|February 15, 2010 · Volume 9, Issue 4|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In This Issue
A Feb. 7 gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems power plant in Middletown, Conn., killed five workers and injured 46 others. "The safety and health of workers is of paramount importance to me and to the U.S. Department of Labor," said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Inspectors from OSHA are conducting a comprehensive investigation and are working in cooperation with other agencies.
OSHA rescheduled the "OSHA Listens" public meeting for March 4 because of the recent blizzard in Washington. The meeting's goal is to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. As of Feb. 5, attendance is full and registration is now closed. A Webcast of the meeting will be available from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST. To view, visit the Webcast page.
OSHA fined C.A. Franc construction company $539,000 following the investigation of a roofing worker's fatal 40-foot fall at a Washington, Pa., worksite. The Valencia, Pa.-based roof installer - whose owner is Christopher A. Franc - was cited for 10 per instance willful citations for failing to protect workers from falls. "Mr. Franc knowingly and willfully failed to protect his workers from falling to their deaths," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "We will not tolerate this type of blatant and egregious disregard for the health and safety of workers." To learn more, read the news release.
OSHA announced issuance of contempt of court orders against Brian Andre, former owner of Andre Tuckpointing and Brickwork, Andre Stone and Mason Work Inc. and Regina Shaw, owner of AS&MW, for failing to comply with court orders enforcing citations of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. "Companies that expose employees to hazards, and then blatantly ignore citations requiring correction of those hazards, will not be overlooked," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "Employers must fulfill their responsibility to keep employees safe, as well as satisfy any sanctions levied for failing to do so." Read the news release for more information.
Following a whistleblower investigation, OSHA ordered the Illinois Central Railroad Co. and the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad to pay a former railroad worker more than $80,000 in back wages, compensatory damages and attorney's fees. The worker alleged that the railroads fired him in retaliation for reporting a work-related injury. For more details, read the news release. Visit OSHA's whistleblower protection Web page.
Three Mueller Industries Inc. subsidiaries in Fulton, Miss., were cited with 128 violations and fined $683,000 for exposing workers to a variety of safety and health hazards. OSHA began its investigation in July 2009 after the flammable liquid naphtha leaked from an electric pump and ignited killing one maintenance worker and injuring two other workers. "Mueller Industries subsidiaries' dangerous practices exposed workers at their facilities to a variety of hazards that ultimately took one worker's life," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. "The significant fines of $683,000 cannot replace this worker's life or bring peace to the family, but they will go a long way in letting this employer know disregarding worker safety and health will not be tolerated."
OSHA is proposing to revise its Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting regulation by restoring a column on the OSHA Form 300 to better identify work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The rule does not change existing requirements for when and under what circumstances employers must record musculoskeletal disorders on their injury and illness logs. It would require employers to place a check mark in a column for all MSDs they have recorded. "Restoring the MSD column will improve the ability of workers and employers to identify and prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders by providing simple and easily accessible information," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. "It will also improve the accuracy and completeness of national work-related injury and illness data." For more information, read the news release and Federal Register notice.
OSHA's fiscal 2011 budget calls for $573 million to help OSHA protect more than 100 million workers nationwide. This proposed increase - $14 million over OSHA's current operating budget - includes $4 million to support personnel for developing standards, $7.7 million for federal enforcement, and $1.5 million to support State-operated OSHA programs. The budget also requests $1 million for the On-site Consultation Program that helps small businesses protect workers, and $250,000 for training grants. Read OSHA's budget document for details.
OSHA has made the "Respirator Safety" and "The Difference between Respirators and Surgical Masks" videos available in English and Spanish on the agency's Respiratory Protection Safety and Health Topics Web page and the Department of Labor's YouTube page. Videos show workers how to correctly put on and take off respirators, and explain the difference between respirators and surgical masks.
OSHA developed three new QuickCards™ for protecting workers involved in marine cargo handling operations. Gangway Safety in Marine Cargo Handling lists safety requirements for preventing falls from gangways. First Aid in Marine Cargo Handling explains workplace requirements such as assuring at least one person with a valid first-aid certificate is available at the terminal to provide medical assistance. Additionally, Lifesaving Facilities in Marine Cargo Handling lists safety requirements for lifesaving equipment such as personal flotation devices and stokes basket stretchers, among other equipment. Copies can be ordered online from OSHA's publications Web page.
OSHA is reminding workers that if they suspect working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, they can contact the OSHA office nearest them, or the agency's toll free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Workers can also file a complaint with OSHA if they believe there may be a violation of an OSHA standard at work. Visit OSHA's Contact Us Web page for more information.
Are you interested in a career with DOL? The department has job opportunities throughout the country, such as openings in OSHA for a regulatory specialist and an occupational safety and health investigator.
See DOL's electronic newsletter for more Department of Labor news.