|2005 OSHSPA Report > State initiatives: changing the work environment|
|State initiatives: changing the work environment|
Alaska Occupational Safety and Health (AKOSH) contracted with a private collection agency to collect delinquent fines and penalties. In the past, overdue fines were turned over to the Department of Law for collection. The Department of Law charged AKOSH an hourly rate for all collection activities regardless of whether any collections were made and did not aggressively pursue legal action to collect fines. AKOSH now turns delinquent accounts over to a collection agency and is charged a percentage only when a collection is actually made.
AKOSH Enforcement has developed several citation settlement mechanisms to improve workplace safety and health results. In one example, the settlement agreement allows a construction contractor an alternative to pay the penalty amount to the Alaska General Contractors’ drug and alcohol rehabilitation program (a program designed to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by assisting construction workers with substance abuse habits). This settlement program is completely voluntary and provides a contractor with a mechanism to directly impact the workplace injury and illness rates in their industry. Initial response to the program has been very good.
AKOSH gained responsibility for certain mine safety issues, such as temporary camps, medical facilities and mine access roads that are open for public use. Previously, the line between MSHA responsibilities and AKOSH responsibilities were very vague. The agreement between MSHA and AKOSH has clarified where responsibilities lie.
AKOSH is also continuing to update the following state regulations:
In an effort to better serve the growing number of limited- and non-English-speaking workers in the state, California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) has actively sought to overcome language barriers between it and the public it serves. Recent publications have been translated into multiple languages, depending on the industry addressed.
Cal/OSHA has issued 31 Spanish publications, seven Chinese publications, five Korean publications, two Russian publications, eight Tagalog publications and seven Vietnamese publications.
Due to the largely Spanish-speaking agricultural workforce in California, Cal/OSHA strives to increase awareness of workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities through an increase in bilingual educational and public relations efforts that target worker advocacy groups, employers and workers.
Cal/OSHA hosted, co-hosted and/or participated in numerous multi-agency farm worker forums that provide workers with an opportunity to learn about Cal/OSHA and other agencies and services available to them.
Cal/OSHA attended meetings with various advocacy group, such as Lideres Campesinas, California rural assistance (CRLA), Pesticide Coalition and farmworker coalitions.
Cal/OSHA has significantly increased the number of in-house staff members who have been certified as bilingual. Employees fluent in Arabic, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese have met requirements needed to earn a salary augmentation.
California’s Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI) standard, which became effective July 3, 1997, was the first ergonomics standard adopted in the nation. The application of the standard is triggered when at least two employees at the employer’s worksite report RMIs that: 1) are diagnosed by a licensed physician; 2) are caused predominantly by identical work activity; and 3) occurred within 12 months of each other.
Educational outreach relating to ergonomics was twice the projected goal. The Cal/OSHA Consultation Service produced an updated Office Ergonomics for Computer Users. The Consultation Service is working on a Materials Handling Guide in cooperation with NIOSH and the Materials Handling Institute. Other publications
Emergency standard about heat illness prevention
The new Cal/OSHA Emergency Heat Illness Prevention Standard was re-adopted on an emergency basis. Cal/OSHA expects to adopt a permanent standard in June 2006, for submission to the state Office of Administrative Law, with a permanent standard to be effective by August 2006.
Fatalities related to heat-related incidents in 2005 added to the impetus for development of an emergency standard. The occurrence of sustained extreme hot temperature conditions in the state during the summer of 2005 was accompanied by an unusual number of reports of occupational heat-related illnesses and deaths. A summary of heat-related compliance inspections was prepared and 26 cases are being tracked. Two-thirds of the heat illness cases occurred in agriculture and construction.
Most cases of heat illness involved workers who had been on the job four days or fewer. Many workers who either fell ill or died had been on the job one day or fewer. None of the workers had been trained in heat acclimation and the vast majority of employers did not have a heat illness prevention program in place, although 80 percent of employers had an injury and illness prevention program.
