|February 15, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 4|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
In addition to providing free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, OSHA's On-site Consultation Program helped fund a new state-of-the-art SafetyWorks! Safety Training Institute in Augusta, Maine. The funding assistance from OSHA allowed Maine's On-site Consultation Program, SafetyWorks!, to build the new Institute.
SafetyWorks! is an outreach program designed to reduce job-related injuries, illnesses and deaths and provide free training and consultation to Maine employers. The new SafetyWorks! Institute offers traditional classrooms as well as innovative hands-on training equipment, including a full-size fork lift, a confined space simulator and rescue station, an ergonomics station, an electrical panel and a scaffolding station. For more information see the news release.
Like Maine's program, OSHA's On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management systems. To request an on-site consultation, call 1-800-321-OSHA  or visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/smallbusiness/consult.html.
OSHA will extend for six months its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction. The temporary enforcement measures, extended through September 15, 2012, include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to assure consistency and increased outreach. Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction.
Over the past year, OSHA has worked closely with the industry, conducting over 1,000 outreach sessions nationwide to assist employers in complying with the new directive. OSHA will continue to work with employers to ensure a clear understanding of, and to facilitate compliance with, the new policy.
OSHA's Web page also has a wide variety of educational and training materials to assist employers with compliance, including multiple easy-to-read fact sheets, PowerPoint and slide presentations, as well as other educational materials. To access these materials, visit OSHA's Fall Protection in Residential Construction page.
OSHA has cited Zaloudek Grain Co. with four serious safety violations following an incident involving two 17-year-olds in August 2011. Both suffered leg amputations when they became caught in an inadequately guarded screw auger while cleaning out a grain flat storage structure at the company's facility in Kremlin. OSHA investigators found serious violations including failures to affix or secure the machine guard over the moving screw auger, provide training for workers assigned to enter grain structures, ensure the storage structure's exit was free and unobstructed, and provide exit signs from the storage structure. Proposed penalties total $21,500. See the news release for more information.
In September, OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office opened a separate, comprehensive safety inspection of the Kremlin facility under the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities that uncovered five additional serious violations. Citations, with fines totaling $12,500, were issued on Dec. 20 and contested by the employer.
OSHA has fined grain operators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Nebraska following preventable fatalities and injuries in grain storage bins. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter to 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions.
OSHA cited Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for a total of 24 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its supercenter store No. 2859 in Rochester. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer faces a total of $365,500 in proposed fines following inspections conducted by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office initiated in response to a complaint.
The Rochester inspections led OSHA to identify fall hazards, obstructed exit routes, an absence of lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources that would allow workers to safely perform maintenance on a compactor, an unguarded grinder, no training for workers using personal protective equipment, a lack of eye and face protection, and a lack of information and training on hazardous chemicals in the workplace. These conditions resulted in citations for 10 repeat violations with $288,000 in fines. See the news release for more information.
Indiana OSHA has cited three organizations involved in the Indiana State Fair accident on August 13, 2011 that resulted in fatal injuries of two workers. Fifty-eight people were injured and 7 were killed when a gust of wind toppled stage equipment just before the band Sugarland was scheduled to perform.
IOSHA cited the Indiana State Fair Commission with one serious violation for failure to conduct a life safety evaluation and cited Local 30 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for 3 serious violations. Violations included failure to consider soil conditions when placing cable anchor points for the grandstand stage; failure to provide fall protection for workers 4 feet or more above ground level; and, failure to conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment of the worksite to determine the personal protective equipment required while erecting the load bearing roof and the grandstand.
IOSHA also cited Mid-America Sound Corporation for 3 knowing violations, including failure to develop and implement an Operations Management Plan, failure to develop a risk assessment plan, failure to maintain and use current engineering calculations and documentation, and failure to provide appropriate, qualified supervision. See the news release* for more information.
OSHA proposed a total of $169,000 in fines against contractor Penney Construction Co. LLC, in Hartford, Conn., chiefly for exposing its workers to cave-in hazards while repairing a sewer line in a 10-foot-deep trench. An inspection by OSHA's Hartford Area Office found that not only did the trench lack any protection to prevent the walls from collapsing onto workers, the cave-in hazard was intensified by the presence of an unsupported sidewalk and catch basin overhanging the trench. OSHA standards require that trenches or excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse through shoring, sloping of the soil or use of a protective trench box. Even after being informed that the conditions posed an imminent danger, the employer continued to send workers into the trench. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards as well as safe working procedures is available on the OSHA Web site.
OSHA has placed Penney Construction in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in June 2010, the program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. See the news release for more information.
