|February 18, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 4|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
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OSHA published a notice in the Feb. 6 Federal Register rejecting Arizona's residential construction fall protection standard. Arizona is one of 27 states and territories that operate their own occupational safety and health programs. State-run programs are required to be at least as effective as federal OSHA standards. The Arizona state legislature recently passed a statute that requires fall protection – specifically a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system – for fall hazards at a height of 15 feet or greater. Federal OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection whenever workers are exposed to a fall hazard at a height of six feet or more.
Because Arizona's fall protection statute is not as effective as federal OSHA's, the agency has the authority to assume control of the enforcement standards in the state's construction sector. The Federal Register notice stated that OSHA was deferring this action to allow time for the Arizona legislature to repeal its inadequate fall protection provision.
As a result of OSHA's Federal Register notice, Arizona's Department of Occupational Safety and Health took immediate action and deemed the state's inadequate standards automatically repealed. Arizona is now enforcing OSHA's residential construction fall protection requirements and is offering free training classes for affected employers. OSHA will continue to work with the state and monitor its enforcement of the fall protection standard.
Building on its unprecedented participation from last year's event, OSHA has announced this year's Fall Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction, scheduled for May 4-15, 2015. Last year, tens of thousands of employers and more than 1 million workers across the country joined OSHA in a week-long construction Fall Safety Stand-Down, the largest occupational safety event ever hosted in the United States.
"With the economy on the rebound and housing starts on the rise, now is the time to for all of us to renew our commitment to sending workers home safe every night," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Last year's Stand-Down showed us what employers and workers sharing that commitment can accomplish. Responsible employers understand that safety is not a luxury – it is a necessity."
During the 2015 two-week stand-down, employers and workers will pause during their workday to focus on preventing fatalities from falls through talks, demonstrations and trainings.
The National Fall Safety Stand-Down is part of OSHA's construction fall prevention campaign, launched three years ago with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda and CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training. The newly launched 2015 National Safety Stand-Down Web page provides details on how to conduct a stand-down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. See the news release for more information.
Snow and ice create slips, trips and falls hazards for workers. Employers should clear snow and ice from walking surfaces and spread deicer as quickly as possible after a storm. When walking on snow or ice is unavoidable, employers should ensure that workers are equipped with footwear with good traction and insulation. Employers should also instruct workers to take short steps and walk at a slower pace so they can react quickly to a change in traction. See OSHA's Winter Weather Web page for more information on staying safe in cold weather.
OSHA has winter weather resources available to help employers protect outdoor workers exposed to hazards from the cold, such as frostbite and hypothermia. Workers exposed to cold weather can be at risk of frostbite that causes freezing in the deep layers of skin and tissue and can cause permanent damage. Signs of frostbite include a loss of feeling and a waxy-white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, nose or ear lobes. Workers can also be at risk of hypothermia, which occurs when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness and exhaustion. OSHA's Cold Stress QuickCard (PDF-), now available in Spanish (PDF), explains how to protect workers from these life-threatening hazards.
As of Jan. 1, 2015, employers covered by federal OSHA are now required to report work-related fatalities within 8 hours and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.
Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident. The updated reporting requirements have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.
Employers can report these incidents by calling their nearest area office during normal business hours, or the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742). For more information and resources, visit OSHA's Web page on the updated reporting requirements. Soon employers will also be able to report fatalities, injuries and illneses online.
*Employers under federal OSHA's jurisdiction were required to begin reporting by January 1, 2015. Establishments in a state with a state-run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.
OSHA is reminding covered employers to post OSHA's Form 300A, which summarizes the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2014 and were logged on OSHA's Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses. The summary must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2015, and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in specific low-hazard industries are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements.
OSHA found that Formed Fiber Technologies LLC put workers at risk of injuries by not ensuring proper safeguards on machines used at the company's Auburn, Maine manufacturing plant. The plant uses robots and other machines to make carpets and trunk liners for the automotive industry. OSHA cited the company for two repeated and five serious violations of workplace safety with proposed fines of $108,800.
"Formed Fiber Technologies employees in Auburn face the risk of lacerations, crushed fingers, amputation or worse if struck by or caught in unguarded or unexpectedly activated machinery," said Maryann Medeiros, OSHA's area director for Maine. "Some of these hazards are similar to those found in previous OSHA inspections. Formed Fiber is responsible for effectively correcting all of these hazards once and for all."
OSHA found that employees who cleaned water jet cells used in the production process faced potential lacerations, fractures and even death because the jet cells were not powered down and locked to stop them from starting, as required under OSHA's lockout/tagout standard. The company also failed to review a sampling of workers to ensure they understood and followed lockout/tagout requirements. Additional hazards found involved lacerations, finger injuries or amputations from the potential for workers to contact operating parts of looms, a grinder and drill press. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA issued four willful, one serious and two repeat violations to Era Valdivia Contractors Inc. after an inspection found workers were exposed to dangerous lead hazards while sandblasting the steel structure of the Francisco Avenue Bridge in Blue Island, Ill. Lead exposure can cause damage to the central nervous, urinary, blood and reproductive systems. The company faces proposed fines of $287,440.
"OSHA's investigation found that Era Valdivia Contractors had performed tests that indicated dangerous lead exposure in the early stages of the project. The company made a conscious decision not to protect its workers," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Era Valdivia Contractors failed to follow the law and its company policy, putting everyone at risk."
