed an innovative concrete drill jig that is proving to be highly effective in limiting worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica, as well reducing fatigue and risk of musculoskeletal injuries. It also increases productivity – a bonus for McCarthy Building Company, Inc., which is using the jig in renovating an historic building in downtown San Francisco. The jig can drive multiple large hammer drills at different angles and heights, and is mounted on a base that allows it to move easily around a construction site. A vacuum collects dust generated by the drill bit.
When a laborer drilled into concrete using a pneumatic rock drill by hand, the team measured silica dust levels that were 14 times higher than the recommended exposure limit set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. But with the jig and dust-capturing device, the exposure level is below the recommended exposure limit. The jig is one of many ways employers can limit worker exposures to silica. For more information on the project, visit the OSHA Website.
Combustible dust, amputation and other hazards at lumber manufacturer in Homerville, Ga. cited by OSHA
OSHA has cited forest products manufacturer Dupont Yard Inc. for 22 safety and health violations following a complaint about hazardous working conditions at the company's Homerville, Ga., facility. Proposed penalties total $279,400. In four previous inspections over the past six years, Dupont Yard has been cited with 39 violations.
"Since 2007, this employer has known about the dangers of a lack of machine guarding and exposure to electric shock, but repeatedly puts workers at risk of serious injury or death," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "Earning a paycheck should not involve being in an unsafe work environment."
OSHA cited the company for willfully failing to implement basic lockout-tagout procedures to prevent amputations and other serious injuries during maintenance. Other willful citations include exposing workers to electrical hazards and to unguarded rotating chains and sprocket wheels. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Read the news release for more information on the citations issued by OSHA.
Shippensburg, Pa. foundry cited for repeat safety violations; fines total $163,240
Domestic Casting Co. LLC has been cited by OSHA for 26 alleged safety violations found at its Shippensburg, Pa. foundry. OSHA initiated an inspection in August 2013 in response to a complaint. The company faces $163,240 in proposed penalties.
"Compromising worker safety will not be tolerated. Domestic Casting continues to put its workers at risk of serious injury or possible death by not addressing and correcting these hazards," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office. "Employers that fail to uphold their responsibility to protect workers and provide a safe and healthful workplace will be held accountable."
Repeat violations by the employer include failing to guard open-sided floors and platforms, failing to enclose sprocket wheels and chains, and exposing workers to electrical hazards. The company was cited for similar violations in 2011 and 2013. In addition, serious citations were issued for exposing workers to struck-by, fall, amputation, electrical, tripping and other hazards. For more details and to read the citations, view the press release.
OSHA issues 2014 inspection plan to reduce injuries and illnesses at high-hazard workplaces
OSHA has issued its annual inspection plan under the Site-Specific Targeting 2014 program. The plan directs enforcement resources to workplaces with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses. The SST plan is based on data collected from a survey of 80,000 establishments in high-hazard industries.
The SST program is one of OSHA’s main programmed inspection plans for high-hazard, non-construction workplaces with 20 or more workers. OSHA also implements 13National Emphasis Programs and approximately 140 Regional and Local Emphasis Programs that intensify inspections of hazards or industries such as lead, silica, shipbreaking, trenching/excavations and process safety management. See the news release for more information.
Open for comment: Proposed rules on crystalline silica, workplace injury and illness tracking, and request for information on process safety management
Public hearings on OSHA’s proposed silica rule are scheduled to begin March 18, 2014, at the Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. The deadline for requests to participate was Dec. 12, 2013. However, members of the public are welcome to attend and listen to testimony from OSHA, its expert witnesses and other interested parties. Those members of the public who filed a timely written notice of intention to appear can also ask questions of agency officials and other witnesses during the hearing. For additional information on the proposed rule, visit www.osha.gov/silica.
In addition, the comment period on OSHA’s proposed rule to improve workplace safety and health through improved tracking of occupational injuries and illness will be closing March 10, 2014. The proposed rule would amend OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep. It was originally scheduled to close March 8. However, this date falls on a Saturday. The agency will accept comments submitted March 10 as timely. Comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for more details.
