January 15, 2010 · Volume 9, Issue 2
QuickTakes QuickTakes
A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.

In This Issue

National summit addresses workplace safety issues for Latino workers

Registration and hotel information is now available for the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety. The summit is sponsored by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and in partnership with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Attendees at this event, scheduled for April 14-15, 2010, in Houston, will include workers and representatives from employer associations, labor unions, faith community, consulates and non-traditional partners. The summit's goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses among Latino workers by enhancing knowledge of their workplace rights and improving their ability to exercise those rights. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, said the summit will bring together stakeholders from diverse perspectives, shining a spotlight on the hazards and challenges faced by a significant vulnerable sector of our Nation's workforce. "It is my hope that we will begin to craft new strategies to prevent the thousands of injuries and deaths among Latino workers every year," said Michaels.

"OSHA Listens" meeting to solicit comments and suggestions on key issues facing agency

OSHA will host an "OSHA Listens" public meeting Feb. 10 in Washington, D.C., to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. "Public involvement in the government's activities is a priority for this Administration and is important to enhancing OSHA efforts to protect the safety and health of workers," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. For more information on the meeting, attending the meeting or providing written comments, see the news release.

OSHA proposes more than $1.4 million in penalties in connection with fatal explosion

A 45-year-old worker was killed in an explosion when an altered piece of equipment ignited flammable vapors inside a tank he was cleaning. This was the third worker killed in less than a year at one of CES Environmental Services' facilities. OSHA fined CES more than $1.4 million for allowing unsafe electrical equipment use in the presence of flammable and combustible vapors. CES also stored flammable and reactive chemicals together that posed fire and explosion hazards. "It is unfortunate but true that you need a sizable fine to get the attention of employers who don't respect the lives of their employees," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. Read the news release for more information.

Company president forfeits car in whistleblower case

Department of Labor officials and U.S. marshals seized a company president's vehicle after he failed to pay $7,500 is back wages as part of an OSHA whistleblower case. The federal seizure order resolved the lawsuit filed after the company violated whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act by terminating a worker whose complaint was suspected of prompting an OSHA inspection. Read the news release for more details. Visit OSHA's Web site to learn more about whistleblower protection for workers.

OSHA announces informal public hearings on hazard communication rule

OSHA will host informal public hearings on the proposal to align the agency's hazard communication standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The proposed rule will improve the consistency and effectiveness of hazard communications and reduce workers' chemical-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The first hearing will occur March 2 at Labor Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Additional hearings will occur March 31 in Pittsburgh and April 13 in Los Angeles. Locations for these hearings will be provided at a later date. Read the Federal Register notice for details.

OSHA expands its San Antonio Office to better serve workers in central Texas

OSHA elevated its San Antonio office from district to area office status with increased staffing to address the safety and health of high risk construction workers. A particular focus is being given to Latino construction workers, who are at greater risk of being killed or injured in the workplace. San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the United States with a population of more than two million people. Population and business growth prompted OSHA to make this expansion. Texas sees more construction workplace fatalities than any other state. For that reason, OSHA launched a construction safety sweep in Texas in July 2009, increasing the number of inspectors for a concentrated effort to prevent injuries and fatalities at construction sites. To learn more about the office expansion, read the news release.

New OSHA videos provide proper respirator fit and use guidance

OSHA has produced two new videos that feature training and guidance on respirator safety. The "Respirator Safety" video shows healthcare workers how to correctly put on and take off respirators, such as N95s. The "Difference between Respirators and Surgical Masks" video explains the particular uses for each one and how they prevent worker exposure to infectious diseases. Viewers can watch both English and Spanish versions by visiting the Department of Labor's YouTube site. Videos have proven to be useful and have been viewed 2,153 times in only two days.

New publication addresses protecting workers against exposure to hexavalent chromium

Hexavalent chromium is a toxic chemical that can cause cancer and damage to the nose, throat and lungs of workers. The new Hexavalent Chromium booklet explains OSHA's hexavalent chromium standards so that workers and employers know the best ways to prevent illness and death caused by exposure in the workplace. Visit OSHA's publications Web page for more resources on hexavalent chromium and other information on staying safe and healthy on the job.

'QuickTips' for workers on preventing cold-related injuries and illnesses

In light of recent frigid temperatures, OSHA is reminding workers and employers, whose work is concentrated outside, to take the necessary precautions to prevent cold-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA's "Cold Stress Pocket Card" (English/Spanish) provides recommendations on protecting workers in cold environments. For example, take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up. Electronic copies can be downloaded from the agency's publications page, or printed copies can be ordered online or by calling 202-693-1888.

Department of Labor newsletter and job openings

Are you interested in a career with DOL? The department has job opportunities throughout the country, such as openings in OSHA for a budget analyst, industrial hygienist and safety engineer. For more Department of Labor news, see DOL's electronic newsletter.

Editor: Elaine Fraser, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999
For more information on occupational safety and health, visit OSHA's Web site.
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