|May 1, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 10|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
In an official proclamation, President Barack Obama declared April 28, 2012 to be Workers' Memorial Day. The President called upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.
"Today, we reflect on their sacrifice," said President Obama, "and we rededicate ourselves to protecting the health, safety, and dignity of every worker." Read more in the Presidential Proclamation.
On April 26, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a new OSHA campaign to prevent deadly falls in the construction industry. The awareness campaign will provide employers and workers with life-saving information and educational materials about working safely from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. In 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and another 255 workers were killed. For more details of the Los Angeles Action Summit, see the news release and read the Secretary's remarks.
OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with NIOSH and the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) program. OSHA and NIOSH will work with trade associations, labor unions, employers, universities, community and faith-based organizations, and consulates to reach employers and workers – especially vulnerable, low-literacy workers – with educational materials and training on common-sense fall prevention equipment and strategies that save lives. For more information, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls. To order copies of OSHA's new Fall Prevention poster or fact sheet in English or in Spanish, please call 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page to order online.
Last week, in Workers' Memorial Day events around the country, OSHA honored the memories of those killed, disabled, injured or made sick by their jobs. Workers' Memorial Day, April 28, also marked the 41st anniversary of OSHA and the dramatic improvements in workplace safety and health over OSHA's first 40 years.
"In the 41 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted, we have made tremendous progress," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, "but our steadfast mission to make every job in America a safe job must continue. One workplace death is too many. Making a living shouldn't include dying."
To learn more, listen to Dr. Michaels' audio message, read Secretary Solis' statement, view the Presidential Proclamation. To read about local Workers' Memorial Day ceremonies and see pictures of the events, visit OSHA's Workers' Memorial Day page.
A new OSHA directive guides OSHA representatives in communicating investigation procedures with family members following a workplace fatality. The guidance ensures that OSHA representatives speak to the victim's family early in the inspection process, establish a point of contact, and maintain a working relationship with the family..
"This directive," explained Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, "ensures that OSHA receives the necessary information from the family and keeps the family informed throughout the investigation and settlement processes."
Under the new directive, OSHA representatives will contact the victim's family to explain the investigation process, timeline, and provide the family with updates throughout the investigation. Once the investigation is closed, OSHA will explain findings to the family and address any questions. If an employer has been issued citations, OSHA will provide a copy of the citation(s) to the family. For more information, see the news release and visit OSHA’s directive page (PDF*).
OSHA issued an alert (PDF*) to employers and workers using the CSE Corporation's SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuer (SCSR). Some of these devices have a critical defect that may cause the release of insufficient oxygen during start-up, a defect that could immediately result in a life-threatening situation for workers using the respirator.
"When workers need to escape from a dangerous situation, effective and reliable respiratory protection is essential," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Employers should immediately take steps to replace these respirators with a different NIOSH-approved self-rescuer or other respirator suitable for emergency escape protection." Employers must remove CSE SR-100's from service no later than May 31, 2012.
Under OSHA's respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134), employers must provide training to ensure that workers know what to do should their SCSR fail to activate. Employers and workers should immediately obtain another SCSR if they encounter any difficulty with the operation of an SCSR. For more information, see the news release.
A new OSHA web page provides information and educational resources on protecting nail salon workers from chemical, biological, and other hazards on the job.
The more than 375,000 nail technicians working in salons across the United States face possible health hazards every day. The hazards include exposure to chemicals from glues, polishes, removers, and other salon products; muscle strains from awkward positions or repetitive motions; and risk of infection from contact with client skin, nails, or blood. OSHA's new Safety and Health topics page on Health Hazards in Nail Salons gives important information about these hazards and the steps that nail salon workers and employers can take to prevent injuries and illnesses.
OSHA investigations have determined that a canvas manufacturer and a riverboat company violated the whistleblower protections of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and Seaman’s Protection Acts.
OSHA is suing LOTO Services LLC and its owner, Allan R. Lochhead, for allegedly terminating an employee at Aquatech's facility in Stuart, Fla. The worker filed a health complaint with OSHA after repeatedly reporting serious concerns to management regarding rodents and rodent droppings in the office to no avail. One day after the company was notified of the health complaint by OSHA officials; the employee was terminated. The employee filed a timely whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which concluded that the company and Lochhead had unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by the OSH Act. The suit seeks to have the worker reinstated and paid back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages. More details are available in the news release.
In addition, OSHA has entered into a settlement agreement with St. James Stevedoring Partners LLC New Orleans, which OSHA found also terminated a riverboat barge captain who twice reported an inoperable starboard vessel engine to the U.S. Coast Guard. The parties resolved their difference through a settlement agreement under which St. James Stevedoring Partners will pay a total of $245,000, including $23,451 in back pay, $70,352 in front pay, $133,106 in compensatory damages and $18,091 in attorney's fees, representing the most significant financial settlement under the Seaman's Protection Act (SPA) since OSHA assumed jurisdiction of the whistleblower provisions of that law in October 2010. Further details of the settlement are available in the news release.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the SPA and of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, as well as 19 other whistleblower statutes. Detailed information on workers' whistleblower rights is available on OSHA's Whistleblower page.
OSHA has cited Lakeview Neurorehab Center Midwest, which operates as Lakeview Specialty Hospital in Waterford, for exposing employees to workplace violence at the health care facility and treatment center, among other violations. OSHA has proposed penalties of $12,000.
OSHA initiated an investigation following a complaint that a worker had been severely beaten and threatened by a client at the facility on Sept. 28, 2011, as well as filed a police report with the Racine County Sheriff's Department.
As a result of its investigation, which revealed that staff members at the facility had been assaulted numerous times, OSHA has cited the employer for a serious violation of the agency's "general duty clause" for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. A second serious violation has been cited due to the lack of a lockout/tagout program for equipment with multiple energy sources. For further details, read the news release.
