|April 1, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 7|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
OSHA today sent to the Federal Register a final rule (PDF*) to improve workplace safety and health for workers performing electric power generation, transmission and distribution work.
“This long- overdue update will save nearly 20 lives and prevent 118 serious injuries annually,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Electric utilities, electrical contractors and labor organizations have persistently championed these much-needed measures to better protect the men and women who work on or near electrical power lines.”
The agency is revising the 40-year-old construction standard for electric power line work to make it more consistent with the corresponding general industry standard and is also making some revisions to the construction and general industry requirements to better protect workers. The final rule becomes effective 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. OSHA adopted delayed compliance deadlines for certain requirements. Read the news release and visit the new Power Generation Web page for more information.
On June 2-6, OSHA will host a National Safety Stand-Down for Fall Prevention in Construction to raise awareness about the hazards of falls – the leading cause of death in the construction industry. During this week, employers and workers are asked to voluntarily stop work to discuss fall prevention, including topics such as safe work on roofs, ladders and scaffolds.
“Almost 300 construction workers were killed in falls in 2012. Thousands more were seriously injured,” said Secretary of Labor Tom Perez in a recent video statement. “Now is the time to focus on this vital safety issue. The economy is on the rebound, housing starts are on the rise, and the summer construction season is getting underway.”
The Fall Stand-Down Web page offers educational resources for employers and supervisors to use in stand-downs at their worksites, including toolbox talks, training guides, posters and other resources in both English and Spanish. After participating in the stand-down, employers can also visit the page to receive their official certification of participation. For more information about the campaign and the June stand-down, read the press release, view the Secretary’s video and visit www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown.
On March 19, 2014, OSHA sent a letter to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, stating that OSHA does not believe that Arizona’s residential fall protection standards are at least as effective as federal OSHA standards. ADOSH has until April 18, 2014 to show how it will correct the outlined deficiencies or otherwise “show cause” as to why their standard is at least as effective as federal OSHA’s. Should the state fail to satisfy OSHA’s concerns, OSHA will move forward with a process that could eventually lead to the federal government taking over enforcement jurisdiction of Arizona’s construction sector.
OSHA has several concerns with Arizona’s residential fall protection standard, but most notably that it requires very limited conventional fall protection for workers working between 6 and 15 feet. Generally, OSHA requires the use of conventional fall protection at a height of 6 feet and above.
Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, and OSHA’s obligation is to protect construction workers by ensuring that Arizona has and enforces a standard that is at least as effective as OSHA’s. In discussions with Arizona officials over the past months, OSHA has indicated a strong preference for working collaboratively with Arizona to make the necessary changes to its legislation and statute so that the State Plan provides the requisite level of protection to workers, without the need for federal enforcement intervention.
On March 18, OSHA began three weeks of public hearings for its proposed rule on occupational exposure to crystalline silica. The hearings will continue through Friday, April 4.
In his remarks to open the hearings, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels stated that feedback from stakeholders is a crucial part of ensuring a final rule adequately protects workers, is feasible for employers, and is based on the best available evidence.
Members of the public may attend to listen to testimony from OSHA and other hearing participants. To view the hearing schedule and procedures, visit www.osha.gov/silica. To view the proposed rule, visit the Federal Register. Additional information, including the public hearings schedule and hearing procedures, as well as FAQs, fact sheets, is available at www.osha.gov/silica.
In a new post on the Environmental Protection Agency’s blog, Assistant Administrator Jim Jones discusses his agency’s efforts to ensure farmworkers are better protected with proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard.
Following this year’s 15th annual Farmworker Awareness Week, which concluded with a national day to commemorate the legacy of Cesar Chavez, Jones explained the importance of updating the 20-year old regulation to provide more protections to farmworkers from pesticide exposure.
“Farmworkers continue to toil during insufferable heat and rain and are exposed to dangerous pesticides with very little training on the hazards these pesticides cause,” Jones writes. “Farmworkers grow, tend and harvest our food. They deserve to be protected.” Read his blog to learn more about the EPA’s proposed changes.
On March 25, OSHA staff joined community members in New York City to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which killed 146 garment factory workers in 1911. Frances Perkins was one of the many witnesses to the fire, which drove her efforts on behalf of workers’ rights across the nation and her eventual appointment as the first Secretary of Labor.
The anniversary of the Triangle factory fire serves as a reminder of the many improvements to workplace safety and health made over the last several decades, as well as the considerable work still to be done to ensure that every worker returns home safe at the end of the day. To learn more, visit www.osha.gov.
Following a whistleblower investigation of Colorado-based DISH Network, with offices in New York, OSHA has ordered the company to pay a former employee $157,024 in back wages, $100,000 in compensatory damages and take other corrective action. The investigation determined that the company violated the anti- retaliatory provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by blacklisting the former employee after he reported a vendor for submitting fraudulent invoices and testifying at a deposition.
"A worker has a right to report wrongdoing to their employer without fear of retaliation during their employment and after," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Blacklisting is a particularly insidious form of retaliation that can follow workers and even cost them new jobs. It is not only an unacceptable practice, it's illegal."
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health-care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws. Read the news release and visit www.whistleblowers.gov/ for more information.
OSHA has cited ConAgra Foods Inc. for multiple safety violations at its flour mill in Columbus, Ohio. An inspection of the plant was initiated in September 2013 after OSHA received a complaint. The 13 resulting safety violations, many issued for failure to provide required machine guarding, include three repeat citations, and carry proposed penalties of $117,000.
"Lack of machine guarding can lead to amputation and other serious injuries. Risk to workers can be avoided by maintaining adequate guards and following manufacturer- recommended safety procedures," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Employers cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health."