OSHA has cited Beasley Forest Products Inc. for 21 safety and health violations at its Sandersville hardwood sawmill production facility. OSHA opened an inspection in October after receiving a complaint. Proposed penalties total $78,000.
Twelve serious safety violations involve failing to develop specific lockout/tagout procedures for the energy sources of equipment, properly use compressed air for cleaning, install guardrails on walkways to prevent workers from falling 5-18 feet, provide standard handrails on stairways, provide signage prohibiting unauthorized foot or vehicle traffic where logs were being loaded and unloaded, provide machine guards, repair a damaged ladder, allow access to the circuit breaker box, and install covers on electrical boxes for the sorter control cab and the sorter system.
Four serious health violations include failing to establish and implement a hazard communication program for workers exposed to combustible dust, prevent the accumulation of combustible dust, implement a hearing conservation program, and properly store oxygen and acetylene cylinders. See the news release for more information.
In two recent meetings, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis pledged to collaborate on international worker rights issues. At a Feb. 1 meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis met with Colombia Minister of Labor Rafael Pardo to discuss Colombia's recent achievements in protecting workers' rights, address challenges that remain, and award a grant of $2 million to the International Labour Organization (ILO) to develop a robust presence in Colombia.
The following day, Secretary Solis and Minister of Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge of the Republic of India signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage dialogue and cooperation between the United States and India on labor and employment issues. The memorandum will enable the Labor Department to begin dialogue with its counterpart in India occupation safety and health issues as well as other labor topics, with their counterparts in India.
The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (NM OSHA) and the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA) signed an agreement Jan. 25 that establishes an alliance to foster safer and more healthful New Mexico workplaces. As part of the Alliance Agreement, a team of representatives from both organizations will meet quarterly to develop a plan of action, determine working procedures, and identify roles and responsibilities of the participants. The two organizations will also work together during state safety conferences and encourage participation from industry representatives through development of materials, training programs, workshops, seminars, and lectures. The Alliance will remain in effect for two years. See the news release* for more information.
A new OSHA fact sheet, Eye Protection against Radiant Energy during Welding and Cutting in Shipyard Employment,* is intended to help prevent worker eye injuries in the maritime industry. Electromagnetic energy given off by an arc or flame, commonly referred to as radiant energy or light radiation, can injure workers' eyes. For protection from radiant energy, employers must ensure that workers use the necessary personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, goggles, welding helmets or welding face shields. This equipment must have filter lenses with a shade number that provides the appropriate level of protection. A shade number indicates the intensity of light radiation that is allowed to pass through a filter lens to one's eyes. The higher the shade number, the darker the filter and the less light radiation that will pass through the lens. Tables in the fact sheet provide the proper shade numbers to be used under various conditions when performing welding operations including gas and metal arc welding and oxygen cutting.
A new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found a greater-than-expected risk of miscarriages among nurses exposed to hazardous substances at work. Occupational exposure to chemotherapy drugs and disinfectants were associated with increased risk of miscarriage. The published article is available in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
More workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other. Health care workers face a number of serious safety and health hazards, including bloodborne pathogens, chemicals, gases, lifting and repetitive tasks, workplace violence, radioactive materials, and x-rays. For more information, visit OSHA's Safety and Health topics page about healthcare facilities.
In a webinar today, February 15, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will address the use of intervention evaluation research to address the leading causes of workers' compensation among health care workers.
Dr. Jim Collins, Associate Director for Science for the NIOSH Division of Safety Research will discuss how hazards in healthcare facilities can be understood by evaluating the injury risks associated with patient lifting, slips, trips, and falls. Webinar participants will learn "best practices" for safety and health and develop a plan for reducing risks at their own facilities.
The webcast, available here, will run from 12-1pm EST.
A new OSHA hazard alert warns workers of falls and other hazards that every year result in deaths and serious injuries during snow or ice removal from rooftops and elevated surfaces. Workers are at risk for falling off roof edges, through skylights, and from ladders and aerial lifts. Workers may also be injured or killed by a roof collapse. The alert provides methods for preventing these hazards, such as using snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs, evaluating the maximum weight a roof or structure can bear, requiring that workers use fall protection equipment, and ensuring that workers use ladders and aerial lifts safely. Other hazards include injuries associated with the use of snow blowers and other mechanized equipment, entrapment and suffocation under falling snow drifts or snow piles, shock/electrocution hazards from contacting power lines or damaged extension cords, frostbite or hypothermia from cold and windy conditions and musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion.
OSHA also recently created a Winter Storms Web page to provide information on protecting workers from hazards during winter storm response and recovery operations.
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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