March 1, 2004 · Volume 3, Issue 5
A bi-weekly e-news memo with information, updates, and results from OSHA about safety and health in America's workplaces.
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive
NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.


In This Issue
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Testifies on FY2005 Budget
OSHA Alerts 13,000 Employers about High Injury and Illness Rates
Safe Storage of Concrete Panels Subject of Safety and Health Bulletin
New Fact Sheet on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Published
OSHA Schedules Meetings to Discuss Noise/Hearing Issues for Construction Workers
Five More Organizations Sign National Alliances with OSHA
List of Low-Hazard Industries Exempt from Programmed Inspections Remains Unchanged
New Partnerships in Kansas City, Chicago Regions
OSHA Administrator Joins NIOSH Director at AIHA's Ohio Valley Section Event
Alliances for Gas/Oil Industry Workers, Youth Workers Formed in Baton Rouge, New York
OSHA Approves Amendments to Safety and Health Standards Submitted by Oregon OSHA
Compliance Assistance Information on OSHA's Website
OSHA Joins Forces with ISEA at World of Concrete 2004 Exposition
Voluntary Protection Program Activity


Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Testifies on FY2005 Budget
     Joining four of his Labor Department counterparts, OSHA Administrator John Henshaw told Congressional leaders that the "past 12 months have been a productive time for OSHA," and that the agency's reputation "has been enhanced by its accomplishments" citing, most importantly, its role in helping to reduce workplace injury and illness rates. Henshaw testified Feb. 26, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The President is requesting $461.6 million for OSHA during FY2005.

OSHA Alerts 13,000 Employers about High Injury and Illness Rates
     Approximately 13,000 employers recently received a letter from OSHA Administrator John Henshaw alerting them that their injury and illness rates are above average, and that the agency can offer help in lowering them. The notifications were based on data reported by approximately 80,000 employers surveyed by OSHA last year (the survey collected injury and illness data from CY2002). Henshaw said the notification process "is a tremendous opportunity for employers to take steps to improve workplace safety and health and create value for their organization."

Safe Storage of Concrete Panels Subject of Safety and Health Bulletin
    OSHA's Denver Area Office recently investigated a fatal accident after precast concrete panels tipped over at a concrete panel manufacturing facility. The investigation determined the panels were partially due to improper storage procedures for the size and configuration of the panels, some weighing in excess of 13 tons each. A Precast Concrete Panels-Hazardous Storage Safety and Health Information Bulletin was published last month to alert manufacturers of the dangers involved in improper storage procedures and inadequate finger rack storage systems for the panels. The bulletin provides employers with recommendations and methods that will improve finger rack stability and reduce hazards to workers.

New Fact Sheet on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Published
     OSHA recently published a new fact sheet on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, commonly known as SARS, a severe viral illness first reported in Asia more than a year ago. OSHA developed an information page on its website last year; the new fact sheet supplements that information with an updated overview of worker protection issues, including workplace policies and procedures, and more details on protective equipment and respirator considerations for healthcare facilities.

OSHA Schedules Meetings to Discuss Noise/Hearing Issues for Construction Workers
    The Embassy Suites Hotel in Rosemont, IL, is the site of two stakeholder meetings this month on reducing noise exposures and hearing loss of workers in the construction industry. On Mar. 24-25, interested members of the public will discuss exposure monitoring, audiometric testing and portability of records. The meetings are a continuation of the agency's information gathering process that began Aug. 5, 2002, when OSHA published its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking comments on whether a hearing conservation program to the construction noise standard should be added. Details on the meetings are in the Feb. 24, 2004 Federal Register.

Five More Organizations Sign National Alliances with OSHA
    OSHA welcomed five more professional organizations and associations as Alliance participants last month. The Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair (CCAR) and the National Telecommunications Safety Panel (NTSP) joined with the agency to focus on ergonomics issues. Forklift safety and hazard communication is highlighted in the Alliance signed with the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), while bloodborne pathogens and patient-handling hazards is at the center of the agreement with the Association of Occupational Health Professionals (AOHP). Finally, the 6,000-member strong Health Physics Society's (HPS) Alliance will highlight safety and health issues for workers exposed to radiological hazards.

List of Low-Hazard Industries Exempt from Programmed Inspections Remains Unchanged
    OSHA announced last month that it will continue to exempt from programmed safety inspections the same low-hazard industries listed last year. That exemption is for industries with lost workday injury (LWDI) rates below 2.6 for 2001. The list, traditionally revised each year with the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was not updated this year due to changes in OSHA's recordkeeping rule. OSHA is taking steps to advise Congress of the changes in the published rates (BLS now publishes Days Away from Work, Restricted Work Activity, or Job Transfer (DART) instead of LWDI rates). OSHA is proposing a modification to the language in its appropriation bill that will permit use of DART data.

