Ergonomics Guidelines for Nursing Home Industry Announced
Labor Secretary Announces Enhanced Enforcement Program
New Alliances with Orthopaedic Surgeons Academy and Int'l Retail Association
Crystalline Silica Health Hazard Cards Published
OSHA's Grain Handling Standard Helping to Save Lives
Small Business Safety and Health Forum in Illinois
OSHA's Seattle Region Signs Construction Alliance with AGC
Partnerships in Chicago Region Paying Safety and Health Dividends
Voluntary Protection Program Activity
The first set in a series of industry-specific guidelines for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace was published by OSHA on March 13, marking a milestone in the agency's comprehensive approach to ergonomics. OSHA Administrator John Henshaw announced the publication of Guidelines for Nursing Homes in a press conference at the Labor Department saying that they "reflect best practices for tackling ergonomic problems in the industry."
Statements issued the same day by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy endorsed the new nursing home guidelines. OSHA is currently working on guidelines for the retail grocery store and poultry processing industries.
Employers who repeatedly flout safety and health regulations at their workers' peril can expect a lot more attention from OSHA. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced an enhanced enforcement program March 11 that will focus on employers who have received high gravity citations. OSHA will bolster its enforcement program with more follow-up and programmed inspections, added public visibility of recalcitrant violators,
additional requirements for settlements, and federal court enforcement.
The 26,000-member American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) joined March 10 in an Alliance with OSHA to focus on reducing ergonomic injuries in the workplace. OSHA Administrator John Henshaw said the Alliance was important for the Academy's commitment to "share with us the orthopaedic community's vast clinical expertise on musculoskeletal injury and disease."
On March 12, OSHA welcomed the first retail group into the Alliance program with the Virginia-based International Mass Retail Association (IRMA). Like AAOS, the Alliance with IRMA will focus on reducing ergonomic injuries for workers in more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers nationwide.
Approximately two million U.S. workers are exposed to the dangerous and sometimes deadly effects of silica dust exposure. To help workers protect themselves against such exposure, OSHA has created Crystalline Silica Exposure health hazard information cards for both general industry and construction. The pocket-sized cards identify symptoms of silicosis and the most common causes of occupational exposure, as well as how to protect against exposure to the dust.
Respirators and other personal protective equipment are also discussed. (The cards are also available via OSHA's Spanish publications page).
An internal review of OSHA's Grain Handling Facilities Standard has found that the standard does help save lives and has not had a negative effect on the industry. The regulatory review, completed last month, revealed that there have been 70 percent fewer fatalities and 55 percent fewer injuries from grain explosions since the standard's promulgation in 1987. Also, the number of grain suffocations decreased by 44 percent.
Based on comments received during the review, the agency will issue clarifications and consider possible improvements to the standard, including whether confined space requirements should apply to all areas of grain storage facilities.
OSHA is co-sponsoring a safety and health forum in Dixon, IL, on March 26 for small businesses, focusing specifically on machine guarding, fire safety, accident investigations, and recordkeeping rules. Joining OSHA in the forum will be representatives from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, the state's Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program, and the forum's host-Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon.
Registration for the seminar, at a cost of $30, can be obtained by calling the college's Office of Corporate and Community Services at (815) 288-5511, ext. 302.
The Associated General Contractors of Washington signed an Alliance earlier this month with OSHA's Regional headquarters in Seattle to promote safer and more healthful working conditions for construction workers throughout the state. OSHA's Seattle office will participate with AGC in forums on injury and illness trends in the construction industry, while developing models the agency can incorporate as industry recommendations.
Cross-training OSHA personnel and the industry's safety and health professionals is a key component of the Alliance.
Three strategic partnerships in the Chicago region are showing positive results. A two-year-old partnership between the Cleveland area office and the Construction Employers Association has resulted in a 32 percent improvement in injury and illness rates between 1999-2001. The Cincinnati area office's partnership with 24 companies of the Allied Construction Industries succeeded in implementing effective safety and health programs for each company. Also, only eight of the 24 companies reported any lost workdays during the two-year partnership, while 16 remain injury-free. Finally, OSHA's area office in Appleton, WI has an ongoing partnership
with Turner Construction on the Lambeau Field remodeling project in Green Bay. All contractors (a total of 55 at one point) have written safety and health programs, and all have at least one employee with 30 hours of OSHA-related training.
The following companies were approved recently for new or continued participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP): Dock Resins Corp., Linden, NJ (1-yr conditional); Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corp., Tarrytown, NY (Cont. Star); Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, NY (Cont. Star); Hamilton Sundstrand Management Services, Inc., Houston TX (New Star); El Dorado Nitrogen, L.P., Baytown, TX (New Star); CYRO Industries, Osceola, AR (New Star); Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., Pasadena, TX (New Star); Austin Industrial Inc., @ Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., Pasadena, TX (New Star); Valero, 3 Rivers Refinery, 3 Rivers, TX (New Star); Old Castle Precast, Inc., Manchester, NY (New Merit); American Packaging Corp., Rochester, NY (New Star); Epicor, Inc., Linden, NJ (Cont. Star);
George Weston Bakeries, Hazelton, PA (Cont. Star); PPL Brunner Island Steam Electric Station, Brunner Island, PA (New Star); and Honeywell Specialty Films, Pottsville, PA (Cont. Star).
OSHA periodically lists a schedule of safety and health-related conferences and meetings, as well as public hearings, on our website. Check often for events near you.
Editor: Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, 202-693-1999