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What's Happening?
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Standards and Guidance
  • Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao appointed 15 experts from industry, academia, labor, legal, and the medical professions to form OSHA's National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics. The committee met Jan. 22 to advise OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw on issues related to reducing ergonomic-related injuries in the workplace.
  • OSHA is soliciting comments and information to help the agency determine the best way to address occupational exposure to beryllium through Feb. 24.
  • Work on a proposed standard on occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium is under way at OSHA. Occupational use of the metal has been associated with lung cancer and other respiratory problems.
  • The comment period on a proposed standard to protect shipyard workers from fire hazards ends March 10. The proposed standard would cover almost 100,000 workers at more than 700 establishments.
  • OSHA revamped its 30-year-old standard dealing with exit routes, emergency action, and fire prevention plans. The revised standard, which took effect Dec. 7, provides clear, consistent, up-to-date information in simple, straightforward language.
  • OSHA clarified three issues related to occupational hearing loss in the final rule published last July. The issues deal with audiometric tests for workers in the shipbuilding industry, computation of a standard threshold shift, and a potential increase in hearing loss cases due to new recordkeeping requirements.
  • Public comments on proposed improvements to 23 health standards were due Jan. 30. OSHA is reviewing the comments under the second phase of the agency's standards improvement project.

Partnerships and Alliances

  • Small Business Administration entered into a new partnership to help small businesses reduce ergonomic injuries. The partners will establish an inform-ation sharing process to distribute ergonomics program information to small businesses.
  • The American Society of Safety Engineers and OSHA formed an alliance with a focus on reducing and preventing ergonomic hazards and improving workplace ergonomic programs.
  • OSHA entered into an alliance with the American Meat Institute to help protect meat industry workers from exposure to ergonomic hazards.
  • OSHA entered into a collaborative effort to reduce ergonomic hazards for airline industry workers involved in handling passenger-checked baggage. The new alliance includes OSHA, 13 airlines, and the International Air Transport Section of the National Safety Council.

OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw, right, shakes hands Thomas H. Zarges, Senior Executive Vice President and COO for Washington Group International, as OSHA and Washington Group International representatives celebrate a new alliance focused on cranes and rigging, hearing protection, and ergonomics.

  • 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.
General Industry
  • Illinois OSHA area offices and the state's Onsite Safety and Health Consultation Program are partnering with the Illinois Small Business Development Center Network to address safety and health issues in small business.
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  • OSHA released several revised publications: "Construction Industry Digest" (OSHA 2202); "Hearing Conservation" (OSHA 3074); "Respiratory Protection" (OSHA 3079); "Asbestos Standard for the Construction Industry" (OSHA 3096); and "Crane or Derrick Suspended Personnel Platforms" (OSHA 3100). All are posted on the agency website at www.osha.gov.
  • Four new fact sheets on workplace safety and health topics are now available on the OSHA website at
    www.osha.gov. The fact sheets are "Farm Safety," "Rights of Trucking Employees Involved in Safety Activities," "Variances from OSHA Standards," and "Fire Safety in the Workplace."
  • A new online tool helps employers and workers in the maritime cargo handling industry recognize and control hazards commonly experienced in longshoring and marine terminal operations. The hazard and abatement summaries are available online at www.osha.gov.
  • Two new eTools are now posted on the OSHA website to help reduce workplace injuries and illnesses. The eTools, "Legionnaires' Disease" and "Lead: Secondary Lead Smelter," can be found at www.osha.gov. JSHQ

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