New Partnerships in Kansas City, Chicago Regions
    Improving safety and health for workers in the contract cleaning industry and on construction sites is the focus of two recent partnerships. The Omaha, NE Area Office signed an agreement with a group of Nebraska companies to reduce exposure to hazards for workers who provide cleaning services for most of the state's meatpacking and processing facilities. OSHA's Chicago Region signed a partnership Feb. 25 with the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Wisconsin, part of the Construction Health and Safety Excellence (CHASE) program. The focus of that agreement is to reduce hazards associated with the four leading causes of fatal accidents on construction sites: falls, struck by objects, workers caught in or between objects, and electrocutions.

OSHA Administrator Joins NIOSH Director at AIHA's Ohio Valley Section Event
    "The Future of Occupational Health and Safety in the United States" is the topic of a special dinner meeting hosted by the Ohio Valley Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) scheduled for March 23 in Cincinnati. John Henshaw, OSHA Administrator and John Howard, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, are the evening's keynote speakers.

Alliances for Gas/Oil Industry Workers, Youth Workers Formed in Baton Rouge, New York
    OSHA's Baton Rouge, LA Area Office formed an alliance with the Gulf Coast Safety and Training Group (GCS&TG) to further safety and health for Louisiana's oil and gas industry workers. GCS&TG is a 367-member organization of oil and gas industry employers mainly in southern Louisiana. Young workers in New York and New Jersey stand to benefit from an Alliance signed between area offices throughout the New York Region and YouthBuild, USA, a national support center and intermediary for the YouthBuild movement that helps low-income young people. The local organization includes 20 locations serving more than 600 low-income youths. Joining in the Alliance is both the New York and New Jersey State Department of Labor's Consultation Programs.

OSHA Approves Amendments to Safety and Health Standards Submitted by Oregon OSHA
    Amendments to 18 standards adopted by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (Oregon OSHA) have been approved by OSHA. The amendments, which differ from OSHA's standards but have been found to be "at least as effective," include bloodborne pathogens, construction, material handling, personal protective equipment, powered industrial trucks, and telecommunications, among others. Oregon was approved as a State Plan State in 1972. States that operate their own federally-approved OSHA program can adopt safety and health standards identical to federal ones or set their own standards that are at least as effective as comparable federal standards. Notice of the approval is scheduled to be published in today's Federal Register.

Compliance Assistance Information on OSHA's Website
    Need help finding information and resources to comply with OSHA's requirements? How about a quick resource guide for all OSHA's cooperative programs? Then you might want to consider making the agency's Compliance Assistance webpage one of your top bookmarks. From there, you can navigate to compliance assistance resources and detailed information on cooperative programs, obtain a quick education on the Occupational Safety and Health Act, access numerous links on the Department of Labor's webpage, and utilize the agency's newest assistance tool called Quick Start that includes fact sheets, publications, forms, other electronic tools, and step-by-step guides and sample programs.

OSHA Joins Forces with ISEA at World of Concrete 2004 Exposition
    As part of an Alliance signed with the International Safety Equipment Association last September, OSHA joined forces with them at the World of Concrete 2004 exposition in Orlando, FL, last month to stress safety and health issues to thousands of concrete and masonry construction leaders. OSHA representatives manned the Association's "Safety Station" sharing construction safety information and answered safety and health-related questions.

Voluntary Protection Program Activity
    The following companies were approved last month for new or continued participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP): Region I: Huntsman Polyurethanes, Derry, NH (New Star); Covanta Mid-Conn, Inc., Hartford, CT (New Star) Region II: Torcon, Inc., Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank, NJ (New Star); Entergy Northeast Nuclear, James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant, Lycoming, NY (New Star); Lucent Technologies Bell Innovations, Crawford Hills Laboratories, Holmdel, NJ (Cont. Star); American Ref-Fuel of Essex, Newark, NJ (Cont. Star); Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors, Syracuse, NY (Cont. Star); Torcon Inc.'s New Jersey Dental School Project, Newark, NJ (New Star Demo) Region VI: International Paper, Pine Bluff Woodyard, Pine Bluff, AR (New Star); Pactiv Advanced Packaging Solutions, Coricana, TX (New Star); Dell, Inc. Round Rock Building One, Round Rock, TX (New Star); Phelps Dodge Refining Corp., El Paso, TX (New Star); Dell, Inc., Round Rock Building Three, Round Rock, TX (New Star); Phelps Dodge Copper Products Co., El Paso, TX (New Star); DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations, Hackberry, LA (Cont. Star); International Paper, New Boston Lumber Mill, New Boston, TX (Cont. Star); Morningstar Foods, Sulphur Springs, TX (New Star); and Region VII: Citizens Memorial Healthcare Facility, Bolivar, MO (Cont. Star).

Editor: Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999