Back to 2009 OSHSPA Report
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA)
Violence against health care employees: In 2007, the Oregon Legislature required Oregon OSHA to create a form so that hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers could record assaults against their employees. Employers had to complete the forms during the 2008 calendar year and return them to Oregon OSHA. In 2009, Oregon OSHA presented the findings to the Legislature.
Of the 1,061 assaults reported during 2008, 99 percent occurred in hospitals, 50 percent in behavioral health and psychiatric units, 13 percent in medical and surgical units, and 11 percent in emergency rooms. Most assailants were patients. Reasons for assaults included "behavioral health patient" (32 percent); "history of violence" (26 percent); and "emotional problems" (19 percent). Most victims were certified nursing assistants, orderlies, or aides (42 percent) and nurses (32 percent). Most assaults resulted in minor injuries, which would not be reported under other recordkeeping requirements.
Facilities will continue to track assaults, develop assault prevention plans, and train employees in assault prevention, but they will not report data to Oregon OSHA.
Youth video project: The first Young Worker Video Contest was organized by the Oregon Young Worker Health and Safety Coalition and was supported through donations from supporters in the health and safety industry. The coalition, which formed in 2007, includes government, industry, and schools working to raise awareness about young-worker health and safety issues and to strengthen child labor laws.
The video contest was open to all Oregon high school students and required a 30-second public service announcement with the theme: "Save a friend. Work safe." Twelve videos were submitted and all had safety messages aimed at teens. Although the committee planned to honor three winners, four were chosen for the quality of their submissions. Winners earned cash prizes from $200-$400 and plaques for their schools. The four videos were shown at the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference in March and were presented at select Oregon theatres in June.
Pesticides: Oregon OSHA's pesticide emphasis program [PDF - 48 KB] applies to workplaces where pesticides are used, stored, or manufactured. The following industrial classifications are included in the program:
Scissor lift incident: About 8 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2008, an unattended scissor lift crashed through a cable guardrail and fell 20 stories from a high-rise building under construction, crashing onto the street below. The lift landed in the traffic lane nearest the building that had been closed for a truck to unload. On its way down, the lift hit formwork on the side of the building, sending shards of debris down with enough force to penetrate the canopy of the construction elevator, which carried workers up and down the building. Miraculously, no one was hurt in the incident.
How the incident happened: Three workers on the 20th and 21st floors were preparing to attach fall protection anchor straps to a column at the building's edge. They intended to use the lift to reach the height necessary to attach the straps. A worker on the 21st floor tossed the straps down to the floor below where the scissor lift was parked. The straps caught on the lift's control stick and pressed the enabler button – a safety device that must be pressed before the lift will operate. The lift took off on its own power, crashed through a guardrail, and rolled off the building. Just before the lift reached the edge, one of the workers tried to reach the controls and narrowly escaped being pulled over, too.
Investigation findings: Had the scissor lift been properly shut down, the incident would not have occurred. Also, the main power disconnect was not used to disable the machine while it was unattended and none of the workers had read the manufacturer's operating manual, which described proper steps for shut down.
Woodpecker Truck and Equipment, Inc.: In October 2008, a diesel mechanic died following a flash fire inside a 4,500-gallon water tender truck. Oregon OSHA investigated the accident and found violations of the agency's welding and respiratory protection rules.
How the incident happened: The mechanic had begun the work two days before the accident, welding reinforcements into two baffle plates inside the vehicle's water tank. The day before the accident there was an acetylene flare up from the hose near the cutting torch and he replaced the hose fittings and flash-back arrestors and continued working. He left the equipment in the tank when he finished for the day. The next day, 20 minutes after the start of the shift, there was a flash fire in the tank. Rescuers found the mechanic near the access port; cause of death was
asphyxiation due to inhalation of super-heated gases.
Investigation findings: The cause of the accident was highly enriched oxygen in the tank (between 52 percent and 65 percent) probably due to a leak through the torch. In addition:
Vehicle safety: In October 2007, Oregon OSHA began evaluating employers' motor vehicle safety programs during comprehensive enforcement inspections. Employers who request consultations are also encouraged to have Oregon OSHA's consultants evaluate their motor vehicle safety programs. The evaluation includes a review of recent vehicle incidents and the employer's motor vehicle safety policies and procedures. The information will be used to identify trends and gauge the effectiveness of the employer's vehicle safety program. Oregon OSHA will evaluate all the program data and determine what the next steps will be at the end of this federal fiscal year.
Firefighters: After a 2005 accident involving emergency responders, Oregon OSHA brought together industry representatives from the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association (OFCA), the Oregon Fire Instructors Association, the Oregon Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and a Fire Fighter Advisory group to discuss a proposed a confined space rule in the Oregon Rules for Fire Fighters (437-002-0182).
At an October 2007 public hearing, the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO), the Oregon Fire District Directors Association (OFDDA), and the OFCA opposed changes to the rule. Oregon OSHA took the comments seriously and worked with the groups to revise the proposal. In addition, OFCA and Oregon OSHA signed an agreement to build on their informal working relationship and establish a formal safety and health partnership. Oregon OSHA also formed an internal group to revise the proposal and address the concerns expressed at the hearing. With the help of the OFCA, Oregon OSHA held external meetings with the chiefs and other representatives of SDAO and OFDDA. In June 2009, Oregon OSHA submitted a new proposal for a confined space rule with the comment period ending June 8.
Oregon Home Builders Association: Oregon OHSA and the Oregon Home Builders Association signed a formal alliance in April 2008. The alliance increases outreach to employers and employees in the residential construction industry with a goal of reducing injuries and increasing awareness of fall and motor vehicle hazards.
Oregon Restaurant Association alliance: Oregon OSHA and the Oregon Restaurant Association formed an alliance in September 2008. The goal of the alliance is to increase awareness of hazards involving hazard communication, electrical contacts, ergonomics, personal protective equipment, and slips and falls. The alliance agreed to share industry best practices, ergonomic concerns, and injury prevention strategies, focusing on young workers and the mobile work force.
Oregon Coalition for Healthcare Ergonomics: The Oregon Coalition for Healthcare Ergonomics (OCHE) includes the following organizations:
Young workers: Oregon OSHA is a member of the Oregon Young Worker Health and Safety Coalition whose goal is to educate teens, parents, and employers about hazards facing young workers. One example of the coalition's work is NIOSH's Youth@Work: Talking Safety curriculum for classrooms and other group-training settings. The coalition is working with trainers, including one at Oregon OSHA, to provide workshops to educators with the goal of including Talking Safety in school curriculums.
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