Three repeat violations include lack of machine guarding on horizontal shafts in the flour mill, failing to provide all required information on OSHA injury and illness logs, and exposing workers to falls greater than 7 feet. ConAgra was cited for the same violations in 2011, 2010 and 2009 at its facilities in Cranbury, N.J.; Turners Fall, Mass.; and Carol Stream, Ill., respectively. OSHA also issued the company 10 serious safety citations for hazards that included inadequate machine guarding at work areas near moving machinery, shafts, fans, pulleys and chains. See the news release for more information.
Following a September 2013 incident in which a worker was trapped for 8 hours in a hot liquid asphalt tank and severely burned, OSHA has cited Atlantic Coast Asphalt, a part of Hubbard Construction Co., with 10 serious safety and health violations. Proposed penalties total $63,360.
"This incident could have been prevented if the employer followed OSHA's standards for lockout/tagout and permit-required confined space procedures," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "When employers take short-cuts related to safety and health they are gambling with employees' lives."
The citations were issued for the employer's failure to follow permit-required confined space entry and lockout/tagout procedures to ensure all hazards were identified, documented, measured and controls put in place prior to the employee entering the asphalt tank. The employer also exposed workers to entrapment, thermal and chemical burn hazards. Read the press release for more information.
OSHA is soliciting nominations for members to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. The agency seeks 12 individuals to serve on the committee, including four public representatives and two representatives each for labor, management and professionals in occupational safety and in occupational health. The secretary of health and human services will designate four of the representatives and the secretary of labor will appoint six members to serve a two-year term and a three-year term.
The agency asks that nominations be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, mail or facsimile. Nominations must be submitted by May 27, 2014. For more information on the announcement, see the news release.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health April 15-16, 2014, in Washington, D.C. The Longshoring and Shipyard work group meetings will be held on April 15 and the full committee will meet on April 16.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health April 15-16, 2014, in Washington, D.C. The Longshoring and Shipyard work group meetings will be held on April 15 and the full committee will meet on April 16. The April meeting agenda will include OSHA updates from the Directorates of Standards and Guidance, Enforcement, Cooperative and State Programs, and Technical Support and Emergency Management, discussions on the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Advisory Committee ethics, administrative procedures (travel) and committee items of interest proposed at the meeting. 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 press release and Federal Register notice for details. Comments and requests to speak must be submitted by April 1, 2014.
OSHA has developed Safe Patient Handling: Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in Nursing Homes, a new brochure that addresses the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders among nursing home and residential care workers. This brochure explains how implementing a safe patient handling program can reduce or prevent the number and severity of these musculoskeletal hazards. A successful safe patient handling program includes a commitment to the program by all levels of management, a program committee that involves frontline workers, hazard assessment, selecting technology and equipment to control hazards and training workers on the elements of a safety patient handling program. For more information about safe patient handling and on protecting healthcare workers, visit OSHA’s Healthcare Web page.
OSHA has also released a new whistleblower fact sheet, Filing Whistleblower Complaints under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (PDF*), which offers information to employees of motor vehicle manufacturing, part suppliers and dealerships about who is covered, protected activities and the process of filing a complaint.
Also available is a new Fatal Fact on a recent material hoist collapse that killed a construction worker. The document describes the event, its causes, and best practices employers can use to prevent similar incidents from happening at their worksites.
In a new Health Hazard Evaluation Report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, researchers describe findings of an evaluation of musculoskeletal disorders at one South Carolina poultry plant.
This was NIOSH’s second visit to this plant and they continued to find very high rates of musculoskeletal disorders among plant workers. On the first visit, NIOSH documented that 42 percent of the workers showed evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome. They found that 57 percent of participants reported at least one musculoskeletal symptom at both the initial and follow up visit. In addition, NIOSH found that over 30 percent of participants in the study, during both the first and second visit, were performing job tasks that had levels of hand activity and force above the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ threshold limit values.
NIOSH also noted potential underreporting of work-related injuries on company medical clinical data and that the company had only implemented a few of its earlier recommendations to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. In their follow-up report, NIOSH added a number of new specific recommendations, and concluded that “existing guidelines for prevention, early recognition and intervention, and medical management must be put into place and vigorously and routinely reinforced” to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.” See the NIOSH press release for additional information. For a complete list of NIOSH’s findings and recommendations, read the report.
OSHA has renewed its alliance with the Sealant Waterproofing and Restoration Institute to provide information and training to protect the safety and health of workers involved in waterproofing, sealant and restoration. Through the alliance, OSHA and SWR Institute will develop toolbox talks and case studies on key OSHA initiatives such as falls and heat stress. The agreement will remain in effect for five years. For more information, visit the SWRI Alliance page.
OSHA has also formed an alliance with the Georgia Concerned Beauty Professionals in Atlanta, GA. to provide hair salon owners and employees with information, guidance and training to protect workers from exposure to products that contain hazardous chemicals, such as formaldehyde. For more information, see the press release and read about OSHA’s efforts to protect hair salon workers.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ Louisville District office in Columbus, Ohio, is the first in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to receive certification in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program. Management and staff earned the distinction by ensuring that on-the-job safety remained paramount throughout many construction projects, and by developing a comprehensive driver safety program.
OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program recognizes employers and workers in the private sector and federal agencies that implement effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. In VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through a system focused on: hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment and worker involvement.
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 2013 and were logged on OSHA's Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. The summary must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2014, and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain industries are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements. A complete list of exempt industries in the retail, services, finance, insurance and real estate sectors can be found at http://s.dol.gov/YP.
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