First Set of Industry-Specific Ergonomics Guidelines Announced
Labor Secretary, OSHA Administrator Testify on Ergonomics
National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics Gearing Up
OSHA Announces New Data Collection Initiatives
Hazard Info Bulletin Addresses Beryllium Exposure in Dental Labs
Terrorism: What Every Employer Should Know
OSHA Offers International Travel Guidance
Voluntary Protection Program Activity
OSHA Strategic Partnership Program Activity
OSHA Joins with AMEC Construction to Reduce Injury and Illness Rates
Confined Spaces Standard Software Program
Job Safety & Health Quarterly -- Spring 2002
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced last month that OSHA will work with representatives of the nursing home profession on its first set of ergonomic guidelines. The announcement sets into motion OSHA's comprehensive plan announced April 5 to reduce ergonomic injuries in the workplace. The draft guidelines are expected to be ready for public comment later this year and will be published in the Federal Register for review.
Secretary Chao and Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, John Henshaw, both visited Capitol Hill last month to brief lawmakers on OSHA's comprehensive plan to reduce musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. Chao addressed the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on April 18, while Henshaw testified before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Committee on Education and the Workforce, April 25.
The second in a line of initiatives for OSHA's comprehensive approach to reducing ergonomic injuries was announced April 30 with the formation of the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics. The committee will consist of 15 members selected for their expertise and/or experience with ergonomic issues. Nominations for committee members will be accepted by OSHA; details of the committee's charter and nomination procedures are scheduled to be published in the May 2, 2002 Federal Register.
John Henshaw, OSHA Administrator, announced two new data collection initiatives geared to reducing workplace fatalities and accidents suffered by non-English speaking workers. During a ceremony commemorating Worker's Memorial Day, April 26, Henshaw said OSHA would begin collecting data on country of origin and primary language capability for all workers involved in fatality and other serious accident investigations. He also said data will be collected for the first time from about 13,000 construction employers, an industry with high fatality rates among immigrant and other workers.
Dental laboratory technicians who work on such items as dental crowns, bridges and denture frameworks made from alloys containing beryllium can become sensitized to the chemical, and can develop chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. OSHA published a Hazard Information Bulletin last month that addresses those concerns and offers effective methods to prevent exposure to beryllium.
A conference in Arlington, Tex. this summer will focus on helping workers and employers know when adequate precautions are being taken to protect against terrorist violence. Sponsored by OSHA, the Department of Labor, and the Texas Engineering Extension Service, the conference will be held July 30-31 and will feature workshops on mail handling, employee background checks, emergency action plans, visitor screening, and more. Presentations by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security are planned.
Helping to reduce and prevent health risks for business travelers overseas is the focus of OSHA's recently-published technical information bulletin called "Safety and Health During International Travel." The new OSHA guide also lists sources for additional guidelines on helpful strategies to reduce health risks for those working abroad, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department.
The following companies were approved last month for participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP): Occidental Chemical Corporation, Pottstown, PA (New Star); United Space Alliance, LLC, Huntsville Operations, Huntsville, AL (New Star); and Frito-Lay, Corn Handling Facility, Sidney, IL (New Star).
A pilot program to provide recordkeeping training for small businesses in selected areas is in the works thanks to the efforts of a strategic partnership between OSHA and the Association for Small Business Development Centers and the Labor Department's Office of Small Business. A workshop was held April 16 for coordinators to conduct the training in Delaware, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, D.C. Training is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.
OSHA's Calumet City. Ill. Area Office entered into a Strategic Partnership with AMEC Construction Management, Inc. last month. The initiative covers seven high-rise sites where AMEC is the general contractor. The overall goal is to reduce injury and illness rates to 5.8 percent or lower (30 percent below the industry average). AMEC has agreed to one unannounced OSHA verification inspection within six months after construction reaches ten stories. Similar inspections will then occur once between six and 12 months after the first inspection, and then once annually.
OSHA has developed a new software program (e-PRCS) that helps employers comply with the permit required confined spaces standard by creating a site-specific written program. The program also provides help text and links to related compliance information on the OSHA web site.
The spring issue of OSHA's official magazine - Job Safety and Health Quarterly - will feature Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao who shares her views about protecting America's workers. The issue will also include articles on OSHA's ergonomics plan, and OSHA's outreach to Hispanic workers. Published four times a year, JSHQ offers a variety of interesting news and feature articles about workplace safety and health. Look for the next issue later this month on OSHA's web site. You can also subscribe through the Government Printing Office.
Editor: Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, 202-693-1999