OSHA initiated the inspection under its National Emphasis Program for Lead after observing employees working with lead without personal protective equipment. Willful violations include failing to provide personal protective clothing, clean changing areas and hygiene facilities, such as showers and hand-washing facilities, to prevent lead from traveling home. OSHA also issued a serious violation for failing to provide written notice to an employee who was overexposed to lead. For more information, read the news release.
An OSHA inspection found that permanent and temporary employees at the SCA Inc. facility in Auburn, Ala., were at risk of electrocution, amputation by moving machine parts and dangerous falls while working at the automobile parts manufacturer. SCA manufactures auto parts, such as blowers, heaters and evaporators for Hyundai, Kia and Ford Motor Co. Liberty Staffing provides about 115 employees to SCA. OSHA cited SCA Inc. and Liberty Staffing LLC for 21 safety violations. Proposed penalties for the two companies total $158,020.
"Host employers, as well as the temporary staffing agencies, have the responsibility to protect their employees from being exposed to hazards in the workplace and should not wait for an OSHA inspection to identify safety and health deficiencies," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile.
OSHA issued repeated citations to SCA for exposing workers to falls of up to 10 feet while working on a platform without a ladder access gate or chain guard, failing to reduce the compressed air for cleaning to 30 pounds per square inch, not having standard railings installed on open-sided floors or platforms and exposing workers to shock from live electrical parts. SCA was also cited for exposing employees to accidental machine startup from potential stored energy while servicing or conducting maintenance activities. Both companies received serious citations for allowing workers to operate the injection molding machine without protection; not securing gas cylinders to prevent them from being knocked over; and failing to provide a functional eye and body wash station. For more information, read the news release.
Lane Plating Works Inc. was cited for 21 violations and proposed fines of $110,200 after an OSHA inspection found the company exposed workers to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen that can cause serious long-term health issues including lung cancer and kidney failure. The owner of the Dallas-based chrome plating shop was made aware of the presence of the dangerous toxin through air-monitoring tests, but he failed to correct the hazard.
"Workers had dangerous chemical residue on their clothing and labored in areas where unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium dust were found on work surfaces," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "By failing to address these hazards, Lane Plating Works' endangered the health and well-being of its employees and their families who were exposed when their loved ones came home with contaminated clothing."
The company was cited for two willful and 19 serious violations including failing to use controls to reduce employee exposure to hexavalent chromium and to monitor the chemical periodically, and failing to institute controls to reduce and maintain levels of hexavalent chromium below the permissible exposure limits and train workers on the chemical's hazards. OSHA initiated the complaint inspection under its National Emphasis Program for Hexavalent Chromium (PDF*). For more information, read the news release.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have jointly issued a hazard alert (PDF) about protecting workers from significant crystalline silica exposure during manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured stone countertops.
Workers who inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at risk for silicosis – an incurable, progressively disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. Symptoms of silicosis can include shortness of breath, cough and fatigue, and may or may not be obviously attributable to silica. Workers exposed to airborne crystalline silica also are at increased risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.
OSHA and NIOSH have identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in stone countertop operations, both in fabrication shops and during in-home finishing/installation. The alert explains how this hazard can be mitigated with simple and effective dust controls. See the news release for more information.
OSHA has released a Safety and Health Information Bulletin warning of hazardous exposure to chemical fumigants used in insect control in stored grain. The use of chemical fumigants can result in hazardous exposures to workers involved in the handling of both fumigants and treated grain. An upsurge in insect infestations and the movement of stored grain have contributed to the need for increased fumigation, putting exposed workers at increased risk. The toxic effects of these fumigants can include permanent central nervous system damage, heart and vascular disease, lung edema and cancer.
The bulletin outlines the exposure risks and provides employers with measures to take in evaluating grain handling facilities and transit carriers, such as truck trailers, railroad cars and barges. See the bulletin for more information.
OSHA unveiled a redesigned Whistleblower Protection page that is more user-friendly and features improved navigability that makes it easier to find program information and resources.
The redesign effort is part of OSHA's continuing efforts to strengthen its outreach and provide thorough and accessible information to the public.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health Feb. 24-25 in Washington, D.C.. Work groups will meet Feb. 24 and the full committee will meet Feb. 25.
The agenda includes maritime-related OSHA alliances, updates from OSHA directorates, use of liquefied natural gas as a fuel in the maritime industry, and reports from the Longshoring and Shipyard work groups. MACOSH meetings are open to the public. Individuals may submit comments and requests to speak at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use tool to help you demonstrate the impact of workplace injuries and illnesses on your company's profitability, check out the recently updated OSHA Safety Pays Program. This program uses a company's profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need to covers those costs.
OSHA recently updated the program to include more recent workers' compensation data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The program is now available in a format that can be easily read by mobile devices. For more information on the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses, and the benefits of investing in workplace safety and health, see OSHA's Business Case for Safety and Health page and a blog from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
The American Staffing Association has launched a new Web page dedicated to temporary worker safety entitled "Safety Matters: Keeping Temporary Workers Safe on the Job." It includes various safety resources and links to OSHA publications, and prominently features two videos – one with the remarks by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, and a second one featuring several ASA board members addressing the importance of temporary worker safety.
This ASA web page complements OSHA's own page, "Protecting Temporary Workers," which consolidates the agency's safety and health resources for temporary workers including "Recommended Practices: Protecting Temporary Workers."
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