Ergonomics Committee Schedules First Meeting in Washington
OSHA Establishes Teen Worker Page on Website
Alliance Formed with Dow Chemical
Commercial Diving Proposal, Standards Improvement Project Extension
OSHA Establishes Partnership with Koch Industries
Injury and Illness Rates Plummet at West Virginia Health Care Center
Training Tool Established for Shipyard Work
Voluntary Protection Program Activity
New Fact Sheet for High-Rise Building Evacuations, Revised Publications
On the Road with the OSHA Administrator
OSHA's plan to reduce ergonomic injuries and illnesses took another step forward with the announcement this month of the inaugural meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE). Scheduled for Jan. 22 in Washington, the committee's 15 members will provide the agency with advice on what information employers and employees need to reduce ergonomics-related injuries in their workplaces. NACE is chartered initially for two years and will meet two to four times annually.
A new safety and health page dedicated to Teen Worker Safety is up and running on OSHA's website. The page provides information not only to teens, but also to their parents, employers and educators. Detailed discussions of teen responsibilities and rights at work are included. The page also features some frequently asked questions regarding teen employment, and provides quick links to other resources that address the topic of young workers.
Focusing on safety management of hazardous chemicals and reducing ergonomic injuries, OSHA joined with the Dow Chemical Company Jan. 13 in an Alliance to promote worker safety and health. OSHA and Dow will work together to provide technical knowledge and guidance on process safety management, reduce exposure to musculoskeletal hazards, and improve safety and health programs in the workplace. Take a look at OSHA's newly established web page, "OSHA Alliance Program." You'll find a list of all Alliances as well as general information on the agency's newest cooperative program.
OSHA is proposing to revise its commercial diving standard to allow recreational diving instructors and diving guides to use a mixed-gas diving technique as an alternative to an on-site decompression chamber. The revision would incorporate the terms and conditions of a variance granted to a Florida diving company in 1999. The agency is also extending until Jan. 20 the comment period on the second phase of its standards improvement project. That project addresses 40 provisions in 23 health standards for general industry, maritime and construction that are inconsistent, duplicative, or outdated.
Koch Industries, Inc. joined with OSHA Jan. 14 in a strategic partnership to strengthen safety and health protections for workers at eight of the company's affiliates throughout the country. Eighteen individual worksites are involved in the pilot program that will focus on expanding Koch's safety and health management system at the pilot worksites, and reducing ergonomic-related injuries and illnesses.
An intermediate care nursing facility in Sutton, WV has shown that implementing viable safety and health controls can result in dramatic reductions in injury and illness rates. Braxton Health Care Center's lost workday injury and illness rates were as high as 24 in 1997, attributed mainly to injuries from resident lifting and repositioning. An OSHA inspection found numerous lifting devices in place; but, no procedures or policies requiring employees to use them. OSHA issued the center an ergonomic hazard alert letter, recommending the mandatory use of lifting devices. Management immediately implemented those controls. A November 2001 OSHA inspection (under the nursing home initiative) found the facility's rates had declined steadily since 1999 to a low of 5.5 in 2001. Employees have suffered no similar injuries for the entire year of 2002.
The injury-accident rate for shipyard workers is more than twice that of construction and general industry. To help curb the high injuries and illnesses suffered by those workers, OSHA launched a Shipyard Employment electronic training tool earlier this month that will focus on a variety of operations in the industry. The eTool addresses the entire shipyard standard and is first focusing on Ship Repair activities. Soon to be added to the eTool will be information relative to Shipbreaking, Ship Building, and Support Operations. OSHA's eTools are stand-alone interactive, web-based training tools on safety and health topics.
The following companies were approved recently for new or continued participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP): CF Industries, Seneca Terminal, Seneca, IL (New Star); Boise Florien Plywood Plant, Florien, LA (New Star); Johnson Engineering @ NASA Sonny Carter Training Facility, Houston, TX (New Star); CF Industries, Peru Terminal, Peru, IL (Cont. Star); PPL Montour, LLC Steam Electric Station, Washingtonville, PA (New Star); Roper Corporation, Lafayette Plant, Lafayette, GA (New Star); Int'l Paper, Alabama SuperTree Nursery, Selma, AL (Cont. Star); Applied Materials, Harris Branch, Austin, TX (New Star); Applied Materials, Wall Street Facility, Austin, TX (New Star); General Electric, Albany Service Center, Albany, NY (New Star); Monsanto, Agricultural Sector, Mason City, IL (New Star);
and Applied Materials-Spectrum Drive Facility, Austin, TX (New Star).
Evacuating High-Rise Buildings is the latest in a series of informative fact sheets OSHA is producing or revising for employers and workers. This new fact sheet focuses on actions employers should take when an emergency occurs and what they can do to ensure safe evacuations. It also provides tips to workers on actions they should take during an emergency, or if they find themselves trapped. OSHA also recently revised two publications: Asbestos Standard for the Construction Industry and Crane or Derrick Suspended Personnel Platforms.
OSHA Administrator John Henshaw will travel to San Diego on Jan. 16 to speak with American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) membership at the annual meeting of the Association's Yuma Pacific Southwest Section. He will also speak at the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association's signing of a strategic partnership, Jan. 17. Henshaw will visit OSHA's new Training and Education headquarters in Arlington Heights, IL on Jan. 23, and then travel the following day to Boca Raton, FL to talk about alliances during the council meeting of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Seattle will be his destination on Jan. 27-28 when he attends the winter meeting of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association. Finally, Henshaw will speak at the AIHA Board meeting in Fairfax, VA on Jan. 29.
Editor: Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, 202-693-1999