That workers had been on the job a very short period before their heat stress illness occurred suggests lack of acclimation is a critical factor. The majority of workers spoke Spanish as their primary language. In all cases, drinking water was available, but in 18 cases there was evidence of dehydration.
A temperature of 90 degrees F at a humidity of 30 percent in the shade calls for a warning of extreme caution for heat illnesses, such as sunstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. If the person is working in direct sunlight, the "extreme caution" warning is called for at 75 degrees F. A warning of "extreme danger" is called for at a temperature of 85 degrees F for a person working in direct sunlight.
New requirements for work on underground installations (advisory committee)
An advisory committee recently released a proposed revision to Construction Safety Orders, which is intended to address problems identified as a result of a tragic explosion in November 2004. A fireball erupted when an excavator working on a water project punctured a high-octane gasoline line. The gas ignited, most likely from friction caused by escaping liquid, and fire engulfed workers working on a six-foot water main.
Cal/OSHA determined the explosion, which claimed the lives of five employees and left four other seriously injured, was completely preventable. The primary cause of the tragic incident was that the employees working in the area did not know the location of the petroleum line.
The proposal for a new standard is aimed at addressing how high-risk installations, such as gas pipelines and high-voltage lines, are identified before excavation begins.
The Connecticut OSHA (CONN-OSHA) safe driving/fleet safety initiative is a huge success with many state agencies and municipalities attending or scheduled to attend at least the safe-driving portion of the training.
CONN-OSHA has achieved a 60 percent mark of its total goal of training 80 vocational technical instructors to be able to deliver the 10-hour OSHA Outreach course to each student prior to graduation.
Indiana OSHA continues to use the informal settlement process to promote hazard-specific safety training and programs. Approximately 60 percent of informal settlement agreements contain stipulations requiring employer appropriate safety training.
The Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) continues to use the expedited informal settlement agreement process.
The Kentucky Department of Labor has added a position in the Commissioner’s Office with responsibilities to provide outreach to the Hispanic-speaking employers and employees of the commonwealth. Additionally, the Division of Compliance has hired bilingual personnel to ensure communications during compliance inspections.
Kentucky also prints its Safety and Health Protection on the Job poster in English and Spanish.
Kentucky is exploring and has proposed regulatory changes in reporting of accidents to include one or two employers hospitalized and all amputations.
In a settlement agreement with a large employer that smelts aluminum, a new type of agreement was developed whereby the employer agreed to implement the requirements set forth in TED 8.4 dated March 25, 2003. These are the safety and health management system elements that must be implemented before VPP status can even be considered. Not only did the company agree and sign the agreement, but the union also agreed to sign the settlement agreement. The total penalty was reduced from $81,900 to $27,900 in consideration for a detailed settlement agreement preparing the company and union to apply for VPP status in the future.
The settlement includes all elements of a Comprehensive Safety and Health Plan based on the 1989 Safety and Health Guidelines. This settlement represents the most detailed requirements developed in Kentucky as part of a settlement agreement. The Division of Compliance was especially pleased to have played a role in facilitating a settlement that included both the company and the union. The division had issued several willful citations related to safety and health violations at the facility.
The employer has agreed to abate and accept all violations as serious and develop within three months a detailed comprehensive safety and health plan as set forth in the settlement agreement for its workers. The employer has until July 1, 2008, to fully implement the plan at the facility. The employer has agreed to have a certified safety professional (CSP) or certified industrial hygienist (CIH) verify the program was developed and implemented and provide written verification. If the employer fails to provide the Department of Labor verification, then the remaining unpaid penalty of $54,000 will be due.
The Construction Partnership Program was directly involved in the statewide training offered to the residential construction industry. More than 1,000 participants received 10-hour OSHA construction industry training specific to residential construction. The program was also directly involved with the Kentucky Administrative Regulation change relating to fall protection requirements for the residential industry.
