Back to 2009 OSHSPA Report
New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (NM OHSB)
Workplace violence: New Mexico experienced a high number of violent crimes at convenience stores during the late 1990s. OHSB's review of these incidents revealed deficiencies in training and other late-night security measures that may have contributed to employee vulnerability. Because of the difficulty in citing store owners under the general duty clause, OHSB began a process in 2003 to draft state occupational health and safety regulations for convenience stores. To support the need for new regulations, OHSB studied convenience store crime rates in six major New Mexico cities between 1998 and 2002 and presented the data to the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) along with proposed rules. The rules were based on a 1998 publication by federal OSHA titled Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention in Late-Night Retail Establishments.
In June 2004, convenience store regulations 11.5.6 NMAC were announced providing security for exterior lighting, employee training, late-night measures, store signs, surveillance systems, alarm systems, and cash management. OHSB used direct mailings, personal visits to convenience store owners, and town hall meetings to raise industry awareness of the new standards.
OHSB performed a follow-up study to determine the effectiveness of the new standards; the study covered the same six cities for 2005-2007. The table (left) shows the annual average number of incidents before and after the regulations and emphasis programs.
The dramatic decrease in the number of reported crimes at convenience stores demonstrates striking positive outcomes from these initiatives. Convenience store employees in New Mexico now have a much safer environment in which to work.
On Oct. 13, 2007, a crew of six United Drilling, Inc. employees began moving one of the company's self-propelled drilling rigs to a new location. The route from the old site to the new site was along a dirt road in a remote area of the Permian Basin. Soon the crew encountered overhead power lines that were lower than the height of the mobile rig. A 17-year-old employee grabbed a wooden survey marker from the side of the road, climbed onto the rig, and attempted to raise the first of the three power lines to allow the rig to pass under. The crew supervisor signaled the driver to slowly move forward and the young crew member contacted current passing from the 14,400-volt line to ground. He lost consciousness and fell into the rig mast.
Co-workers immediately climbed onto the rig, lowered him into the bed of a pickup truck, and administered CPR. Emergency responders met the crew and pronounced him dead shortly thereafter.
Following an extensive investigation, OHSB cited United Drilling, Inc. for three willful violations of OSHA electrical standard 29 CFR 1910.333(c), with proposed penalties totaling $168,000. The company contested the citations and penalties; settlement discussions did not resolve the issue and the case is awaiting a hearing before the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission.
In January 2007, the driver of a municipal solid waste collection vehicle was killed when he entered the hopper of the side-loader to remove debris that prevented the compactor blade from operating properly. The driver failed to turn off the truck's ignition before entering the hopper and when the debris was removed the blade activated and crushed him.
Following this incident, OHSB initiated a local emphasis program to address high injury and illness rates in the solid waste collection industry. In addition, OHSB formed a work group with the state Solid Waste Bureau that included representatives of the New Mexico Municipal League, the New Mexico Association of Counties, and Waste Management of New Mexico. The group worked to raise the level of safety awareness in the industry and to educate solid waste managers, supervisors, and employees about safety requirements and best practices. A one-day workshop for approximately 50 participants from around the state addressed all aspects of solid waste safety. The New Mexico Municipal League also invited OHSB to give a presentation at its annual conference of municipal leaders to reinforce the importance of management commitment to safe and healthful public sector workplaces.
OHSB staff also present the safety segment of operator certification training, which is required by state regulation for employees and supervisors of solid waste landfills, transfer stations, recycling facilities, and composting facilities.
The goal of OHSB's seven-year-old partnership with the Associated General Contractors is to "mutually recognize the importance of providing a safe and healthful working environment for New Mexico's construction workforce" as shown in the following activities: