|April 1, 2016 · Volume 15, Issue 9||
OSHA held a public event on March 24 at the International Masonry Institute in Bowie, Md., to announce a final rule to protect workers by reducing their exposure to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers.
The event was attended by more than 200 people, including several victims of silica-related diseases. Speakers included U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and Tom Ward, whose father died of silicosis. Later, attendees were able to watch apprentice bricklayers demonstrate cutting and drilling equipment that uses water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to remove it from the air.
The final rule contains two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both standards reduce the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica and include employer requirements to protect workers, such as by limiting worker exposure through work practices and engineering controls; training workers; limiting their access to high exposure areas and providing medical exams to highly exposed workers.
The U.S. Department of Labor and Dover Greens LLC, formerly known as Olivet Management LLC, have reached a settlement agreement in which the company will provide enhanced safeguards for workers renovating a former psychiatric center in Dover Plains, N.Y. The real estate development and management company received several violations from OSHA in 2014 for exposing workers to lead and asbestos hazards during renovation and cleanup operations.
Requirements of the settlement include: retaining a general contractor and a qualified safety consulting firm to monitor and control lead and asbestos hazards on the site; ensuring that contractors and subcontractors are trained to perform their jobs; and not disputing workers' compensation claims for illnesses resulting from lead or asbestos exposure. Dover Greens will pay $700,000 in fines over 10 years. If the company fails to comply, it will be required to pay the entire proposed fine of $2.3 million. For more information, read the news release.
Despite a corporate-wide settlement agreement with OSHA, Walmart continued to put the safety and health of its workers at risk. A recent inspection of a Walmart Supercenter in Pensacola, Fla., found health violations such as failing to: provide workers with Hepatitis B vaccinations; train workers directed to clean up blood spills on the dangers of bloodborne pathogens; and protect workers from exposure to shock and burn hazards. The company received $118,800 in proposed penalties. Read the news release for more information.
Workers involved in the meat and poultry processing industries are likely to suffer more serious on-the-job injuries than other private sector workers.
OSHA launched a Regional Emphasis Program in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri focused on reducing musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors in the poultry processing industry. The agency has also launched a Local Emphasis Program for Nebraska's meat processing industry. Education and enforcement efforts will focus on common industry hazards such as repetitive motion injuries, machine guarding, control of hazardous energy and process safety management. Both emphasis programs are scheduled to end Sept. 30, 2016.
Regional and local emphasis programs are enforcement strategies designed to address high-risk industries.
Roofing company owner James J. McCullagh was sentenced March 29 in federal court to 10 months in prison and two years of probation, for four counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of willfully violating an OSHA regulation. As previously reported in QuickTakes, McCullagh pled guilty in December 2015 to criminal charges stemming from a 2014 incident where a worker who was not provided with fall protection fell 45 feet to his death while performing roofing repairs on a church in Philadelphia.
"No penalty can bring back the life of this employee, but the outcome in this case will send a clear message," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels in a statement when McCullough entered his guilty plea.
Utah Occupational Safety and Health issued John Kuhni Sons Inc., $76,250 in fines following a September 2015 incident in which a worker was caught in an uncovered rotating augur and suffered amputation of his lower legs. The animal rendering plant was cited for knowingly allowing workers to operate hazardous machinery without the proper machine guarding.
California OSHA fined ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company in Torrance $72,120 after determining that the company took four years to repair faulty equipment, exposing workers to possible serious injury or death. Inspectors discovered that a temporary clamp installed in 2011 to prevent chemical leaks was not replaced until January 2016. Previously Cal/OSHA issued ExxonMobil 19 citations with proposed fines totaling $566,600 after a February 2015 explosion that injured four workers. For more information, read the Cal/OSHA news release*.
Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.
OSHA has published two more whistleblower protection rules to ensure that workers are protected when they voice concerns about workplace violations of federal law.
A recently published interim final rule establishes procedures for handling complaints of worker retaliation under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. MAP-21 protects workers in automobile manufacturing, part supplies and car dealerships who have been discharged or otherwise retaliated against for informing their employer or the Secretary of Transportation about motor vehicle defects or violations of motor vehicle safety standards. The interim final rule became effective March 16, 2016. OSHA invites the public to submit comments on this rule by May 16; to learn how, see the Federal Register notice. An OSHA fact sheet* provides additional details.
OSHA has also issued a final rule establishing procedures for handling whistleblower retaliation complaints under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010. Section 1057 of the CFPA protects workers against retaliation for reporting potential violations of consumer financial protection laws. The rule implements statutory requirements created by Congress and creates no new obligations for employers or employees.
OSHA has scheduled a meeting of the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee for April 25-26 in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes remarks from OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels; MaryAnn Garrahan, director of the Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs; and representatives from federal agencies with whistleblower programs. Also scheduled are a presentation from railroad industry whistleblowers and public comments.
OSHA will hold a special meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health to discuss a draft construction version of the agency's Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. The agenda includes remarks from OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, drafting the construction version of the SHPM Guidelines, and a public comment period.
The public meeting will be held from 1 - 5 p.m., Monday, April 25 and from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 26. Both meetings will take place in Room N-3437 A-C, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. Persons interested in submitting written comments or requests to speak may do so electronically at www.regulations.gov, by mail or facsimile. Comments and requests to speak are due by April 15. See the Federal Register notice for details.
OSHA met with members of the North Texas Exploration & Production Safety Network during a ceremony at the University of Texas at Arlington March 18. The group promotes safety and health practices at U.S. oil and gas exploration and production sites in North Texas. The volunteer organization, established in 2008, will continue to meet each month to share safety and health information and discuss important industry topics.
"NTEPS will serve as an excellent resource to communicate safety and health prevention information to the industry and save lives," said Jack Rector, OSHA's area director in the Fort Worth office. For more information see the news release.
The North Carolina Department of Labor Consultation Program recently presented a Star Award to Sonoco Recycling LLC of Durham, N.C. The NCDOL Safety Awards Program recognizes private and public firms throughout the state that achieve and maintain good safety records. Through the program, management, employees and NCDOL consultants establish a cooperative relationship to prevent worker injuries and illnesses.
NCDOL also presented Haywood Vocational Opportunities Inc. of Waynesville with a Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program Award. SHARP recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA's On-site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP is an achievement of status that singles out businesses that are models for worksite safety and health.
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program provides free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small and medium-sized businesses across the country. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Visit OSHA's website to find the local On-site Consultation Program office in your state or territory.
OSHA reminds employers of their obligation to post a copy of OSHA's Form 300A, which summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2015. The summary must be displayed each year between Feb. 1 and April 30 in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Businesses with 10 or fewer employees and those in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from OSHA recordkeeping and posting requirements. As of Jan. 1, 2015, certain previously exempt industries are now covered. Lists of both exempt and newly covered industries are available on OSHA's website. Visit OSHA's Recordkeeping Rule webpage for more information on recordkeeping requirements.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. See our latest posts:
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