|April 15, 2010 · Volume 9, Issue 8|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In This Issue
Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels delivered his welcome address Wednesday, April 14, to approximately 1,000 attendees of the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety in Houston. "We want Latino workers to know that if they have questions, if they have safety concerns, if they want to know about their rights, if they seek protection from retaliation when they complain about dangerous conditions on the job -- workers can rely on OSHA and the Department of Labor for help." During the April 14-15 Summit, more than 70 presenters offered innovative partnerships and effective educational materials and programs for Latino construction workers. See the Summit Web site for a complete workshop agenda. Guest speakers at the event included Dolores Huerta of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Dr. John Howard of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as leaders representing diverse groups such as unions, industry, community and faith-based organizations, and the media.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a number of major new OSHA enforcement initiatives during her April 14 keynote address at the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety. OSHA currently requires that training provisions under OSHA standards be provided in a language or a form that workers can understand. OSHA further requires that its Compliance Officers check and verify that workers have received the training required by OSHA standards. The Agency will expand upon this and effective on April 28 -- Workers Memorial Day -- Secretary Solis explained, "OSHA will also assure that its Compliance Officers check and verify not only that the training has been provided, but that it was provided in a format that the workers being trained can understand." The Secretary also announced a new pilot program where OSHA will work with local building inspectors to assure worker safety and health protection. In construction, the four leading causes of worker deaths are falls, electrocution, being crushed or caught between and being struck. Inspectors participating in this pilot program will notify OSHA when they observe unsafe work conditions leading to these four major causes of workplace fatalities.
A safety fair in Houston on Saturday, April 17, will provide Latino workers and their families with information about workplace safety and health along with games for children and family safety training. The free "We Can Help" Safety Fair, being held by OSHA and the U.S. Wage and Hour Division, will offer workers training on spotting and avoiding construction hazards such as falls, electrocutions and being struck by objects. In addition, 75 exhibitors from businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations will be providing free information on worker rights and resources, and health and medical services. Visit the safety fair Web page for more information. The fair is a continuation of the April 14-15 National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety. "This may be the last day of this historic outreach event," said Assistant Secretary Michaels, "but it is only the beginning of our commitment to protect Latino workers and their families from suffering the devastating emotional and financial loss caused by a workplace injury, illness, or fatality."
OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Grant Program Web page has been updated to provide the public for the first time with worker safety training materials created by past grant winners. These training materials are tailored to meet the needs of specific training audiences and are available in a variety of formats in both English and Spanish (other languages will be added soon). This is an example of OSHA's commitment to making potentially life saving training and educational tools available to a broader audience. The wide variety of subjects covered by the training materials includes work zone safety, amputation hazards, ergonomics, fall protection, roofing hazards, and workplace violence prevention. "Too many workers are being hurt or killed on the job," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. "The Harwood Training Grant Program is part of OSHA's ongoing goal of promoting the prevention of workplace injuries and fatalities through education." Harwood Training Grants provide funding to nonprofit organizations to support quality education and training programs on workplace safety to workers and employers. OSHA has been awarding training and education grants since 1978, and received a record 345 grant applications last year.
During two 45 minute Web chats on Wednesday, April 7, Assistant Secretary David Michaels received questions and suggestions on how the Agency can best protect America's workers. Assistant Secretary Michaels was joined by senior OSHA management to answer 70 questions from members of the public and OSHA staff on the Agency's new six-year strategic plan. Topics included the future focus of enforcement activities and priorities for developing safety and health standards. Assistant Secretary Michaels closed by saying, "We look forward to your continued comments as we move forward through the strategic planning process. Your input is important to us as we develop and refine our goals, measurements and outcomes to move us toward healthier and safer workplaces in this country." The public Web chat may be viewed online.
A former Tennessee Commerce Bank officer will receive more than $1 million in back wages and other damages, and return to work after being fired for disclosing the bank's questionable financial practices. OSHA found the bank violated whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. "This case clearly shows the department's commitment to ensuring that individuals are provided the protections and relief afforded by the law and sends a strong message that retaliatory actions will not be tolerated," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. Learn more about this case and whistleblower protection in the news release and on OSHA's Whistleblower Protection page.
Workers at a Newton, Mass., construction site were in danger of being crushed by concrete and dirt when OSHA inspectors found them in a 14-feet-deep excavation hole without hard hats and other safety equipment. The inspectors were responding to complaints about hazardous work conditions at a synagogue under construction by Telsi Builders and Ocean State Forms. Other hazards at the worksite included excavation holes that weren't braced to prevent them from collapsing and protruding rebar that could have impaled workers. Telsi and Ocean State were fined more than $178,000 for not protecting workers from injury and death. "I urge employers to review their work practices, equipment and training to ensure that none of their workers enter an excavation until it is properly guarded," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "Workers' lives could depend on it." Read the news release for more details.
OSHA is looking for 15 new members to serve on the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. MACOSH advises the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA on maritime worker safety and health issues such as fall protection and safety zones for dock workers. The Secretary of Labor will select nominees to represent workers, employers, state or federal safety and health organizations, professional organizations, national standards-setting groups, and academia. Nominations are due May 7, 2010. Read the Federal Register notice for more information.
OSHA will hold a kickoff event on Monday, May 3, at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C., to mark the annual North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. More than 5,000 people lost their lives from on-the-job injuries in 2008. Every year during the first full week of May, NAOSH participants raise public awareness about the importance of reducing the number of work-related deaths to zero. This year's focus is on the importance of creating and maintaining safe workplaces. The kickoff event will feature the American Society of Safety Engineers' "Safety-on-the-Job" poster contest in which children, ages 5-14, create illustrated safety messages that could help their parents and other workers return home each day healthy and unhurt. OSHA, ASSE, and the Canadian Society for Safety Engineering partner with several organizations representing thousands of businesses to promote NAOSH Week. Assistant Secretary Michaels, ASSE President C. Christopher Patton, and CSSE Secretary Andrew Cooper will speak at the event. Visit the NAOSH Week Web site for more information, or contact Morgan Seuberling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSHA's new Filling, Moving and Placing Sandbags fact sheet explains how to protect flood response workers as they perform the physically demanding job of protecting communities from damaging and potentially deadly floodwaters. The fact sheet explains how workers should be trained to prevent back strains and other injuries caused by repeatedly lifting and carrying heavy loads, and frequently working in awkward positions filling and stacking sandbags. The fact sheet also encourages employers to provide equipment such as safety glasses and waterproof work boots, gloves, and other gear that protects workers from such hazards as exposure to chemically treated sandbags and polluted floodwater. For more fact sheets on other safety and health topics, visit OSHA's publications Web page.
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Editor: Richard De Angelis, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999
For more information on occupational safety and health, visit OSHA's Web site.