Finally, OSHA also has a request for information seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard and related standards, as well as other policy options to prevent major chemical incidents. The public will have until March 10, 2014 to submit written comments. The RFI is in response to Executive Order 13650, which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas, tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion. For more information, visit the Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security Web page.
Chemical safety public listening sessions continue to encourage input from stakeholders
OSHA recently co-chaired several listening sessions regarding Executive Order 13650 on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab chaired a session in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Feb. 19 along with Area Director Dorina Folse. On Feb. 27, New York Area Director Bob Kulick and Director of OSHA’s Office of Engineering Safety Lisa Long attended another listening session in Newark, NJ, marking the 14th session of the series. Frequent topics have included safer processes, worker/union participation and improved emergency response.
Signed on August 1, 2013 by President Obama, Executive Order 13650 is a multi-agency initiative to improve chemical safety and storage across the country. The Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies have joined forces to improve agency coordination, modernize policies and standards and identify best practices. The series of public listening sessions encourage input from stakeholders to reduce safety and security risks in the production and storage of potentially harmful chemicals. For more information on the executive order and upcoming opportunities to participate, visit the OSHA website.
Employers reminded to post OSHA 300A injury/illness summaries through April 30
OSHA is reminding covered employers to post OSHA's Form 300A, which summarizes the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2013 and were logged on OSHA's Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. The summary must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2014, and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain industries are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements. A complete list of exempt industries in the retail, services, finance, insurance and real estate sectors can be found at http://s.dol.gov/YP.
OSHA teams with local Wisconsin organizations to hold fall protection classes in Spanish
Midwest Certified Training and the Latino Academy of Workforce Development are now offering classes in Spanish which address fall protection safety. Construction contractors, workers, firms who hire roofers and field employees are all encouraged to attend the classes to understand fall hazards in construction as well as the applicable OSHA standards.
Spanish-language classes offer training on roof work safety, ladder safety and personal fall arrest systems, in support of OSHA’s initiative to ensure that workers receive safety training in a language and vocabulary that they understand. Classes are held the second Friday of every month in Madison, Wisconsin. Those interested in attending can register by calling 608-310-4573. To learn more about preventing fatal falls in construction, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
New educational resources: Safe patient handling in nursing homes and anti-retaliation rights under the Food Safety Modernization Act
OSHA has developed Safe Patient Handling (PDF*), a new brochure that addresses the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders among nursing home and residential care workers and explains the benefits of implementing safe patient handling programs. For more information about safe patient handling and on protecting healthcare workers, visit OSHA’s Healthcare Web page.
In addition, a new Spanish-language Whistleblower Fact Sheet (PDF*) is available, which details the rights of whistleblowers under the Food Safety Modernization Act. Visit www.whistleblowers.gov for additional fact sheets in English and Spanish.
OSHA and NOAA partner for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week
OSHA and the National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration have joined forces for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, to address the unique hazards that severe weather poses for workers and employers.
OSHA and NOAA encourage employers to stay aware of weather forecasts, train workers on workplace severe weather plans, and keep emergency supplies, including a battery-operated weather radio, on hand to be better prepared when severe weather strikes. Employers must also ensure that workers involved in response and recovery are protected from potential safety and health hazards.
OSHA provides resources on workplace preparedness and response for severe weather emergencies including tornadoes, floods, and winter weather, among others. Follow all of the week’s activities on NOAA’s Web page and visit OSHA’s Tornado Preparedness and Response page for more information on protecting workers from severe weather events.
Help OSHA evaluate its heat illness prevention campaign
OSHA is gathering stakeholder input on the heat illness prevention campaign with a brief survey to evaluate the usefulness of theheat illness prevention campaign website and to identify possible modifications for next year. The survey does not collect any personal information from visitors – only opinions and evaluations of the heat illness prevention campaign. It can be accessed from the heat campaign homepage (click on "Tell us what you think") or at www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013HeatWebpageSurvey.