The Construction Partnership Program has also entered into a five-way training partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Department of Workforce Investment, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and the Associated General Contractors of Kentucky. The partnership will provide the 30-hour construction industry courses and certification to the instructors affiliated with these departments. The successful completion by the instructors will allow them to obtain the 500-level certification. After the 500-level certification has been obtained, those instructors will teach the 10- and 30-hour construction industry courses to the students at the secondary and post-secondary levels.
The dramatic increase in Hispanic workers entering the labor force dictated Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) address this in its mission goals. Maryland now prints its Safety and Health Protection on the Job poster in English and Spanish, and now also publishes its MOSH Closing Conference Guide in Spanish; this booklet explains the employer’s rights following an inspection.
A full-day course about construction safety was developed for Spanish-speaking employers and employees, Seguridad en la Constrccion. A conference targeted to construction companies that use or hire Spanish-speaking subcontractors or workers was developed in fiscal-year 2004, and then expanded and presented again in fiscal-year 2005, in a different region of the state. The conference was done in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Labor and Industry and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health. Take-home tools were developed and distributed to attendees, such as a clipboard with common phrases in English and Spanish, and scaffolding diagrams. The division also developed a CD that provides employers with resources and information to help improve safety programs for Spanish-speaking employees. Additionally, the MOSH Training and Education Department purchased additional safety videos in Spanish to enhance the public lending library.
As part of the 30th anniversary activities, Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA) presented the Governor’s Workplace Safety and Health Forum, Nov. 3, 2005. More than 250 manufacturing employers from across the state attended the forum, which continued Governor Jennifer Granholm’s focus Manufacturing Matters in Michigan. Top executives from Michigan’s Best of the Best companies shared their stories of business successes while creating a safe and healthful work environment. During roundtable sessions, companies shared their best practices, lessons learned and "how-to" strategies.
On Sept. 22, 2005, MIOSHA launched an extensive awareness campaign to alert construction employers they must provide appropriate fall protection and training for employees exposed to fall hazards. The initiative is being implemented in two phases. The first phase focuses on residential construction. A mass mailing was sent to more than 6,000 Michigan construction employers identified as having work activities that may expose employees to fall hazards in residential construction, with training seminars beginning in October. The second phase of the initiative, nonresidential fall protection, will follow in 2006.
Michigan’s strategic plan includes musculoskeletal disorders as a focus for reducing injuries and illnesses by 20 percent. In 2005, MIOSHA revised its guidelines for conducting ergonomics investigations, provided staff training and hired an ergonomics specialist. MIOSHA also conducts extensive outreach and education activities, focused on improving ergonomic conditions. During fiscal-year 2005, MIOSHA conducted eight workshops and 88 consultations/interventions related to ergonomics.
In 2002, two MIOSHA standards commissions responsible for developing and adopting workplace safety and health standards established an advisory committee to draft a Michigan ergonomics standard. The advisory committee is researching, drafting, obtaining public input and making recommendations to the commissions.
A MIOSHA CET grant was awarded to the Center for Workplace Violence Prevention to develop a video/DVD, Workplace Violence Prevention: Implementing Your Program. The video provides practical information and guidelines for employers to structure and implement a violence prevention program. In 2005, the video won two national Telly Awards for production excellence.
Ergonomics specialist positions: In July 2003, Minnesota OSHA created two positions to assist employers in reducing the occurrences of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). The positions were created in response to recommendations made by the Ergonomics Task-force, which convened during the summer of 2002. The main responsibilities of the positions are to educate Minnesota employers and employees about the recognition and control of risk factors associated with WMSD. This will be accomplished through development of training and education presentations and materials, on-site ergonomics evaluations and providing resources about ergonomics and the control of WMSD via the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Web site.
