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  What's Happening?
 

General News
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workplace injuries and illnesses continued a steady decline in 2001. A total of 1.5 million injuries and illnesses in private industry during 2001 required recuperation away from work, a 7.6 percent drop from 2000. The BLS report also highlighted a 9.6 percent decrease in musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses.

  • OSHA's new Special Assistant for Emergency Preparedness, John Ferris, will coordinate the agency's efforts to address emergency preparedness and response in U.S. workplaces. Ferris is a technical expert in chemical emergency preparedness and prevention and served 13 years with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Enforcement
  • OSHA alerted 14,200 employers nationwide that their injury and illness rates are higher than average and that the agency can offer assistance to help lower them. This year marks the first time the construction industry was included in the annual notification.

Standards and Guidance
  • OSHA proposed to revise its commercial diving standard to allow recreational diving instructors and diving guides to use a mixed-gas diving technique as an alternative to an on-site decompression chamber.

  • OSHA is moving forward to revise its crane and derrick standard, using a negotiated rulemaking process. The rulemaking advisory committee is reviewing public comments, which were due March 31.

  • An internal review of OSHA's grain handling facilities standard shows that the standard is saving lives. The regulatory review, completed last month, revealed 70 percent fewer fatalities and 55 percent fewer injuries from grain explosions since the standard took effect in 1987. In addition, grain suffocations decreased by 44 percent.

  • OSHA issued a final rule to protect airline employees against retaliation by air carriers, their contractors, or subsidiaries for providing information to authorities on air carrier safety violations. The rule establishes procedures for handling whistleblower complaints under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century.

  • OSHA is requesting public comment concerning its proposal to extend information collection requirements in general industry and shipyard personal protective equipment standards.

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Partnerships and Alliances

General Industry
DOW Chemical employees
A new alliance with the Dow Chemical Company is focused on safety management of hazardous chemicals and reducing ergonomic injuries.
  • OSHA joined with the Dow Chemical Company in an alliance focused on safety management of hazardous chemicals and reducing ergonomic injuries.

  • Koch Industries, Inc., joined with OSHA in a strategic partnership to expand Koch's safety and health management system at 18 pilot sites and reduce ergonomic-related injuries and illnesses.

  • The Connecticut Healthcare Workers' Compensation Trust is partnering with OSHA improve the safety and health of workers in nursing homes and personal care facilities throughout the state.

  • OSHA's Aurora Area Office and the Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs recently entered into a partnership with the Life Services Network in Illinois. The network represents 300 nonprofit nursing facilities in the state and encompasses 23,000 staff members.

  • The American Apparel and Footwear Association recently signed an alliance with OSHA to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, with a focus on ergonomics.

  • The National Arborist Association and OSHA signed an alliance to stress safety and health efforts for reducing tree service hazards. The alliance will focus on topics such as struck-by prevention, fall protection, and electrical hazards during tree removal.

  • OSHA joined in an alliance with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) to focus on reducing ergonomic injuries in the workplace. The 26,000-member AAOS will contribute its clinical expertise on musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses.

  • OSHA welcomed the first retail group, the International Mass Retail Association, into the alliance program. The alliance will focus on reducing ergonomic injuries for workers in more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers nationwide.

  • The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) entered into an alliance with OSHA focused on preventing ergonomic-related injuries in the workplace. ACOEM brings to the alliance significant medical experience and expertise in identifying and treating musculoskeletal injuries.

Construction
  • OSHA is partnering with AMEC Construction Management, Inc., the Building Trade Employers' Association, and the Building and Construction Trades Council to protect workers during a 30-month renovation project at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
  • Illinois OSHA area offices entered into a partnership with the Residential Construction Employers Council and the Chicago and Northeast Illinois District Council of Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Programs to protect construction workers. More than 200 contractors in a seven-county area of northeastern Illinois are involved, along with the state's Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program.

  • A partnership between OSHA and 27 general contractors in Idaho is credited with dramatically reducing construction injuries and fatalities in the state—from 25 during 1990 to 1995 to three during 2001 and 2002, and by half during the past 10 years.

  • A new partnership between OSHA and Driscoll/Hunt Joint Venture aims to protect construction workers at the new Philadelphia Phillies Ballpark. The project consists of a new 1.1 million-square-foot park featuring a natural grass and dirt field 23 feet below street level.

  • The Georgia branch of the Associated General Contractors joined with OSHA in a statewide partnership to help reduce fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the construction industry. Employers in the program also agreed to train non-English-speaking workers.

  • The Puerto Rico Occupational Safety and Health Office joined with OSHA's New York Regional Office to form a partnership with the Puerto Rico chapter of the Associated General Contractors.

  • The Washington Group International, a 38,000-employee engineering and construction company, and OSHA formed an alliance to improve workplace safety and health related to cranes and rigging, hearing protection, and ergonomics.

  • OSHA's Puerto Rico Area Office entered into a partnership to protect construction workers in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Joining OSHA in the partnership are the Virgin Islands Department of Labor-Division of Occupational Safety and Health; Triangle Construction and Maintenance, Inc.; Hovensa, LLC Refinery; and Our Virgin Islands Labor Union.

  • OSHA is partnering with V&R Drywall, Inc., in El Paso, Texas, to reduce employee injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the construction industry. V&R Drywall is a predominantly Hispanic construction company that employs 83 workers.

Maritime
  • The Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, which represents 30 ship-repair companies, is partnering with OSHA to protect shipyard workers.

  • The Shipbuilders Council of America formalized an alliance with OSHA to help reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the shipyard industry.

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Outreach
  • OSHA launched a new Shipyard Employment electronic training tool (eTool) that focuses on the shipyard standard and ship repair activities. Upcoming eTool additions will address shipbreaking, shipbuilding, and support operations.

  • Another new eTool, on anthrax, is designed to help employers and employees deal with possible workplace exposures to anthrax. The eTool covers the potential impact on the workforce and development and implementation of emergency action plans, complementing the anthrax matrix OSHA developed last year.
  • OSHA's new Oil and Gas Industry eTool focuses on general safety, site preparation, and drilling in the industry to help companies identify and reduce or eliminate workplace hazards. Soon to be added are sections on well completion, servicing, and plugging and abandonment operations.
  • OSHA worked closely with the shipyard community to produce new Maritime Safety and Health Injury Prevention Sheets. The sheets will help employers and workers in the shipyard industry identify and control the most common hazards and sources of injury.

  • OSHA's new "Safety and Health Add Value" brochure (OSHA 3180) describes the agency's message that safety and health add value to businesses, workplaces, and workers' lives. Two new Crystalline Silica Exposure cards are now available in both English and Spanish. The cards cover general industry (OSHA 3176 in English, OSHA 3178 in Spanish) and construction (OSHA 3177 in English, OSHA 3179 in Spanish).

    In addition, new fact sheets cover "Evacuating High-Rise Buildings," "Whistleblowers and Corporate Fraud," and "Whistleblower Protection-General." OSHA also released several revised publications on workplace safety and health: "Asbestos Standards for the Construction Industry" (OSHA 3096) and "Crane or Derrick Suspended Personnel Platforms" (OSHA 3100). JSHQ

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