Assistant Secretary Michaels addresses oil and gas stakeholders
On Dec. 3, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels addressed attendees of the 2013 Oil & Gas Environmental Conference in Dallas, hosted by the University of Texas at Arlington. Michaels applauded the success of OSHA's collaboration with the National STEPS Network on a series of voluntary safety stand-downs at oil and gas worksites in Oklahoma, Montana, North Dakota and Texas. The assistant secretary also encouraged participation in the current notices of proposed rulemaking for respirable silica and for recordkeeping, as well as OSHA's recent request for information regarding possible updates to process safety management regulations. The primary goal of the OGEC conference is to achieve better environmental performance and regulatory compliance in the oil and gas industry through the exchange of new ideas and concepts. To learn more about the annual meeting, visit the 2013 conference Web page.
More than $460,000 in fines proposed against Long Island, NY, contractor for fall and scaffolding hazards
Painting & Decorating Inc. was cited by OSHA for repeat fall and scaffolding hazards following an inspection of a work site in Manhasset, N.Y. The painting and stucco contractor has a long history of fall protection and scaffold safety violations and now faces an additional $460,350 in OSHA fines. OSHA's Long Island Area Office opened an inspection at the work site on March 31 under its local emphasis program aimed at preventing falls in the construction industry. The inspection identified that the employer had failed to protect workers from numerous fall and scaffolding hazards, many of which were similar to those cited during previous OSHA inspections of five other Painting & Decorating work sites during the past several years. Hazards included not having the scaffold inspected for defects by a competent person during erection and before workers began work on the scaffold, not restraining the scaffold against tipping, and a lack of protective helmets. Read the news release for a full list of citations. To learn about OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Fatal Falls in Construction, visit the fall prevention Web page.
Tim Graboski Roofing of Delray Beach, Fla., cited for violations following worker electrocution
OSHA has cited Tim Graboski Roofing Inc. of Delray Beach for four safety violations, including two willful, following the death of a worker. The OSHA citation alleges that on June 27, a worker was electrocuted at a residential jobsite in Boca Raton when his employer directed him to reposition a metal extension ladder in close proximity to overhead electrical power lines that had not been de-energized, grounded or guarded. Later, on July 23, OSHA inspectors passing by a residential work site in Cooper City observed workers exposed to fall hazards, prompting a second inspection. Citations were issued to the employer for hazards including exposing workers to electrocution and falls hazards of approximately 30 feet. Citations carry $154,000 in proposed penalties. Read the news release for the full list of citations and a link to OSHA's fall prevention Web page.
Williams Olefins LLC cited for process safety violations after explosion kills 2 workers and injures 80
Williams Olefins LLC in Geismar, La., was cited for six process safety management standard violations, including one willful, after an explosion in June killed two workers and injured 80 people. Process safety management encompasses a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to address hazards proactively that are associated with processes and equipment that use large amounts of hazardous chemicals, in this case, propylene. "Williams Olefins violated safety and health standards which, when followed, can protect workers from hazardous chemicals," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge. "It is the employer's responsibility to find and fix workplace safety violations and to ensure the safety of its workers. Failing to do so cost two workers their lives." The employer was cited with a willful violation for failing to develop clear, written procedures for how to change and put idle pressure vessels into service. Proposed penalties total $99,000. For additional details on the case, view the news release. To learn more about President Obama's executive order to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities, visit OSHA's Executive Order 13650 Web page.
T.O. Haas Tire & Auto works with free On-site Consultation Program to improve worker safety at 26 locations in three states
After a worker was fatally injured in 2006 when a tire exploded during mounting, T.O. Haas Tire & Auto reached out to OSHA's free On-site Consultation Program, determined to completely revamp its injury and illness prevention program for all 26 locations in Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. OSHA's consultants identified a variety of hazards common among many of the T.O. Haas worksites. In turn the company established safety committees and instituted monthly safety meetings to provide training and review safety policies and procedures. The T.O. Haas safety initiative has since resulted in thousands of dollars in savings, as well as significantly reduced injury rates. See the full story on T.O. Hass' success for details.
On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. Visit OSHA's On-site Consultation page for more details.