In an effort to maximize impact in reducing WMSD within the state, initial efforts will focus on the nursing-home industry. Part of this focus has included the development and commencement of a nursing-home study. This study is assessing the injury and illness impact at nursing-home facilities that choose to obtain assistance from MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation, compared to those facilities that do not. The study requires volunteers to reduce WMSD through the acquisition of lift and transfer equipment, and the development and implementation of required elements of an ergonomics management system and associated work policies. This study began in January 2004; 26 employers are now committed to the study. All 26 employers have received initial comprehensive safety and health on-site consultation visits. As a result of these visits, the consultants identified 651 safety and health hazards, which have been corrected on a timely basis. The estimated penalty savings is about $256,000.
Workplace violence prevention
In federal fiscal-year 2005, MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC) conducted 45 violence-related intervention presentations, covering 1,390 private-sector employers and employees. WSC has partnered with the Minnesota Corporation Citizenship Initiative program to help develop information for employers about how to address domestic violence in the workplace.
Minnesota Statutes and Rules update
In federal fiscal-year 2005, three changes occurred to Minnesota-specific statutes that apply to MNOSHA. Effective Aug. 1, 2005, Minnesota Statutes §182.653, subd. 9, was amended to include the addition of NAICS to the choice of industrial classifications of employers that must comply with subdivision 8 (A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction, or AWAIR, program). The other amendments, related to certification and regulation of crane operations, are effective July 1, 2007: M.S. §182.6525 is new; and subdivision 1a was added to M.S. §182.659.
An annual review of Minnesota-specific rules was conducted; no MNOSHA rules were recommended for repeal in federal fiscal-year 2006.
In federal fiscal-year 2005, MNOSHA reviewed the workflow of its verification of abatement process. Refinements to abatement date tracking resulted in a 50 percent decrease in the number of cases in which abatement is not verified within 30 days of the abatement date.
Prior to federal fiscal-year 2005, settlement agreements negotiated by MNOSHA were prepared by attorneys in the Legal Services unit of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Recently, MNOSHA began drafting all settlement agreements it negotiates. Using a case management software program, which is also used by the Legal Services unit, relevant data is entered and merged into form letters to schedule informal conferences and settlement agreements. MNOSHA edits the settlement agreement according to the terms of the settlement and the draft amendment is then reviewed by Legal Services, before being sent to the employer. The goal is to reduce the turnaround time for settlement agreements, to rely less on Legal Services and to achieve greater consistency in settlement agreements.
Discrimination unit improvements
MNOSHA analyzed the work-flow process for its Discrimination unit. This work-flow analysis was a prime driver in reducing the case load of the unit. It has also proven to be a useful tool in training new discrimination investigators and the continued refinement of the screening process. In federal fiscal-year 2005, the Discrimination unit closed 69 cases, the largest number of cases closed in a single year. This led to a significant decrease to the backlog of cases.
In 2005, the Nevada Legislature passed enhancements to state regulations governing cranes. A significant part of these enhancements included the responsibility of NV OSHA to set, oversee and enforce certification requirements for tower and mobile crane operators.
Additionally, anticipating growth in the use of sustainable energy, such as solar energy, the state Legislature put into place statutes that require NV OSHA to institute continuing education/training and licensing requirements for photovoltaic installers.
Nevada’s Safety Consultation and Training Section continued to conduct ergonomics presentations through the training section.
Nevada’s Safety Consultation and Training Section presented several daylong programs about workplace violence to enhance the scope of awareness to employers. Shorter conference programs were also conducted at the request of employer associations.
Bilingual and multilingual communications
Nevada’s Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) has expanded the number of presentations available and conducted in Spanish. Many of the training sessions were for Hispanic employers, through the joint activities of SCATS and various associations.
The inaugural Hispanic Safety Month activities in April 2005 were a success. Nevada’s governor proclaimed April as Hispanic Safety Month. Nevada’s SCATS conducted two 10-hour OSHA construction courses in Spanish, made several conference presentations in Spanish and staffed booths at many outreach activities to the Hispanic community in an effort to enhance safety awareness.
Nevada has produced Spanish and English videos, compact discs and pamphlets about rights and responsibilities. Nevada statutes mandate that employers provide the rights and responsibilities information to their employees, who in turn must sign that they have reviewed the information. The pamphlets are also available on the SCATS Web site.
