Back to 2009 OSHSPA Report
Alaska - Occupational Safety and Health (AKOSH)
Young workers: Federal fiscal year 2008 was the first full year of the youth education and outreach program – AKOSH’s focus is on delivering training to youth and other workers in vocational education programs. Also, more than 50 students attended a half-day youth safety and health training program at the 2008 Governor’s Safety and Health Conference and the response was tremendous. Since then, the AKOSH youth training coordinator has presented to hundreds of high school age and younger students across Alaska. One of the program’s goals is to develop a curriculum acceptable to the Department of Education so that teachers can include training in their lesson plans and expose every student in Alaska to workplace safety and health concepts.
Crane operation: AKOSH put together information for legislation that would require crane operators to be certified and licensed before operating a crane. The legislation, which had one hearing, will get more work between legislative sessions.
Construction, transportation, and warehousing: Federal fiscal year 2008 was the final year in AKOSH’s fiveyear strategic plan targeting construction, transportation, and warehousing industries. Fatalities fell 41 percent compared to the previous five-year period while lost-time injuries and illnesses fell 51 percent in construction and 15 percent in transportation and warehousing.
Process safety management: AKOSH did not adopt the national emphasis program on process safety management in refineries; however, AKOSH did do PSM inspections at the two major refineries in its jurisdiction. Although one inspection included assistance from a federal OSHA PSM expert, AKOSH is committed to ensuring that compliance safety and health officers (CSHO) are qualified to perform PSM inspections of oil and gas facilities and seafood processing plants with large ammonia refrigeration systems.
Construction: Due to Alaska’s geography – minimal infrastructure and limited road access – a construction targeting system was developed to improve the quality of inspections in remote communities. The targeting system uses data from public construction project databases maintained by the Wage and Hour Administration. Certified payrolls submitted by contractors working on these projects make it easier to plan inspections during periods of peak construction activity or particularly hazardous phases such as excavation and roofing. CSHOs use this system along with “plans room” and “drive-by” methods to ensure that enforcement inspection trips have the most impact. The targeting system has improved inspection results and helped to limit the impact of the high cost of travel to Alaska’s rural areas.
Reporting: Staff turnover reduced the number of inspections in federal fiscal year 2008 as new CSHOs were hired and trained. Although the number of inspections fell, the quality of reports and supporting documentation has improved because new CSHOs receive the best training available from the OSHA Training Institute and AKOSH.
Fall protection: An employer was cited for three willful violations, one serious violation, and one other-thanserious violation in a case involving a worker who fell from a raised personnel work platform and had permanent brain damage. The employer agreed to pay a reduced fine of $45,000 to resolve the citations. This investigation was unusual because an AKOSH consultatant stopped at the site just before the accident to follow up on a request for consultation services. However, the foreman refused the visit because the project was almost complete. The consultant noticed the personnel platform and told the foreman that it should not be used because it did not appear to meet the standards. The foreman said the platform would not be used, but used it anyway.
Media: AKOSH began a radio and television campaign to promote safe, healthy jobs and focus attention on workplace hazards. The purpose of the campaign was to encourage interest among Alaskans, improve attitudes, and enhance the safety and health culture in Alaska. Advertisements ran throughout the state, generating significant interest and consultation requests.
Conferences: The 2008 annual Governor’s Safety and Health Conference was extremely successful – 80 percent of participants said they would return in 2009. Attendees took advantage of dozens of safety and health training topics. In a pilot project, more than 50 high school students attended a half-day of youth-oriented safety training. Response from the students and teachers was tremendous and the program will be part of future conferences.
Public sector: AKOSH has entered public sector partnerships with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and the Municipality of Anchorage. In the past year, these employers reported significant reductions in accident costs, higher employee morale, and increased productivity. Those interested in the AKOSH Partnership Program should call Krystyna Markiewicz at 907-269-4957.
VPP and SHARP: AKOSH had 15 VPP sites and 16 SHARP sites in federal fiscal year 2008, which exceeded the five-year goal for VPP by 350 percent and by 25 percent for SHARP. AKOSH is focused on quality rather than quantity as reflected by extremely large VPP sites such as the entire Kuparuk oil field, which could have been broken into many smaller sites.