Labor Secretary Announces New Small Business Policy Initiative
OSHA Unveils Next Two Industries for Ergonomics Guidelines
Application Deadline for Harwood Training Grants Extended
Technical Information Bulletin Addresses Hazards in Temporary Enclosures
Discard Blood Tube Holders and Contaminated Needles Together
OSHA, EPA Coordinate Efforts to Recognize Industry Leadership
Voluntary Protection Program Activity
OSHA Certifies Newest "SHARP" Companies
OSHA Welcomes New Head of Office of Construction Services
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced in a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business June 14 that a major priority of the Labor Department is to provide small businesses with the knowledge and tools to help comply with the nation's labor laws and regulations. The compliance assistance initiative will start with the creation of a senior position -- Director of Compliance Assistance -- to ensure all the Department's agencies are helping employers comply with the regulations. The Secretary also announced that OSHA plans to establish an office dedicated to small business.
OSHA Administrator John Henshaw announced June 10 that workers in retail grocery stores and poultry processing will be the focus of the next two sets of industry-specific guidelines to reduce ergonomic-related injuries. Speaking to nearly 3,000 occupational safety and health professionals at the American Society of Safety Engineers' annual conference in Nashville, Henshaw said that several stakeholders have committed to working with the agency in developing the guidelines, including the National Grocers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Chicken Council, the National
Turkey Federation, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Organizations wishing to apply for safety and health training grants under OSHA's Susan B. Harwood training grant program, have an additional two weeks to do so. OSHA extended the application deadline to July 5 for non-profit organizations to apply for the $6.6 million in safety and health training grants. The grants are targeted to organizations that focus on worker and employer education in small businesses, non-English speaking workers, and workers in high hazard industries.
OSHA has issued a bulletin to alert workers and employers of the hazards involved while working in temporary enclosed spaces when those enclosures are in close proximity to hazardous substances. The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) cites numerous hazards which may be present within temporary enclosures, including oxygen deficiency, chemical exposure, flammable atmospheres, thermal hazards, etc. The bulletin gives guidance in identifying and managing the hazards, offers recommendations to employers who use temporary enclosures, and provides access to an electronic training presentation on the subject.
Removing contaminated needles from blood tube holders exposes workers to potentially lethal hazards and is a practice prohibited by OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard. The agency clarified that policy June 12 in a letter of interpretation, stating "the increased manipulation required to remove a contaminated needle from a blood tube holder is unnecessary and may result in a needlestick from either the front or back end of the needle." OSHA requires that employees discard blood tube holders with attached needles immediately into a sharps container after activation of the device's safety feature. Adhering to the policy will reduce the dangers of needlesticks for healthcare workers and others who handle medical sharps.
OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement to coordinate efforts of OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs and EPA's National Environmental Performance Track to recognize and reward environmental and safety and health leadership. The agreement provides a vehicle for OSHA and EPA to explore opportunities to jointly recruit facilities into both programs, and to work together to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of both programs. The voluntary programs encourage employers to go beyond federal and state laws and regulations to protect both the environment and America's workforce.
The following companies were recently approved for new or continued participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP): International Paper, Texas Supertree Nursery, Bullard, TX (Cont. Star); Dow Chemical Co., Houston Operations, LaPort Site, LaPort, TX (Cont. Star); BE&K Industrial Services at International Paper's Androscoggin Mill, Jay, ME (New Merit); Georgia Pacific, Warrenton Chip-n-Saw Mill, Warrenton, GA (Star Re-approval); Bayer Corporation, Baytown, TX (One-Year Star Conditional); Cytec Industries, Inc., Willow Island, West VA (New Star); and International Paper, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Carmel, PA (New Star).
OSHA certified fifteen companies last month as Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) sites. Developed for smaller, high hazard worksites, SHARP recognizes employers who have demonstrated exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health by receiving a safety and health consultation visit, correcting all workplace safety and health hazards, and adopting and implementing effective safety and health management systems. The newest sites are: Dicar, Inc, Pine Brook, NJ; Falconer Electronics, Falconer, NY; Golden Age of Jena, Jena, LA; Allied Building Stores, Inc., Monroe, LA; McElroy Manufacturing Corp., Tulsa, OK; Fansteel Specialty Metals, Inc., Muskogee, OK; Basco Leather Goods, Duncan, OK; Cameron Glass, Inc., Broken Arrow, OK; Ambox, Houston, TX; Signal Metal Industries, Irving, TX; Southwest Logistics/Shippers, Garland, TX; Tools and Metals, Inc., Ft. Worth, TX; Uniflex, Muenster, TX; Vantage Pointe Homes,
Roca, NE ; Window Technologies, LLC, Lincoln, NE. OSHA also renewed the status of 15 previously certified SHARP participants. (Note: These additions reflect May data reported as of the date of this publication).
OSHA Administrator John Henshaw announced June 12 the selection of Stewart Burkhammer to head OSHA's Office of Construction Services. Burkhammer recently retired as Principal Vice President & Manager for Corporate Environmental, Safety and Health Services at Bechtel Group of Companies. A former acting chairman of OSHA's Advisory Committee for Construction Safety & Health, Burkhammer has worked for 40 years in the environmental, safety and health arena.
Editor: Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, 202-693-1999