Workers in New Jersey’s county long-term and personal care facilities experience rates of occupational injury and illness similar to public-sector workers who perform heavy labor jobs, such as refuse collection and utility work (NJ Department of Labor, 2001). The majority of these injuries and illnesses are musculoskeletal in nature and are associated with lifting, moving and transferring residents. New Jersey is encouraging all long-term and acute health care facilities to implement the OSHA Guidelines for Nursing Homes: Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders through the services of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) Consultation Project.
The NJDHSS Consultation Project is evaluating compliance with the occupational health standards that apply to long-term-care settings, including bloodborne pathogens, asbestos, hazard communication and respiratory protection. In addition, the NJDHSS Consultation Project is evaluating workplace tuberculosis (TB) prevention activities and workplace violence protection.
NJDHSS consultations at long-term-care facilities have revealed assistance is required in the following areas:
In March 2003, NJDHSS PEOSH Program began a programmed inspection initiative of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response teams throughout the state. NJDHSS conducted compliance inspections at 30 of the 45 public HAZMAT teams and will inspect all New Jersey HAZMAT teams. The inspection procedures focused on evaluating compliance with the Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) and the Hazardous Materials Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard (29 CFR 1910.120).
Violations cited primarily consisted of failure to provide medical monitoring and to establish a written respiratory protection program that included a section to outline criteria used to select the type of respirator used at a particular event.
Results of the PEOSH bloodborne pathogens survey were published by NJDHSS. The findings of the survey indicate:
Communication Tower Standard
The first Communication Tower Standard in the country was approved in North Carolina. Most of the standard’s requirements became effective May 1, 2005. The standard requires 100 percent fall protection for tower work above six feet. Industry groups and other stakeholders helped in the development of the standard.
In May 2005, Oregon OSHA (OR-OSHA) received final 18(e) determination from federal OSHA as a state-plan state. After this achievement, the previous administrator, Peter DeLuca, retired from public service after more than 20 years of service, the last nine-and-a-half years with OR-OSHA. Many attended the official ceremony May 12, 2005, in Portland, Ore., including Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan Snare, Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs Paula White, Region 10 Administrator Richard Terrill, Governor Ted Kulongoski and Department of Consumer and Business Services Director Cory Streisinger.
Examining ergonomics data has resulted in placing a special focus on the health care field; OR-OSHA will be sponsoring a second Healthcare in Ergonomics conference in 2006.
The bilingual PESO program (Programa en Español de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo de OR-OSHA) continues to attract both employers and employees. The train-the-trainer workshop, Safety Training and Your Hispanic Workforce, is drawing great interest among employers wanting to understand a multicultural workforce. In fiscal-year 2006, new modules will continue to be developed. Visit www.orosha.org/educate/peso.html, which includes instructions for printing the bilingual publications.
Prior to passage of HB 2093, Oregon law required OR-OSHA to notify in writing each employer whose accepted disabling claims rate was above the state average for its SIC and each employer whose industry was noted by the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) as one of the most unsafe, of the increased likelihood of inspection and the availability of consultative services.
The result was that several thousand low-hazard employers were receiving the notification, even though those places of employment were not unsafe, nor were they likely to be inspected. HB 2093 amended the statute by eliminating the accepted disabling claims rate as a criteria for employer notification and provided the director of DCBS the authority to determine which industries are the most unsafe and, therefore, which employers have an increased likelihood of receiving an OR-OSHA inspection.
This year, three recipients received scholarships as part of the Workers’ Memorial Scholarship program; Jillian Becker, Annette Maraey and Natasha Whitaker Kilfoil each received $4,700. At the request of the AFL-CIO and Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Legislature established a Workers’ Memorial Scholarship fund, with principal initially derived from OR-OSHA civil penalty assessments. Interest from this fund is available in the form of scholarships to further the education of surviving children or spouses of workers who were killed or permanently disabled by on-the-job injuries.
