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May 16, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 10
In this issue
U.S. district court upholds OSHA subpoena in grain engulfment case

A U.S. district court upheld a subpoena issued by OSHA requesting documents from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co. concerning inspections and reports the company prepared for Haasbach LLC. Two teenage workers were killed in a grain engulfment at Haasbach's Mount Carroll, Ill., site in July 2010.

The court ruled that OSHA has jurisdiction to investigate the workplace fatalities, and further has the authority to require the production of relevant evidence and the ability to issue a subpoena to obtain that evidence. The requested documents, which included copies of site safety inspections, applications for insurance coverage for the site, and correspondence between Grinnell and Haasbach concerning the site, were found to "reasonably relate to the investigation of the incident and the question of OSHA jurisdiction," according to the decision.

OSHA issued Haasbach 25 citations with a penalty of $555,000 following an investigation into the deaths of the two teenage workers at the company's Mount Carroll grain elevator. A 20-year-old man also was seriously injured in the same incident when all three became entrapped in corn more than 30 feet deep. See the news release for more information.

OSHA seeks additional public comments on proposed column for employer injury and illness logs

OSHA is reopening the public record on a proposed rule to revise the Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirement regulation. Notice of the reopening will be published May 17 in the Federal Register. The purpose of the reopening is to allow interested individuals to comment on the small business teleconferences OSHA and the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy co-sponsored April 11-12, and on the issues raised during the teleconferences. OSHA held the teleconferences to gather information from representatives of small businesses about their experiences recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders and how they believe they would be impacted by OSHA's proposed rule. OSHA has posted a summary of comments about the teleconferences in the public docket for this rulemaking. The proposed rule covers only MSDs that employers are already required to record under the longstanding OSHA Recordkeeping rule. Interested persons must submit comments by June 16 either electronically or by fax, mail, hand delivery, express mail, messenger or courier. See the Federal Register notice for more information.

Machinery manufacturer fined more than $480,000 after endangering workers lives

OSHA issued 33 citations to the Parker Hannifin Corp. and fined the company $487,700 for numerous safety and health violations found during an inspection of its plant in Batesville, Miss. Parker Hannifin has 170 facilities throughout the country and manufactures machinery for hydraulics, air conditioning, refrigeration and aerospace systems.

OSHA issued 16 citations for repeat violations such as failing to protect workers by correcting electrical deficiencies, providing machine guarding, and attaching warning labels to hazardous chemicals. Parker Hannifin was previously cited for the same or similar violations during inspections at other company locations. OSHA also issued the company 17 citations for exposing workers to a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm from hazards including struck-by hazards due to a defective safety latch on a hoist and damaged hooks on an overhead crane and allowing unapproved electrical equipment to be used in a hazardous location where flammable chemicals were present. See the news release for more information.

Grain elevator company fined nearly $190,000 after worker is killed in grain engulfment

OSHA cited Taft Grain & Elevator Co. with 20 violations and fined the company $188,000 after a worker was engulfed in grain and died at the company work site in Taft, Texas. An initial OSHA inspection in response to the worker fatality was followed by another inspection under the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities, which covered all processes at the company's facility. OSHA inspectors cited the company for willful violations that include failing to provide a body harness and lifeline to employees working in grain bins, failing to lock and tag out equipment during grain storage building entry to prevent accidental energy start-up, and failing to have an attendant present with rescue equipment during grain storage building entry. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. At least 26 U.S. workers were killed in grain entrapments last year, and the numbers of entrapments are increasing, according to researchers at Purdue University. See the news release for more information.

New Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page now online

OSHA has a new Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page to provide easy to use, informative and useful guidance on how to implement an effective system for finding and fixing workplace safety and health hazards. Injury and illness prevention programs, known by a variety of names, are universal interventions that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace injury and illness prevention programs. Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using injury and illness prevention programs and OSHA believes that all employers can and should do the same. As OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels put it, "Injury and illness prevention programs are good for workers, good for business and good for America."

New OSHA educational booklet discusses indoor air quality in commercial and institutional buildings

A new OSHA educational booklet addresses concerns about poor indoor air quality and the impact it has to the health of office workers and other building occupants. Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings provides building owners, managers, employers and workers with recommendations to prevent or minimize IAQ problems in commercial and institutional buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency identified IAQ as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Web page on Indoor Air Quality provides more information on addressing IAQ hazards.

Michaels speaks at Chamber of Commerce meeting
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Labor Relations Committee.
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Labor Relations Committee.

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels spoke May 5 in Washington, D.C., before the Labor Relations Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Michaels told the audience of approximately 100 how OSHA standards benefit businesses as well as workers. He explained that the Congressional Office of Technologic Assessment examined eight OSHA standards and found in almost every case, the cost of compliance was a fraction of the agency's original estimate, and the standard did not have an adverse effect on the industry.

"American entrepreneurs are the most creative problem solvers in the world," Michaels said. "They find ways to meet the standard and protect workers--ways that we could not have predicted before the standard went into effect. The empirical evidence is clear: OSHA doesn't kill jobs. OSHA stops jobs from killing workers."

Michaels stresses injury and illness prevention at Air National Guard safety summit Michaels stresses injury and illness prevention at Air National Guard safety summit

OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels spoke May 3 at the Air National Guard's Executive Safety Summit in Orlando, Fla. Michaels spoke to more than 1,000 ANG senior leaders and safety professionals praising the ANG's commitment to safety and emphasizing the importance of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs.

