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May 2, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 9
In this issue
Solis launches national outreach campaign to protect workers from heat-related illnesses
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis at the University of Arizona Agricultural Center in Tucson launching OSHA's campaign to prevent heat-related illness in outdoor workers.

"If you're working outdoors, you're at risk for heat-related illnesses that can cause serious medical problems and even death," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis at stops in Anaheim, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and Las Vegas, Nev., from April 26-28 (see the slideshow on the DOL Web site). Solis announced OSHA's national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat. OSHA will leverage relationships with other state and local partners, employers, trade organizations, unions, community groups, educational institutions and healthcare professionals to disseminate training materials across the country with a very simple message -- "water, rest and shade."

Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience heat-related illness, which often manifests as heat exhaustion. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which killed more than 30 workers last year. Heat can be a real danger for workers in jobs ranging from agriculture and landscaping to construction, road repair, airport baggage handling and even car sales. See the news release, in English or Spanish, for more information.

OSHA's new Heat Illness Campaign Web page provides educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on weather service alerts that will incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the United States. NOAA is also including pertinent worker safety information on its Heat Watch Web page.

White House, DOL commemorate Workers Memorial Day

April 28 is Workers Memorial Day, which honors the thousands of men, women and teens who have been injured, sickened or killed on the job due to unsafe or unhealthful working conditions. This year, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation calling upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities commemorating the occasion. "On Workers Memorial Day, we reflect on the vital achievements of the past and recommit to keeping all workers safe and healthy in the future. We owe nothing less to the countless working Americans who have built and shaped our nation, and to those who have lost their lives or been injured on the job."

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis joined U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley and other officials in a Workers Memorial Day event at the Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in Las Vegas. Prior to the event, Solis met with a group of families whose loved ones had died on the job, pledging to fight for the health and safety of all America's workers. In her remarks before a crowd of 100, Solis reiterated her commitment in the names of all workers who have been killed or injured on the job. "As long as I am the Labor Secretary, we will fight in their name to make workplaces safer and more secure for every working American."

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels plants an American dogwood tree as a memorial to workers who have lost their lives to unsafe working conditions.

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels presided over a Workers Memorial Day ceremony in Washington, D.C., attended by Department of Labor staff and invited guests. Michaels addressed the audience, followed by Solicitor of Labor Patricia Smith and Mine Safety and Health Administration Assistant Director Joe Main. After the speakers' remarks, Michaels planted a tree outside DOL headquarters, marked by a commemorative plaque, as a memorial to America's fallen workers. "This strong, resilient tree will serve as a living symbol of the roots of our commitment to every worker in America," said Michaels. "Its new blooms each April will symbolize the hope we hold for better days ahead for workers everywhere." Visit the OSHA Web site for his complete remarks.

OSHA area and regional offices across the country also participated in activities to commemorate Workers Memorial Day. These included events such as marches, ceremonies, news conferences and classes to educate employers and workers about occupational safety and health issues.

OSHA issues final rule to protect shipyard workers

OSHA issued a final rule to protect the safety and health of shipyard workers. The rule, published in the May 2 Federal Register, updates existing requirements to reflect advances in industry practices and technology, and provides new protections from hazards that were not previously addressed. OSHA's General Working Conditions in Shipyard Employment rule updates and clarifies provisions in the shipyard employment standards that have largely gone unchanged since OSHA adopted them in 1972.

The final rule addresses 14 workplace safety and health categories that include establishing minimum lighting for certain worksites, accounting for employees at the end of jobs tasks or work-shifts when working alone, and adding uniform criteria to ensure shipyards have an adequate number of appropriately trained first-aid providers. In addition, OSHA added new provisions for the control of hazardous energy and motor-vehicle safety. Until this final rule, the maritime industry did not have a specific standard to address this hazard. The final rule has been posted on OSHA's General Working Conditions Standard Web page, along with resources including a news release, a video from OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels and responses to Frequently Asked Questions.

OSHA will hold expert forum on protecting workers from combustible dust hazards

Since 1980, nearly 150 workers have been killed and more than 850 injured in combustible dust explosions. To explore methods for preventing such explosions, OSHA invited outside experts to participate in a May 13 Combustible Dust Expert Forum. OSHA will gather experts' views on possible regulatory options for addressing combustible dust hazards.

Discussions will include identifying regulatory options that can minimize the costs to small- and medium-sized businesses of reducing or preventing combustible dust hazards, while protecting workers from these hazards. Expert representatives from various industries, academia, research groups, insurance-underwriter organizations, labor and government will participate in the forum. To register as a non-participating observer, contact Bill Hamilton at 202-693-2077 by May 6. See the news release for more information.

Wind farm servicing company fined nearly $400,000 after worker is seriously burned

OSHA issued Outland Renewable Services six safety citations after a wind farm technician suffered severe burns from an electrical arc flash. The citations were issued following an investigation at a wind farm near Odell, Ill. The company, a servicing and maintenance provider in the wind tower industry, which uses wind to generate electricity, faces penalties of $378,000. Outland received the citations for willfully exposing maintenance technicians to electrical hazards from the unexpected energization of transformers in three wind turbine towers. See the news release for more information.

The manufacture and operation of wind turbines is part of the growing green jobs industry. Green jobs are defined broadly as jobs that help to improve the environment. See the OSHA Web site for more information on green job hazards.

Construction company fined more than $140,000 after subjecting workers to fall hazards

OSHA cited Champion Builders LLC for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards following OSHA's inspection of a hotel construction site in Madison, Conn. The Bristol, Conn., steel erection contractor faces a total of $143,000 in fines, chiefly for fall hazards at the worksite. OSHA found company employees exposed to falls of up to 53 feet while working without fall protection on the building's roof and to falls of between seven and 25 feet from unprotected or inadequately protected wall and window openings. Other fall hazards stemmed from an unguarded floor hole, missing or inadequate stair railings and the workers not being trained to recognize and address fall hazards. In addition, the operator of a powered industrial truck used to move steel around the jobsite was not trained in its safe operation, exposing employees to being struck or crushed by the vehicle. See the news release for more information.