The third annual Safety Break for Oregon was May 11, 2005. Materials available for employers and community groups included ideas for enhancing the message of worker safety, including: awarding Safety All-Stars in your organization, delivering your message to young workers (or soon-to-be workers) at Bring Your Child to Work Day and making safety awareness part of new-employee orientation.
Puerto Rico OSHA (PR OSHA) adopts many federal occupational safety and health standards and, by law, it must translate all English-language standards it adopts into Spanish. During fiscal-year 2005, the Technical Support Division translated seven standards into Spanish:
PR OSHA also aided in the revision of the Spanish version of the OSHA Construction eTool. The Technical Support Division provided personnel and resources to help in the preparation of a new set of terms and phrases for the agency’s Web site, particularly the links to the Construction eTool.
Tennessee OSHA continues to work with representatives from non-English-speaking communities. A pool of interpreters is available throughout the state to travel with a compliance officer when on-site interpreting is needed. In addition, an interpretive service is available to the compliance officer by telephone in approximately 23 different languages. All compliance officers have been issued cellular phones to allow them to access this service. Two cases involving the termination of non-English-speaking Hispanic workers, who voiced safety and health concerns to their employer, were filed by the attorney general and are awaiting adjudication.
Utah Occupational Safety and Health (UOSH) is a member of a lead task-force with membership that includes the Utah Division of Air Quality, Utah state and county health departments, and local county governments.
Through participation in this task force, UOSH provides information and training about the regulatory requirements for worker exposure to lead during the removal of lead-based paint in housing.
Utah established a new standard for raising framed walls in residential construction as a result of several injuries and fatalities caused by wall "kick-out."
Utah Compliance Assistance developed compliance guidelines for tire servicing, methamphetamine lab assessment and clean-up, dental office operations, work hazards for masonry contractors, silica hazards in construction and raising wood-framed walls.
UOSH regularly provides outreach instruction to local universities (University of Utah, Weber State University, Brigham Young University, Utah State University and Salt Lake Community College) with programs in industrial hygiene, ergonomics and safety engineering, and construction management. The presentations address information about UOSH and regulatory requirements.
Vermont OSHA (VOSHA) is working with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program to provide training for new workers. VOSHA staff members are providing safety training for apprentices and high school students in vocational technical schools.
Virginia was one of the first states in the country to adopt unique state standards for confined spaces in the construction and telecommunications industries back in 1987. These unique standards require covered employers to develop an entry permit system, perform atmospheric testing, provide mechanical ventilation when required, assure attendants and rescue teams are available when required, and train employees about the standard.
In 2003, Virginia adopted a state-unique fall protection standard for steel erection workers for heights starting at 10 feet above a lower level (i.e., working surface), instead of federal OSHA’s requirement for fall protection starting at 15 feet. There is an exception to the 10-foot fall protection requirement for employees working as "connectors" (a connector is defined as "... an employee who, working with hoisting equipment, is placing and connecting structural members and/or components"). Connectors have the option of using a personal fall-arrest system or not when steel is being lifted in the air, if they determine that a greater hazard of injury exists from the swinging steel. In addition, controlled decking zones are prohibited. Although controlled decking zones (CDZ) are prohibited, the standard provides that access to leading edge decking operations is limited to only those employees engaged in leading edge work, as is provided in the federal standard.
Washington’s discrimination investigations program is a nationwide leader with exemplary timeliness, merit and settled case rates. In 2005, DOSH completed 93 percent of 91 case investigations within the 90-day statutory time line. Thirty-seven percent of investigated cases resulted in a merit finding. In addition, 87 percent of the merit cases were settled by DOSH, with more than $120,900 in settlement monies obtained for complainants. About 67 additional cases that failed to comply with the criteria or failed to meet the requirement of prima facie evidence to establish that a complaint has merit were screened and administratively closed. "Prima facie" elements must include evidence of the following:
Washington provides a Spanish version of its Web site, including a description of services, answers to frequently asked questions and copies of Spanish language publications. The site is online at www.lni.wa.gov/spanish/safety/default.asp. In partnership with the construction industry, DOSH developed online videos for residential construction about siding, roofing and framing safety. All of these are available on the Web in both English and Spanish.