OSHA has cited American Building LLC, a Trumbull-based steel erection contractor, for alleged violations - one willful and one serious - of workplace safety standards following the Oct. 25, 2011, death of a worker at a site in Stamford, Conn. American Building employees were installing metal roofing onto a prefabricated steel building at the former Clairol campus at 1 Blachley Road when one of the workers fell 35 feet to the ground and sustained fatal injuries. An investigation by OSHA's Bridgeport Area Office found that employees lacked proper fall protection and were not adequately trained to recognize and avoid fall hazards. The safety harnesses of three of the four employees working on the roof, including the victim, were not tied off to anchorage points to prevent falls, and the fourth employee's safety lanyard was too long to protect him against a fall. For information is available in the news release.
OSHA has also cited Norcross, Georgia-based construction company LRG Framing Inc. for six safety violations at a residential work site in Cumming. OSHA received a referral, and an inspector observed employees working at heights of up to 30 feet without fall protection, among other hazards. Proposed penalties total $66,660. LRG is being cited with one willful violation, with a $46,200 penalty, for allowing employees to work without fall protection. The same violation has been cited at the company's construction sites three times since 2006, including in connection with a construction site fatality in East Point in 2007. See the news release for additional details.
Detailed information on fall protection is available on OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Page.
Following the tornadoes that devastated the Dallas area on April 3, OSHA has been on the ground helping workers and members of the public engaged in cleanup and repair activities. OSHA safety officers are distributing OSHA fact sheets and QuickCards™ with important safety information, providing safety briefs and conducting interventions to ensure that contractors and their workers have the right equipment and observe safety rules.
After a natural disaster, OSHA's role is to help protect workers and volunteers from potential hazards caused by the storm so they are not injured during recovery and rebuilding efforts. Workers and employers involved in such efforts can call 800-321-OSHA  to reach an OSHA representative in their area who can provide on-site assistance. OSHA also provides fact sheets, QuickCards™, and other educational materials on safe work practices and personal protective equipment on its Tornado Recovery page.
In recognition of his contributions to the modern occupational safety and health movement, the US Department of Labor will induct Tony Mazzocchi into its Labor Hall of Honor on June 5.
"Tony Mazzocchi's extraordinary efforts and leadership helped pave the way for vital reforms like the OSH Act, and it's time he takes his rightful place in the Labor Hall of Honor," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. "The Labor Department is pleased to recognize Tony for his tireless commitment to the safety, health and welfare of America’s workers."
Mazzocchi, who served as vice president and secretary treasurer of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic workers, spearheaded the "Right to Know" and "Right to Act" campaigns to give workers the right to know what toxic chemicals they were exposed to at work and the right to act on their knowledge.
The June 5 induction will take place at the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) 33rd Anniversary Awards Celebration at the United Federation of Teachers, 52 Broadway in lower Manhattan from 6-8 p.m. For more information or to order tickets, visit www.nycosh.org or call 212-227-6440.
On April 19, OSHA renewed an Alliance with the Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Partners to protect workers while working in roadway construction work zones. The Alliance will focus on preventing worker injuries and deaths from construction vehicle runovers and backovers, and focuses on increased outreach to non-English-speaking or limited-English-speaking workers.
"Most fatalities that occur in road construction work zones involve a worker being struck by a piece of construction equipment or other vehicle," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. "This renewed Alliance with the Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Partners will help reach workers and employers with critical education and information to reduce preventable injuries and deaths."
During the two-year agreement, the Alliance will develop fact sheets for paramedics, police officers, truck drivers, and other work zone visitors. Read more details about the Alliance in the news release.
To help protect workers at risk for struck-by hazards, OSHA has recently launched a Midwest outreach campaign and co-sponsored safety stand-downs at Georgia construction sites. "Struck by" injuries and fatalities are caused by conventional traffic/passenger vehicles, forklifts and other moving powered industrial equipment such as cranes and yard trucks.
OSHA launched the regional outreach initiative in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska to educate workers and their employers about preventing "struck by" vehicle accidents in the workplace. OSHA has developed educational materials called "Evaluate Your Entire Surroundings" (E.Y.E.S.) that are available in both English and Spanish. Materials and additional information regarding the initiative can be obtained in the news release and by contacting OSHA's offices in St. Louis at 314-425-4249; Wichita, Kan., at 316-269-6644; Kansas City, Mo., at 816-483-9531; Omaha, Neb., at 402-553-0171; or Des Moines, Iowa, at 515-284-4794.
In the South, OSHA also partnered with construction contractors, the Federal Highway Administration, the state of Georgia and local government organizations to sponsor a safety stand-down hour at construction sites across Georgia during National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week, April 23-27. Workers voluntarily stopped work at construction sites from 7 to 8 a.m. EDT to conduct work zone safety training focused on the prevention of distracted driving, such as texting while driving, and worker injuries from traffic objects and vehicles. To learn more about the Awareness Week stand-downs, see the news release or contact OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office at 678-903-7301, Atlanta-East Area Office at 770-493-6644 or Savannah Area Office at 912-652-4393.
In an effort to reach Latino workers and employers, OSHA Senior Safety and Health Specialist Danezza Quintero will be co-hosting a popular radio show, La Voz Del Pueblo. Along with fellow host Rafael Ramirez of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, Quintero will discuss worker safety and health issues and offer information and educational resources.
La Voz del Pueblo airs every Friday on La Caliente Radio, La Jefa 700 AM with 85,000 listeners in the Northeast. To listen to OSHA's segment, tune in on the first Friday of every month at 3PM EST, or find the show online at http://www.radiolajefa.com.
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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