Assistant Secretary Henshaw Testifies on Efforts to Protect Immigrant Workers
OSHA, Hispanic Contractors Form Alliance
Survey Designed to Improve Effectiveness of Respirators
Fall Protection Saves Lives
Short Asbestos Fibers Not Linked to Disease
Strategies for Success at Igloo Corporation
Steel Erection Standard Compliance Directive
OSHA Opens Competition for Training Education Centers
NACOSH Meets in Washington, Welcomes Ron Hayes as Public Representative
OSHA Administrator John Henshaw told a Senate subcommittee Feb. 27 that OSHA will "enhance our programs and use all of the tools provided by law to protect immigrant workers and all other employees in this Nation." Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Henshaw outlined initiatives OSHA has undertaken to assist foreign-born workers.
One of those initiatives includes the creation of the Hispanic Task Force last August, headed by OSHA's Regional Administrator in Dallas, and comprised of representatives from the National office, local OSHA offices, and state OSHA programs.
The Executive Director of the Hispanic Contractors of America, Inc. (HCA) signed an alliance with OSHA last month to promote safe and healthful working conditions for Hispanic construction workers. The alliance will provide OSHA and HCA the opportunity to work together to exhibit and disseminate safety and health information, develop new resources for Hispanic construction employers and employees, and work with community and faith-based organizations and other leadership groups to build safety and health awareness in the Hispanic community. OSHA and HCA will encourage bilingual construction workers to take OSHA's "train-the-trainer" classes so they can teach construction safety and health courses in Spanish. The alliance will promote participation in OSHA cooperative programs and provide State Plan States the opportunity to become involved in the alliance.
The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics recently administered a survey of U.S. companies in the private sector that use respirators as a component of ongoing occupational safety and health programs. Commissioned by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the survey's results were published last month and will help NIOSH and others better understand the patterns of respirator use in workplaces, and recommend changes for more effective administration of respirator programs. The survey covered employers from manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, health care, and services.
Should one doubt the wisdom of using fall protection during construction, you might want to ask one fortunate construction worker from Michigan-based National Riggers and Erectors. Last September, while working at the Lambeau Field Renovation project in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the worker slipped from a steal beam - six stories above ground. Thanks to his use of full fall protection, serious injury - or death - was avoided. He was back at work shortly after his rescue. Less than two months later, a second worker slipped from a beam, but also escaped injury because of his fall protection equipment. Like his predecessor, he returned to work the same day. OSHA has a Strategic Partnership agreement with Turner Construction, the Lambeau Field general contractor, which requires 100 percent use of fall protection above six feet.
An extensive review of the scientific literature over the past 60 years found no reliable evidence indicating that short asbestos fibers contribute to asbestos-related diseases, Dr. Dan Barnett told OSHA staffers last month. A second-year resident in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Barnett noted that both epidemiological and animal data indicate asbestos-related lung disease is associated with longer, thinner fibers. Barnett undertook the literature review in light of concerns expressed in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster about the potential threat of lung disease among workers and residents who might have been exposed to short asbestos fibers.
As part of his rotation with OSHA's Office of Occupational Medicine, Barnett looked at both epidemiological studies of patients with malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, and animal studies involving primarily rats and mice.
4/02/02 - Editor’s Note: "This discussion was based on a literature review that was presented to OSHA staffers in February. The review does not represent a statement of policy by OSHA. This brief article was presented for information only to our readers. More information on the occupational aspects of asbestos can be found on OSHA’s website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html"
A complaint inspection at an Igloo manufacturing plant in Houston, resulted not only in safety and health improvements at the plant, but also helped the well-known plastics products company reap economic rewards. The December 1999 inspection resulted in 27 violations with proposed penalties totaling $117,500. OSHA's Houston North Area Office opened an informal conference with the company, and focused discussions on effective safety and health programs as a "profit center," not just a cost of doing business. Igloo not only listened, but they acted.
Igloo spent more than $1 million implementing innovative policies and procedures to improve their safety and health program. During the first year alone, those programs helped drive lost time injuries down 40 percent, and shrunk related medical costs approximately 60 percent. The savings in medical costs alone paid for Igloo's
$1 million investment. Those are tangible savings; what's not reflected is the increase in productivity, improved quality control, reduced product damage, and the enhanced morale and goodwill of Igloo's workers.
OSHA recently issued its revised compliance directive to enforce the new steel erection standard that was effective Jan. 18. The directive addresses the standard's key provisions and the "phase-in" of component requirements. It also contains a compliance officer guide with inspection tips, definitions with photos, and a Q&A chapter that clarifies provisions of the standard.
OSHA is holding a new round of competition for the OSHA Training Institute Education Centers Program. The competition, announced in the Feb. 21 Federal Register, is open to colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations with occupational safety and health training experience. A minimum of ten of these organizations will be selected to conduct OSHA courses for private sector personnel, and Federal personnel from agencies other than OSHA. Applications are due at the OSHA Office of Training and Education by May 24.
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) met last month to discuss occupational safety and health issues, including partnerships, enforcement activities, the VPP program, and OSHA's Hispanic Task Force. Ron Hayes, founder and director of Families in Grief Hold Together (FIGHT) was welcomed as the committee's new public representative. Hayes founded FIGHT in 1995 following the death of his son in a grain handling accident.
Editor's Note: Due to positive response received from readers, QuickTakes will now be published twice a month beginning with this issue. Look for QuickTakes on or about the 1st and 15th of every month.
--Bill Wright, OSHA Office of Public Affairs, 202-693-1999