Cholinesterase is essential to the normal function of the nervous system. Without the normal protective levels, nerves in the body may be overstimulated to the point of exhaustion, leading to symptoms ranging from blurred vision and tremors to seizures, loss of consciousness and even death. Washington adopted cholinesterase monitoring rules that went into effect in February 2004, to protect agricultural pesticide handlers. The state conducted an extensive public outreach and training program in both Spanish and English. Tests of the level of free cholinesterase in workers’ blood can identify their overexposure to certain dangerous pesticides that suppress the body’s production of the enzyme. Washington has recommended such tests since 1993, and, in 2002, was required by a Supreme Court decision to initiate rulemaking for a mandatory cholinesterase monitoring program for agricultural pesticide handlers. DOSH worked with employer and employee advocates, as well as members of both houses of the Washington State Legislature.
During spring 2004, Washington conducted an extensive outreach and training program, including workshops, presentations, radio talk shows, fact sheets and news releases in Spanish and in English. Thousands of growers, workers, medical providers and others learned about the new rules, which require that employers:
In 2004, Washington launched a new emphasis program for road construction with two significant goals: to prevent fatalities and injuries caused by moving vehicles at jobsites and to protect workers from hearing loss caused by exposure to hazardous noise levels from heavy machinery. Seventeen workers doing construction or utility work on road projects had died during a five-year period. Six of those workers died when they were backed over by dump trucks, despite the trucks being equipped with audible back-up alarms. DOSH worked with the Construction Advisory Committee to address this issue.
Prior to the 2004 construction season, Washington adopted an emergency rule requiring that in addition to a backup alarm, dump-truck drivers must have either an observer signaling when it is safe to back up or a mechanical device such as a video camera that provides a full view of the area behind the truck. DOSH provided educational materials and training about the revised work-zone rules. DOSH also informed industry groups that more inspections would be conducted, and encouraged them to request an on-site consultation visit instead. The rules have since been permanently adopted, including clarifying the requirements for signs, signaling and flagging. One provision states that seat belts must not only be properly installed, they must be used by all occupants of the vehicle. Since the rules were adopted in May 2004, no workers have been killed in dump-truck back-up incidents in Washington and no employer has been found out of compliance with the rules.
Noise was selected as a focus area out of the desire to expand Washington’s cross-agency safety initiatives to a health emphasis program. One-third of the costs of all permanent job-related impairments are due to hearing loss ($43 million in 2001). The incident rate for road construction is 10 times higher than for all other risk classes and three times higher compared to the rest of the construction industry. Washington is using contacts with partners in state, county and city offices, the Department of Labor and Industries’ prevailing wage program and referrals from other agency programs to locate worksites.
Wyoming uses its access to company-specific workers’ compensation data to determine the impact of an inspection or consultation visit on the company’s injuries. Workers’ compensation claims cover a much broader spectrum of workplace injuries and illnesses than those recorded on the OSHA Form 300. For measurement purposes, the 12-month period before the visit is compared to 12 months after. Three variables are measured in each company: the number of employees, the number of claims filed and the cost of the claims. Essentially, these three indicators measure injury and illness frequency and severity.
In the course of inspections and consultations, the inspector or consultant presents a cost/benefit analysis to the employer. In this analysis, the employer is shown its number of claims reported to Wyoming Workers’ Compensation, the body part injured, the cost of the claims and the amount of money held in reserve for future medical treatment of these claims. Lastly, the employer is shown current and past premium amounts, which are compared to the amount the employer would have paid if it had reported the average number of claims for its standard industrial classification (SIC) code. These two amounts are then compared to the lowest amount the employer would have paid with the least number of claims and/or the lowest claims cost.
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