|May 15, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 11|
Since May 4, millions of workers and thousands of employers have paused to focus on preventing falls in the workplace. As National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction wraps up, businesses from around the country and across the globe have participated in this year’s record-setting campaign.
On May 11, Casa de Maryland's Shady Grove center trained workers on scaffold and ladder safety using roof buckets, scaffolds, and ladders for demonstration. Similar talks took place at the other CASA centers located in Hyattsville, Md.
The Nevada OSHA Safety Consultation Training Section and the Nellis Air Force Base Ground Safety unit in Las Vegas provided fall protection safety training to more than 150 participants during an hour-long stand-down event at the military installation.
In Hindon, India, 1,300 workers gathered to discuss falls on a Boeing site which is constructing several facilities for the U.S. government. The team continues to have an excellent safety record with more than 8 million man hours without a lost time incident.
On the island of Diego Garcia, San Juan Construction is working on multiple projects at a U.S. Navy Support Facility. As part of the stand-down training, exercises are being conducted on fall protection, PPE, ladder safety and head safety, among other topics.
The Canadian Government's Labour Program is participating in the stand-down by developing hazard alert info sheet on falls from heights and promoting the stand-down on their social media outlets.
For a complete list of stand-down events in the U.S. and throughout the world, visit OSHA's National Stand-Down for Safety page. After hosting or participating in a stand-down, OSHA reminds employers and workers to visit the OSHA Stand-Down webpage or the National Safety Council webpage to print an official Certificate of Participation signed by the Secretary of Labor to recognize your business' commitment to workplace safety.
As summer approaches and outdoor temperatures begin to rise, OSHA is once again informing the public about its Heat Safety Tool app to help protect workers from heat illness, which is available on iOS and Android devices in both English and Spanish. OSHA has updated the version for iPhones, which now offers full screen color alerts for all heat conditions, improved navigation and accessibility options, and compatibility upgrades. The heat app provides heat illness prevention guidance specific to the user's current outdoor workplace conditions using weather data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The new version provides the daily maximum heat index intended to help prepare for extreme heat and plan work schedules accordingly. More than 187,000 users have downloaded this life-saving app.
OSHA's heat app was updated in-house and is fully open source, so app developers from across the country can access the code and contribute to or improve the app themselves. The heat app's code is available online.
As part of its Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, OSHA is also joining the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to promote "Don't Fry Day" on May 22. "Don’t Fry Day" is an annual event — taking place on the Friday before Memorial Day — that seeks assistance from the media to help educate the public about the danger of extreme heat and ultraviolet radiation.
OSHA has levied $822,000 in fines against Pennsylvania duct manufacturer Lloyd Industries Inc. following a gruesome injury that resulted in a worker losing three fingers. OSHA has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
In the last 15 years, the people who work for Pennsylvania-based Lloyd Industries Inc. have been left to worry about returning home with a workplace injury as the duct manufacturer allows them to operate machines without protection from dangerous moving parts, and exposes them to hazardous noise levels without yearly tests to protect their hearing.
"William Lloyd and Lloyd Industries are serial violators of OSHA safety standards, and their workers have paid the price," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "No employer is above the law. For 15 years, they have repeatedly put their employees at risk of serious injuries. This must stop now."
William Lloyd has shown a pattern of defiance toward OSHA standards. The latest inspection resulted in several violations including failure to guard machines, provide annual audiometric tests, electrical hazards, noise protection and recordkeeping violations. For more information, read the news release.
Four workers killed after being overcome by a lethal gas would be alive had their employer, DuPont, provided required protective equipment. One worker was overwhelmed when methyl mercaptan gas was unexpectedly released as she unplugged a supply line. Two co-workers who came to her aid were also overcome. None of the three wore protective respirators. A fourth co-worker – the brother of one of the fallen men – attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful. OSHA cited the LaPorte, Texas, company for 11 safety violations and issued fines totaling $99,000.
"Four people lost their lives and their families lost loved ones because DuPont did not have proper safety procedures in place," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Had the company assessed the dangers involved, or trained their employees on what to do if the ventilation system stopped working, they might have had a chance."
DuPont was cited for one repeat, nine serious and one other-than-serious OSHA violations including exposing workers to concentrations of methyl mercaptan above the legal limit, failing to train workers on using the building’s ventilation system and backup safety procedures, and provide up-to-date safety information. The inspection also found numerous safety upgrades the company must undertake to prevent future accidents at its LaPorte building. For more information and to view the citations, read the news release.
K.R. Swerdfeger Construction Inc. and Pate Construction Co. Inc. were cited by OSHA for willfully failing to provide workers with cave-in protection. OSHA initiated an inspection of Swerdfeger Construction in Pueblo, Colo., after receiving a complaint. A separate inspection of Pate Construction in Penrose, Colo., began after an OSHA compliance officer observed an unprotected trench. Combined proposed penalties total $101,200.
"A trench cave-in happens so quickly a worker has no time to react, and the results are often fatal," said David Nelson, OSHA's area director in Englewood, Colo. "Shoring trench walls for support is not a new practice in the construction industry, yet both of these employers chose to ignore this commonsense safety system."
Swerdfeger was also cited for placing workers in a trench more than 4 feet deep without a safe exit. Read the news brief for more information and to view the citations.
OSHA also cited DS Utilities Inc. of Fort Jackson, S.C., for exposing workers to trenching hazards while installing sewer lines. OSHA issued the company one willful citation for allowing employees to work in a 9.5 foot deep excavation without cave-in protection. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or by using a protective trench box.
