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April 15, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 8
In this issue
Appeals court upholds OSHA's fall protection directive

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected a challenge by the National Roofing Contractors Association to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's December 2010 directive on the use of fall protection in residential construction. The directive withdrew an earlier one that allowed certain residential construction employers to bypass some fall protection requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 40 workers are killed on average each year as a result of falls from residential roofs.

"Fall protection saves lives," said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. "There are effective means available to protect residential construction workers from falls. We applaud the court's decision upholding this updated, common-sense directive." Construction and roofing companies have until June 16 to comply with the new directive. See the news release for more information.

OSHA issues hazard alert on hair smoothing and straightening products that could release formaldehyde

OSHA issued a hazard alert to hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with some hair smoothing and straightening products. Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Connecticut's Department of Public Health, and agencies in several other states have already issued warnings. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and nose, cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes and lungs and is also linked to nose and lung cancer.

Responding to complaints about possible exposure, OSHA and many state occupational safety and health agencies are conducting investigations. During one investigation, federal OSHA's air tests showed formaldehyde at levels greater than OSHA's allowable limits, even though the product tested was labeled as formaldehyde-free. The hazard alert provides information about OSHA's investigations, the health hazards of formaldehyde and how to protect workers using hair smoothing and straightening products. See the news release for more information.

Michaels tells Congress that worker safety and health benefits the economy

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels testified April 14 to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations on OSHA's Fiscal Year 2012 budget request. Michaels explained that in addition to being the right thing to do, protecting workers also makes economic sense. A March 2010 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company report showed that the most disabling injuries, (those involving six or more days away from work) cost American employers more than $53 billion a year -- over $1 billion a week -- in workers' compensation costs alone.

Michaels said, "The FY 2012 OSHA budget request reflects one of this country's major priorities -- ensuring that this nation's working men and women have the right and the ability to come home from work to their families safe and sound. OSHA's flexible common-sense efforts focus on assistance to employers who are trying to do the right thing, while using our enforcement resources to deter employers who neglect their responsibilities so that we can prevent injuries illnesses and fatalities in this nation's workplaces." See the OSHA Web site for his complete testimony.

Guidance document provides methods to help prevent injuries and deaths among residential construction workers

Using a reusable anchor with a retractable lifeline.
Using a reusable anchor with a retractable lifeline, by left hand.
To help employers comply with the new fall protection directive (see first story) OSHA issued a guidance document on Fall Protection in Residential Construction. Falls are the leading cause of death for workers involved in residential construction. The document focuses primarily on new construction and shows how employers can prevent fall-related injuries and death by methods that include using bracket scaffolds, anchors, safety net systems and guardrails during activities such as weatherproofing a roof or installing roof sheathing, walls and subfloors. See the news release for more information.

Precautions for handling hazardous drugs highlighted by OSHA, NIOSH and The Joint Commission

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and The Joint Commission sent a letter to U.S. hospitals highlighting the need for safe practices in handling hazardous drugs that can pose serious job-related health risks to workers. Drugs used for chemotherapy (such as antineoplastic drugs), antiviral treatments, hormone regimens, and other applications have potential for serious adverse occupational health effects, the agencies said. Irreversible effects from work-related exposures even at low levels, without taking appropriate precautions, can include cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, allergic reactions and others.

"Substances that present a potential health hazard to workers must be included in an employer's hazard communication program, and it should be readily available and accessible to all, including temporary workers, contractors, and trainees," said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels in a news release issued by the agencies. "We encourage employers to address safe drug handling by committing their management staff to taking a leadership role in identifying and remediating hazards, offering employee training, and evaluating workplace injury and illness prevention programs for continuous improvement."

Web page offers information about the effects of radiation dispersal from Japan on U.S. workers

A new page on the OSHA Web site, Radiation Dispersal from Japan and the Effect on U.S. Workers, provides information to help workers, employers, and occupational health professionals regarding the release of airborne contamination from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Although it is not expected that harmful levels of radiation will reach the United States, OSHA is working with other federal agencies to monitor domestic reports of radiation concerns and provide up-to-date worker protection information. This Web page includes links to a worker information page OSHA developed jointly with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as other resources such as frequently asked questions about the Japan Nuclear crisis, radiation basics, and updates on the current situation in Japan.

OSHA hosts Northern California summit for Asian American and Pacific Islander worker safety and health

OSHA's Region IX, California's Department of Industrial Relations, and the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, will host an Asian American and Pacific Islander Worker Protection Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 10. There will be presentations, exhibit booths, and information on workplace safety and wage rights. Community groups, workers, employers, nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations will come together to discuss worker protection issues and how to enhance workers' ability to exercise their rights. See the flyer for more information.

New Safety and Health Injury Prevention Sheet provides information on rigging hazards
Maintain awareness of potential fall hazards while conducting lifts.
Maintain awareness of potential fall hazards while conducting lifts.

OSHA issued a new Safety and Health Injury Prevention Sheet to help protect workers against hazards posed during rigging operations in shipyards. SHIPS: Rigging provides both employers and workers with real-world hazard information and solutions. Workers performing rigging functions use ropes and cables to secure a ship's parts and sections for lifting by cranes, hoists and other material handling equipment. OSHA's Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health identifies rigging as a high-hazard operation because loads that are improperly rigged can expose workers to falls, electric shock, amputation and being crushed by objects, among other hazards. See the OSHA Web site for more information on protecting the safety and health of workers in the Maritime Industry.