Product safety recalls
Department of Labor brings court cases against employers for violating workers' 11(c) whistleblower rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act
An eight-member jury in U.S. district court determined that Renaissance Arts and Education Inc., doing business as Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Fla., and its principal, Dr. Bill Jones, violated whistleblower protection provisions of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when the charter school fired a worker for reporting concerns regarding electrical hazards in the school's theater. The jury ordered the school and Dr. Jones to pay the worker $175,000 in back pay and damages.
The Department of Labor has also filed a complaint in a Pennsylvania federal district court against McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises — a company that provides intermodal trans-loading and storage services for steel products, scrap, dry bulk and other commodities — for firing a worker who reported safety concerns to OSHA. The complaint seeks reinstatement and compensatory damages on behalf of the whistleblower.
Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits employers from discharging or in any manner retaliating or discriminating against any worker for exercising their rights under the Act. These rights include filing an OSHA complaint, participating in an inspection, raising a safety and health issue with the employer or the government, or any other right afforded by the OSHA law. Of the whistleblower complaints that OSHA receives every year, 11c complaints comprise the majority. For more information on 11c and the 21 other whistleblower statutes under OSHA’s jurisdiction, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.
Study links silica exposure with significant increase in lung cancer risk
A newly published study of a large population of Chinese tin and pottery workers has found that exposure to airborne silica dust is associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing lung cancer. The study, printed in the American Journal of Epidemiology, measured cumulative silica exposure in a group of more than 30,000 workers over a 44-year period. These findings, which confirm that silica is a human carcinogen, are consistent with the preliminary risk assessment in OSHA's new proposed rule to protect workers from occupational exposure to crystalline silica, and have important implications for public health. Read more about the AJOE study here.
OSHA invites and strongly encourages the public to participate in the process of developing a final silica rule through written comments and participation in public hearings. To read the notice of proposed rulemaking, visit https://federalregister.gov/a/2013-20997. Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets, and procedures for submitting written comments and participating in public hearings is available at www.osha.gov/silica.
Contractors in Massachusetts and New York fined for failing to protect workers from falls and other hazards
In two separate cases, OSHA has issued citations to construction contractors for exposing workers to fatal fall hazards. Twin Pines Construction Inc., an Everett, Mass.-based wood framing contractor faces $336,200 in proposed fines for violations at worksites in Plymouth and Reading, Mass. The Plymouth inspection was initiated March 15 after a worker suffered broken ribs and leg injuries when an unbraced wooden roof truss system collapsed around him at a worksite. The Reading inspection was opened the same day after OSHA received a complaint about possible safety hazards at a jobsite. OSHA found that employees were exposed to falls, struck-by and impalement hazards. Read the news release for more information.
In addition, OSHA has proposed $272,720 in fines against four New York contractors for safety hazards identified during the construction of a midtown Manhattan hotel. Mamaroneck-based Flintlock Construction Services LLC, the general contractor on the project, received the largest penalties of $249,920 for violating OSHA's fall protection and scaffolding standards after exposing workers to potentially fatal falls of up to 26 feet while on scaffolding. V&P Altitude Corp. in Brooklyn, SMK Associates in Astoria and Maspeth Steel Fabricators in Maspeth also received citations and fines for violations including lack of fall protection and scaffolding, electrical and personal protective equipment violations. See the news release for more details and complete citations.
Four employers cited in crane collapse that fatally injured 1 worker and hurt 8 others in Russellville, Ark.
OSHA has cited Precision Surveillance Corp., Bigge Crane and Rigging Co., Siemens Power Generation Inc. and Entergy Operations Inc. for 30 safety violations after one Precision Surveillance worker was fatally injured when a crane collapsed at the Arkansas Nuclear One Power Plant in March. Eight other workers were hurt. Precision Surveillance Corp., in East Chicago, Ind., is being cited for one serious violation for failing to provide an effective communication system to alert the operator or signalman through an emergency stop signal. Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. in San Leandro, Calif., Siemens Power Generation Inc. in Orlando, Fla., and Entergy Operations Inc. in Russellville are being cited for failing to comply with crane-related hazards. Proposed penalties for all violations total $175,000. To learn more about the details of the case and read the citations, view the press release.