OSHA intervenes in time to protect workers from trench collapse
Trench collapse
This trench collapsed moments after OSHA inspectors ordered two workers to evacuate it. The workers could have been seriously injured or even killed but for the action of the inspectors.

OSHA Compliance Officer Eliseo Hernandez and Assistant Area Director Joseph Roesler were on their way to an inspection near Auburn, Ala., when they noticed an open excavation where workers were not protected from cave-ins. The excavation was approximately 5 and 1/2 feet deep where two employees were working under an excavator bucket connecting a water line. Just after Hernandez removed the employees from the hazard, the wall of the excavation collapsed. This incident demonstrates the importance of OSHA's Trenching and Excavation National Emphasis Program. For more information on preventing cave-ins, view OSHA's Construction eTool on Trenching and Excavation and Safety and Health Topics page on Trenching and Excavation.

Advisory committee meets to discuss safety and health of shipyard workers

The Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health met April 19-20 at Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C. OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels greeted the committee members and shared the agency's latest efforts to protect the safety and health of maritime workers. These include upcoming guidance products on fall protection in the commercial fishing industry and working safely in confined spaces in fishing vessels. The meeting also featured reports from committee workgroups on longshoring and shipyard work.

MACOSH was established in 1995 to advise the secretary of labor on various issues related to safe and healthful work conditions in maritime industries. MACOSH also provides a voice for stakeholders to express their concerns and suggestions for shipyard worker safety directly to OSHA's leadership.

Michaels speaks on panel commemorating 40th anniversary of OSHA
Michaels speaks on panel commemorating 40th anniversary of OSHA
From left: OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels; Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health, AFL-CIO; Joseph Van Houten, Senior Director of Worldwide Environment, Health, and Safety, Johnson & Johnson; David Weil, Professor of Economics, Boston University.

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels spoke April 21 at the Center for American Progress on the impact OSHA has had on the lives of workers over the last 40 years.

"Before OSHA, when a worker was killed on the job, maybe there was an investigation, maybe there wasn't," said Michaels. "When a worker died of an occupational disease, often many years after exposure, it was just one of those unfortunate things that workers and their families had to deal with." Read his complete remarks on the OSHA Web site.

Michaels was later joined by workers, experts and business leaders to discuss the nation's progress in worker safety and health over the past forty years and the challenges that lie ahead. The OSHA at 40 Web page has a link to a video of the event.

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

In addition to being Workers Memorial Day, April 28 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. To commemorate this occasion, OSHA created a short video using old and new footage to highlight key moments in our nation's progress in occupational safety and health protection over the past forty years. The video features comments from former OSHA administrators as well as current Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. Visit the OSHA at 40 Web page to watch this history of the agency and access other resources including an interactive timeline, an anniversary message from Michaels and a commemoration of the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire.

OSHA photo contest: Picture it!: Safe Workplaces for Everyone
OSHA photo contest: Picture it!: Safe Workplaces for Everyone

In celebration of OSHA's 40th anniversary, the agency is holding a photo contest promoting worker safety. Picture It!: Safe Workplaces for Everyone challenges anyone with a passion for photography to capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with OSHA. The goal of the contest is to kick off a national collaboration that relies on your talent, imagination and creativity to raise awareness of workplace safety and health. You can interpret "image of workplace safety and health" in any way you choose; you are not restricted to particular subjects or themes. See the contest Web site for more information.

University of Texas offers regional no-cost safety classes

In honor of OSHA's celebration of 40 years and in memory of workers who lost their lives on the job, The University of Texas at Arlington OSHA Education Center is offering free classes on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses to workers in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. UT Arlington began offering classes April 25 on subjects including fall protection, lockout/tagout and machine safeguarding, construction and emergency hazards. Classes on fall protection and recognizing and preventing hazards in construction and excavation are scheduled for May 3-9 in Baton Rouge, La., Little Rock, Ark., and Corpus Christi and Arlington, Texas. See the UT Arlington Web site for a complete list of free OSHA classes.

Washington state gives healthcare workers more protection on the job

Washington is the first state in the nation to require that healthcare workers be protected from hazardous chemotherapy drugs that cancer patients and others depend upon for treatment. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law April 13 a bill that directs the state's Department of Labor & Industries to adopt worker protection requirements for the handling of chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs. The law requires the agency to adopt rules that require and not exceed the guidelines spelled out in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's 2004 Alert as updated in 2010. The same properties that enable chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells can also damage normal cells in healthy workers. Without precautions being taken, such as proper ventilation or protective equipment, the preparation, administration and disposal of these drugs exposes hundreds of thousands of workers to potentially harmful levels of chemicals. See the news release for more information.

Fallen Oregon workers remembered

Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Division remembered workers who died on the job during a statewide observance of Workers Memorial Day. Oregon OSHA invited all Oregonians to attend an April 28 ceremony at the Fallen Workers Memorial outside the Labor and Industries Building on the Capitol Mall in Salem. The memorial service, coordinated by the Oregon AFL-CIO, featured Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Kate Brown reading the names of Oregon workers who died on the job in 2010.

"For the friends, families and co-workers of those lost on the job, Workers Memorial Day provides a time of reflection to honor those individuals," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. "I encourage everyone -- employers and workers alike -- to take seriously the commitment to keep workplaces safe. We have not yet finished the job of making worksites as safe as they can be." See the news release for more information.

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