Workplace Injury/Illness Rates Continue to Decline
Labor Secretary Announces New NACOSH Members
OSHA and FEMA Sponsor Summit on Personnel Safety Issues
UN Adopts Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Classification
Recordkeeping Forms to Include Hearing Loss; MSD Decisions Delayed
FACOSH to Meet January 8
New Online Tool Available for Controlling Hazards in the Maritime Industry
Springfield, MA, Area Office Sponsors Small Business Construction Safety Forum
OSHA Announces Construction Partnerships in Texas, Virgin Islands
Web-based Training Tools Established for Legionnaires' disease, Lead Smelter
Fact Sheets on Farm Safety, Fire Safety, Variances, Rights of Trucking Employees
On the Road with the OSHA Administrator
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Dec. 19 that the number of injuries and illnesses in private industry workplaces in 2001 continued to edge down. The 2001 rate of 5.7 injury and illness cases per 100 full-time workers reflected not only an eight percent drop in cases from 2000 but also the lowest rates since BLS began reporting the information in the early 1970s. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said the announcement was "good news for America's workers, their families, and their employers," but more needs to be done. "As we approach the coming year," Chao said, "we are renewing our commitment to reducing workplace injuries and illnesses even further."
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced new membership of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, Dec. 31. Secretary Chao appointed new members representing labor, management, safety, and the public, and appointed four new members designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Members of the 12-person committee are chosen on the basis of their knowledge and experience in occupational safety and health and advise both the Labor and HHS Secretaries on occupational safety and health programs.
Three panels of representatives from federal and state agencies and associations joined with OSHA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency at a summit on Dec. 17 to discuss personal protective equipment (PPE) related issues for federal workers involved in emergency responses to terrorist acts and/or weapons of mass destruction. According to OSHA Administrator John Henshaw, the summit helped clarify policy and technical issues related to PPE and ultimately will "help us move toward a greater level of preparedness for the future."
A United Nations' committee adopted a globally harmonized system (GHS) for hazard classification and labeling of chemicals at a meeting in Geneva last month. The GHS recommends harmonized criteria to define health, physical and environmental hazards, as well as information to be included on labels and material safety data sheets. OSHA and other U.S. agencies have actively participated in development of the GHS. Decisions regarding implementation will be made after all participating agencies have an opportunity to review the completed system.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, employers will be required to check a hearing loss column to record work-related cases under the new recordkeeping standard, OSHA announced last month. The agency will also postpone until then the effective date of three provisions of the standard, including the definition of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), consideration of MSDs as privacy concern cases, and requirements to check an MSD column on the OSHA log.
The Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) will meet Jan. 8 in Washington. The 16-person council advises OSHA on issues concerning the safety and health of federal employees. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 9 a.m. in Room N-3437 at the Labor Department Building, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.
Employers and workers in the maritime cargo handling industry now have more tools to help them recognize and control hazards commonly experienced in longshoring and marine terminal operations. OSHA has created hazard and abatement summaries that are comprised of 37 separate guide sheets that address the most frequent sources of fatalities in the industry. Each guide sheet contains a hazard summary describing the circumstances that may have contributed to the hazards and how the specific accident could have been prevented.
Small businesses in western and central Massachusetts are invited to attend a safety forum on Jan. 16 to learn about identifying and eliminating construction safety hazards. Hosted by OSHA's area office in Springfield, MA, the forum will be held at the Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee beginning at 7 a.m. OSHA and private sector experts will provide detailed safety and compliance information on cranes, powered industrial trucks, ladders, scaffolds, and slings. To register, call the Safety Council of Western New England at (413) 783-1632. For more information, call
the OSHA office in Springfield at (413) 785-0123.
Construction workers in El Paso, TX, and in the Virgin Islands will reap the benefits of partnerships inked recently to protect their safety and health. The El Paso area office signed a three-year partnership with V&R Drywall, Inc., a predominantly Hispanic construction company of 83 workers, to increase training and enhance safety and health programs. OSHA's Puerto Rico area office joined with Triangle Construction and Maintenance, Inc., Hovensa, LLC oil refinery, and Our Virgin Islands Labor Union, to reduce injury and illness rates. The Virgin Islands Department of Labor/Division of Occupational Safety and Health, is also participating in the partnership.
Two new electronic tools were recently launched to help reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. The Legionnaires' disease eTool will help industrial hygienists assess worksites for potential exposure to the disease. It includes information on disease recognition and controlling strategies. An eTool was also developed to help reduce lead exposure to employees in Secondary Lead Smelter plants. It focuses on specific operations including raw materials processing, smelting, refining and casting, environmental controls, and maintenance. OSHA's eTools are stand-alone interactive, web-based training tools on safety and health topics.
OSHA recently updated four fact sheets on various safety and health issues. Farm Safety provides recommendations on improving safety on farms by increasing awareness of safety hazards. Fire Safety discusses employer requirements for protecting workers against fire hazards. The Variance fact sheet combines two previous publications and provides general information on the topic and application instructions. Finally, workers in the trucking industry can obtain important information on their rights if they feel they've been discharged or discriminated against for involvement in protected safety activities.
Ergonomics is the topic of discussion for Assistant Secretary John Henshaw on Jan. 9 in Albuquerque when he addresses about 200 safety and health professionals of the New Mexico Association of Occupational Health Nurses. He's also scheduled to visit Wichita, KS on Jan. 14 to sign a strategic partnership with Koch Industries to improve worker safety and health. Koch employs more than 20,000 workers in a variety of industries including petroleum, natural gas, plastics and fibers, ranching, and chemical technology equipment.
Editor: Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, 202-693-1999