Additionally, three serious violations were issued for failing to provide a safe entrance and exit from the trench, allowing workers to operate an excavator too close to the opening of the trench and exposing workers to tripping and fall hazards from an open hole. Total proposed penalties are $68,600.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have released a new toolkit to help health care employers protect hospital staff from respiratory hazards on the job. The Hospital Respiratory Protection Toolkit includes information provided by The Joint Commission, an accrediting body for more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States.
Respirators are used to protect workers from exposures to airborne transmissible infectious diseases as well as chemicals and certain drugs that may be used in healthcare settings. OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard requires health care employers to establish and maintain a respiratory protection program in workplaces where workers may be exposed to respiratory hazards.
"Hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "One of the ways that we can protect workers in a health care setting is by providing employers with the resources needed to ensure a safe workplace. This toolkit will help protect those workers who dedicate their lives to caring for others."
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez recently appointed six members to serve on the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health. FACOSH advises the Secretary of Labor on all matters relating to the occupational safety and health of federal workers. This includes providing advice on how to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses in the federal workforce and how to encourage each federal executive branch department and agency to establish and maintain effective occupational safety and health programs. For the list of members, see the news release.
At the special request of the Consul of Mexico Alicia Kerber, regional OSHA staff attended a special celebration to honor the work of local Hispanic citizens and organizations whose efforts have contributed significantly to the well-being, prosperity and empowerment of Mexican people, families, and communities within the Kansas City metropolitan area.
IOSHA Region VII — which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — has long enjoyed a successful alliance with the Mexican Consulate of Kansas City. This alliance provides information, guidance and access to education and training programs for Mexican workers in the greater Kansas City community. OSHA’s regional office has provided workplace safety and health training in Spanish, and is often featured on local Spanish-speaking radio and television programs. Visit OSHA’s website for more information on the agency’s Alliance Program.
On May 12, OSHA participated in the White House Summit on AAPI where nearly 2,000 community leaders, federal officials, and members of the public gathered in Washington, D.C. to showcase policies and programs that have supported the AAPI community over the past six years, and highlight efforts for the next two years and decades to come.
Over the past year, OSHA has worked extensively in collaboration with the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and other DOL agencies on a Vulnerable Workers Project in a series of listening sessions with AAPI communities around the country. The project focuses on gathering information about the specific employment and labor issues encountered by the AAPI workforce, educating AAPI communities about their federal rights and protections, and developing strategic enforcement and policy priorities based on the information learned.
In addition, OSHA is engaging in more than a dozen outreach events across the country this month to ensure that workers in the AAPI community receive the safety and health protections they need on the job. This is part of a series of OSHA initiatives to address worker safety and health in industries where AAPI workers are present including healthcare, nail salons, hair salons, construction, and many others.
To find out more about what is going on in your area, contact your area office or call 800-321-OSHA .
Delegates from Vietnam's National Assembly, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, and representatives of key labor and health ministries recently met with OSHA representatives as part of a technical assistance cooperation project.
OSHA discussed efforts to reach and protect migrant, temporary and other vulnerable workers, relevant to Vietnam's dominant agricultural labor sector. OSHA and the delegates later visited the Carderock Voluntary Protection Site, where they met with the site's safety manager and visited testing locations to learn about effective safety and health management programs.
On May 25, OSHA met with ministers from Paraguay’s newly formed Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security in Washington, D.C. The delegates were given an overview of OSHA's organizational structure, standards-development process, enforcement programs and approaches, as well as outreach and educational activities.
The delegates then travelled to Texas to participate in an information exchange with OSHA's Houston-South Area Office. The exchange focused on inspection resources and procedures, compliance assistance programs, the complaint process, as well as training for OSHA inspectors. The exchange provided the Paraguayan labor ministers with a framework for developing capacity building and training for labor inspectors, tools for leveraging limited inspection resources, and programs to promote compliance assistance.
OSHA staff and members of the Paraguayan delegation.
A new addition to OSHA's Fatal Facts series emphasizes the responsibility of employers to protect workers from being injured or killed in a parking garage collapse. Fatal Facts describe cases that are representative of employers who failed to identify and correct hazardous working conditions leading to fatalities at their worksites. This one is based on the Miami-Dade College campus parking garage collapse that trapped and killed four workers and injured three others. To prevent similar tragedies, employers should take safety measures such as ensuring that parking garages are erected in compliance with adequate design specifications and that workers receive appropriate training to recognize and avoid hazardous conditions. Employers must assign competent persons, able to identify and correct hazards, to conduct frequent inspections of construction sites, materials and equipment.
A new chapter on Ethanol Processing has been added to the OSHA Technical Manual that provides OSHA inspectors with technical information about workplace hazards and controls critical to identifying safety and health hazards in ethanol-for-fuel manufacturing facilities. It includes key process descriptions, potential hazards and abatement measures typically needed to prevent or mitigate hazards found in this industry.
To help ensure that workers have a voice in their workplaces and the protection they deserve, OSHA recently unveiled a new version of its "Job Safety and Health – It's The Law!" poster. The poster informs workers of their rights, and employers of their responsibilities. It has been updated to include the new reporting obligations for employers, who must now report every fatality and every hospitalization, amputation and loss of an eye.
OSHA's "It's the Law" poster is free and can be downloaded online. Employers must display the poster in a conspicuous place where workers can see it. Previous versions of the poster do not need to be replaced. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. See our latest posts:
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