Michaels told the audience that an Injury and Illness Prevention Program offers a framework to help employers find and fix hazards in their workplaces--before their workers get hurt.

Michaels received a memento of his participation in the summit from Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, III, USAF. Wyatt said OSHA's guidance and programs are an integral part of daily operations and safety throughout the ANG enterprise.

OSHA Alliance participant publicizes North American Occupational Safety and Health Week
A billboard in Conyers, Ga., displays a winning entry from the Poster Contest.
A billboard in Conyers, Ga., displays a winning entry in the American Society of Safety Engineers' Kids “Safety-on-the-Job” Poster Contest.

Thirty-two of OSHA's national Alliances supported North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, held May 1-7. NAOSH Week is an annual event designed to underscore the importance of safety and health in the workplace. OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels spoke at Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C., and congratulated the winners of the American Society of Safety Engineers' Kids "Safety-on-the-Job" Poster Contest. Lamar Outdoor Advertising, an Alliance Program participant, donated billboard space to feature the winning ASSE posters and runners up in locations in or near the winners' hometowns. Other Alliances also supported NAOSH Week by issuing press releases with information on NAOSH Week, publishing articles in their organizations' newsletters or journals, and disseminating the 2011 NAOSH Week poster to their membership.

OSHA summit in Northern California addresses Asian American and Pacific Islander worker safety and health

OSHA's Region IX office in San Francisco hosted a May 10 worker protection summit for the San Francisco Bay Area's robust and diverse population of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Federal, state and local agencies joined with community and faith-based organizations to discuss worker protections, including health and safety concerns, wages and overtime pay protections, and employment discrimination.

Ken Nishiyama Atha
Region IX's Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha gives his opening remarks.

The more than 150 attendees of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Worker Protection Summit were addressed by speakers including Pat Shiu, director of DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and a member of the Federal Interagency Working Group of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, newly appointed California OSHA Chief Ellen Widess and newly appointed California labor commissioner Julie Su. The event also featured two interactive panel discussions. One was with representatives from DOL agencies including OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as Cal/OSHA. The second panel comprised representatives from local community organizations including the Alameda Labor Council, Worksafe, Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley, Asian Immigrant Women Advocates and Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach. At the conclusion of the event, a workshop was held to assist anyone wishing to file a complaint.

OSHA co-hosts Philadelphia's fourth-annual Youth Safety in Construction Day
Welcome remarks and student safety briefing at Youth Safety in Construction Day.
Welcome remarks and student safety briefing at Youth Safety in Construction Day.

Donning work boots, hard hats and reflective vests, 45 students from Eastern Center for Arts and Technology and Central Montgomery Vocational School in Montgomery County, Pa., learned first-hand about the importance of construction safety during the fourth-annual Youth Safety in Construction Day. The May 10 event was hosted by OSHA, Gilbane Building Company and the Philadelphia Building Trades. Held at the construction site of the future Albert Einstein Healthcare Network and Montgomery Health System's New Regional Medical Center in Norristown, Pa., Youth Safety in Construction Day students participated in interactive demonstrations on fall, electrical and rigging safety, and operated a crane simulator provided by a local engineering union.

Employers in Washington state must now fix serious hazards during an appeal

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill into law April 15 that requires employers to correct serious safety and health violation hazards even if they file an appeal of their citation. There will be a process where employers may file for a stay of abatement and the Department of Labor & Industries and a higher appeals board must both adopt rules governing this process. Under existing rules as in most states, if the Division of Occupational Safety and Health cites an employer for a serious workplace safety violation, the employer has no legal obligation to correct the hazard until all appeal rights are exhausted. This can take months or even years and leaves many workers exposed to uncorrected hazards during the appeal process. For example, when an employer was cited in 2006 for several serious violations after a worker suffered lead poisoning, the company did not correct the hazards while it appealed the citation several times. During that time, a subsequent worker also suffered lead poisoning. See thenews release for more information.

High-hazard industries in Michigan invited to request on-site consultations to improve workplace safety and health

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is inviting employers to participate in the state's seventh annual "Take a Stand Day" June 8. The MIOSHA program is dedicating more than 125 professional staff to visit Michigan high-hazard industries targeted by the MIOSHA Strategic Plan. MIOSHA safety and health professionals--including compliance staff, outreach consultants, managers, and supervisors--will be scheduled on "Take a Stand Day" to provide on-site consultations. MIOSHA's free On-site Consultation Service inspects small business workplaces at the request of employers to help them identify and correct potential safety and health hazards. Participants must agree to correct all serious violations. More than 1,300 employers have participated in "Take a Stand Day" since 2005. Employers wishing to participate in this year's event must submit their requests by May 25. See the flyer for more information.

Water, rest and shade: Protecting workers from heat-related illness Water, rest and shade: Protecting workers from heat-related illness

OSHA has a national outreach initiative to educate workers and their employers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat. OSHA is leveraging 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."

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. Multiple copies of publications can be ordered from OSHA's Web site. 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.

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. See the contest Web site for more information.

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

Throughout 2011, OSHA is presenting a series of materials and activities to celebrate the agency's 40th anniversary. Visit the OSHA at 40 Web page for resources including a short video using old and new footage to highlight key moments in the agency's history, an interactive timeline and a commemoration of the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire. The page also links to an anniversary message from OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels as well as a video of his participation in a panel discussion on the nation's progress in worker safety and health over the past forty years and the challenges that lie ahead.

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