Safety pays, but falls cost: Plan, provide, and train to stop fatal falls in construction
In an article in the Fall 2013 issue of Elevating Safety (PDF*), OSHA Director of Construction Jim Maddux discusses the high cost of fatal falls in construction, which are the leading cause of death in the industry. Worker injuries and deaths don’t just hurt families and communities, he explains, they also take a great toll on our economy. To prevent falls, employers need to plan ahead to get the job done safely, provide the right equipment, and train everyone to use their equipment safely. To order free educational and training resources, including OSHA's new bilingual ladder safety booklet (PDF*), visit our Publications page or call the Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.
Hawaii increases safety and health enforcement efforts, resumes partial responsibility for protecting workers
The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division is reassuming responsibility for regulating Hawaii's manufacturing industries, following improvements in Hawaii's workplace safety and health program. OSHA and HIOSH have shared regulatory responsibility for Hawaii since last September, per an agreement designed to jointly rebuild and strengthen the safety and health regulatory environment in the state.
"I am pleased to report substantial improvements in HIOSH's enforcement-related statistics in construction, as well as overall inspection activities for Hawaii," said Dorothy Dougherty, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Mahalo (Thank you) Governor Abercrombie, Director Takamine, and to the staff of HIOSH for your efforts and continued cooperation in making Hawaii a safe and health place to work." Read additional details in the press release (PDF*).
OSHA signs new alliances to protect vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries
OSHA has established two new alliances to protect oil and gas workers – with the Buckeye Service, Transmission, Exploration and Production Safety Network in Ohio and with the Association of Energy Service Companies in Dallas. The alliances will work to provide local employers and workers with guidance and training resources to address hazards associated with oil and gas operations.
OSHA also has renewed two alliances, with T&T Staff Management Inc. of El Paso, Texas, and with the National Council of La Raza to reach out to temporary, low-wage, limited English proficiency and other vulnerable workers in construction and general industries. Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.
Connecticut and Oregon aim to protect young workers from jobsite hazards
Workers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to be injured on the job as older workers and are often unaware of their workplace rights.
In Connecticut, federal and state-run OSHA joined a coalition that has launched a new website on the safety and health of young workers, which consolidates specific resources related to laws and regulations, training programs, educational materials, statistical data and local news and events associated with hiring young workers. Federal OSHA also has a Young Workers Web page with resources for young workers, employers, parents and educators.
In addition, Oregon OSHA's new video series uses humor and song to educate young workers about workplace hazards. The videos, available on YouTube, cover general awareness for teens about speaking up on the job, safe lifting, and ladder and restaurant safety. See the news release for more information.
Certificate program to increase safety and health training for public sector employees
OSHA has launched a new certificate program providing state and local government employees with occupational safety and health training. The program, Public Sector Safety & Health Fundamentals, will be administered by authorized OSHA Training Institute Education Centers as a proactive measure to protect public sector employees nationwide. Students can choose from topics such as occupational safety and health standards for the construction or general industries, safety and health management, accident investigation, fall hazard awareness and recordkeeping. To earn a certificate, participants must complete a minimum of seven courses and 68 contact hours. Students can use OSHA's Searchable Course Schedule to find training courses for the certificate program. See the news release for more information.
Check out OSHA resources on grain handling, temporary workers and more
In a new OSHA blog, Peoria, Ill. Area Director Tom Bielema explains how quickly a worker in a silo or grain storage bin can become engulfed and trapped in flowing grain. The blog summarizes the hazards and offers resources to help employers keep workers safe.
Additional OSHA resources recently made available include new Web pages on workplace hazards faced by temporary workers and women in construction, a chemical industry advisory on the Safe Storage, Handling, and Management of Ammonium Nitrate (PDF*), a Fatal Facts: Cotton Press fact sheet (PDF*), a handy QuickCard on Precautions for Firefighters to Prevent Dust Explosions (PDF*), and a brief for physicians on Medical Evaluation of Renal Effects of Cadmium Exposure (PDF*).
Product safety recalls
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..Last Updated on 10/03/14