Grain handling facility fined nearly $400,000 after worker is engulfed by corn

OSHA cited North Central Farmers Elevator in Ipswich, S.D., with six willful violations for exposing workers to the hazard of being engulfed by grain. Penalties total $378,000. OSHA began an investigation at the facility in October 2010 following an incident in which a worker was engulfed by corn in a grain bin. The violations relate to grain and confined spaces and demonstrate the failure to protect workers from engulfment hazards.

Since 2009, OSHA has issued fines exceeding $100,000 per employer to grain operators across the country following preventable engulfment fatalities and injuries in grain bins. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to a total of more than 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions to prevent engulfments. See the news release for more information.

OSHA seeks applications from organizations to offer online worker safety and health training courses

OSHA is seeking applications from organizations to provide 10- or 30-hour online OSHA Outreach Training Program courses in the construction, general and maritime industries. The program trains workers on their rights, describes employer responsibilities, explains how to file a complaint and describes work-related hazards. Applications must be received by OSHA's Directorate of Training and Education by June 27. A proposal conference will be held April 19 in Arlington Heights, IL, to provide potential applicants with information about the training program, OSHA expectations for online trainers, online courses and methods of instruction, and administrative and program requirements for online trainers. For more information see the Federal Register notice or contact Don Guerra at guerra.don@dol.gov or Jim Barnes at barnes.jim@dol.gov.

OSHA to kick off North American Occupational Safety and Health Week

OSHA will host an event May 2, at Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C., to mark the start of the annual North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. NAOSH Week is an annual event designed to underscore the importance of safety and health in the workplace. This year the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering will celebrate the strides made in safety over the past 100 years and look to a future of worldwide workplace injury and illness prevention. OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels, ASSE President Daryl Hill, and CSSE Secretary Andrew Cooper will speak at the event. Visit the NAOSH Week Web site for more information, or contact Morgan Seuberling at seuberling.morgan@dol.gov.

OSHA revisions strengthen Outreach Training Program

OSHA revised its voluntary Outreach Training Program requirements and procedures to improve the quality of outreach classes and ensure the integrity of its authorized trainers. Formerly known as the "program guidelines," the new "program requirements" will apply to all Outreach Training Programs, with separate procedures for each specific program. The new requirements include a trainer code of conduct and a Statement of Compliance which requires each trainer to verify that the training they conduct will be in accordance with the Outreach Training Program requirements and procedures. Other program enhancements involve limiting classroom size to a maximum of 40 students, limiting the use of translators to those with safety and health experience, and limiting the amount of time spent on videos during the training. See the news release for more information.

The Outreach Training Program, a voluntary participation information resource, is part of OSHA's Directorate of Training and Education. The program comprises a national network of more than 17,000 independent trainers who teach workers and employers about OSHA, workers' rights and how to identify, avoid and prevent workplace hazards. There are 10- and 30-hour outreach classes for construction, general industry and maritime, and 15-hour classes for disaster site workers. Students who successfully complete classes receive completion cards.

Montana On-site Consultation Program coordinates efforts to improve statewide injury and illness rates

In 2007, Montana had the highest injury and illness rate in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the national rate of injuries and illnesses among private sector industry workers declined since 2006, incident rates in Montana rose. By 2008 the incident rate in Montana was more than 60 percent higher than the national average. In response to this situation, the Montana Safety and Health Bureau, which administers OSHA's On-site Consultation Program in that state, teamed up with the nonprofit organization WorkSafeMT to leverage its own promotional and training efforts and bring greater awareness of OSHA's On-site Consultation Program to the state's employers and workers. WorkSafeMT facilitates communication among safety groups in the state and has coordinated events designed to showcase workplace safety and health resources. See OSHA's Web site for more information.

Public service announcement warning against texting while driving wins first prize in Oregon safety video contest

Four high school students from Lake Oswego, Ore., won first place in a safety video contest, co-sponsored by Oregon OSHA and organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition, for their public service announcement on the dangers of texting while driving. With the use of special effects, "Texting and Driving" depicts a car crash that occurs when a pizza delivery driver is texting with friends. See the news release for more information.

A link to the winning video has been posted on OSHA's Distracted Driving Web page, which offers information on the agency's efforts to protect workers from this growing hazard. The page also includes information on the April 18 Symposium on Prevention of Occupationally-Related Distracted Driving and a link to OSHA's new distracted driving brochure.

OSHA celebrates 40 years of helping to ensure healthier workers, safer workplaces and a stronger America

Throughout 2011, OSHA is presenting a series of resources and activities to celebrate the agency's 40th anniversary. Visit the OSHA at 40 Web page for an interactive timeline of the agency's history, an anniversary message from OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels and a commemoration of the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire.

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Corrections to information in the previous QuickTakes.

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels testified before Congress on March 16.

OSHA is a partner in the April 18 Symposium on Prevention of Occupationally-Related Distracted Driving.

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Editor: Richard De Angelis, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999.
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