|June 17, 2013 · Volume 12, Issue 12|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
With temperatures rising across the nation, check out OSHA's Heat Safety Tool mobile app to calculate the Heat Index for your location and get reminders about how to prevent heat illness on the job. The popular app has been downloaded by more than 72,000 people since its launch in 2011. Available in English or Spanish on your smart phone, the app is one of many resources that OSHA is offering as part of its 2013 outreach campaign.
Through OSHA's alliance with Lamar Advertising, electronic billboards positioned along busy Interstate 95 in Stratford, Conn. are delivering heat safety messages in English and Spanish, to an estimated 100,000 travelers every day.
For information and resources on heat illness, visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.
OSHA is reminding compliance officers to check for adequate means of egress at all workplaces. This follows the recent disastrous fire and explosion that killed at least 119 workers on June 4, 2013, at a poultry processing plant in China.
A memorandum sent to the agency's regional administrators and state plan designees directs field inspectors, when conducting inspections, to be mindful of whether employers have provided and maintained adequate means of egress from work areas. This includes checking that an adequate number of exit routes are provided, that the exit routes are free and unobstructed, and that exit doors are not locked. See OSHA's Emergency Exit Routes Fact Sheet (PDF*) for more information on employers' responsibilities to ensure that their workers are able to exit the workplace quickly and safely.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently published an interim Health Hazard Evaluation (PDF*) describing ergonomic risk factors, musculoskeletal disorders and traumatic injuries among workers at a poultry processing plant in South Carolina. Through evaluations and nerve conduction testing of more than 300 workers, NIOSH found that 42 percent of workers had carpal tunnel syndrome, and most workers at the plant reported pain, numbness and tingling, particularly in their hands and wrists. The report also contained a number of recommended actions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
As part of OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Falls in construction, the agency is partnering with industry and community partners to sponsor safety stand-downs to raise awareness about the hazards of falls -- the leading cause of jobsite deaths in the construction industry.
Last week, OSHA, the Builders Association, Construction Safety Council, the Chicago Area Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, construction contractors and other safety and health organizations sponsored numerous 30-minute safety stand downs at construction sites throughout the Chicago area. From June 24 to July 3, OSHA's Region II is inviting the construction industry to participate in a voluntary “Falls in Construction” Stand-Down. For more information on how to plan a stand-down, contact the OSHA office nearest you.
To learn more about OSHA's Fall Prevention campaign, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls. Order or download educational materials by calling OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visiting OSHA's Publications page. Also visit http://www.stopconstructionfalls.com for more resources.
True North Hotel Group Inc., an Overland Park, Kansas-based hotel management company, was ordered the by U.S. Labor Department to pay $22,225 in back wages and damages to a former employee who was terminated from a Massachusetts location after raising workplace safety concerns. After OSHA’s investigation found merit to the complaint, True North agreed to a nationwide settlement in which it will immediately post OSHA English and Spanish whistleblower materials, and provide annual training on whistleblower rights and employer responsibilities to all managers and supervisors. The company will also provide training materials to all newly hired or promoted managers.
Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,420 workers experienced heat-related illness and 61 workers died. Although outdoor workers in a variety of industries are susceptible to heat illness, those in construction and agriculture are the most vulnerable.
In a separate investigation, OSHA ordered Metro North Commuter Railroad Co. to pay more than $6,800 in damages and attorney’s fees to an employee who was terminated in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The employee slipped and fell from a ladder and immediately reported his injury to Metro North. Days later, the employee received a letter of warning from the railroad stating he had violated a safety rule. OSHA’s investigation found that Metro North had not disciplined other employees who committed the same violation, making it appear that this employee was singled out for reporting his injury.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the FRSA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.
OSHA has cited three construction contractors for alleged willful and serious safety violations that exposed workers to electrical hazards at a construction site in Valley Stream, N.Y. Proposed penalties total $465,410. Electrocution hazards accounted for the largest of the fines after inspectors from OSHA's Long Island Area Office found that workers performed operations close to energized overhead power lines. Other citations issued included violations for not training workers on electrocution hazards, marking overhead power lines with warning signs and having cranes inspected by a qualified person after assembly. Read the news release for more information and a full list of citations.
OSHA has cited Austin Powder Co. in McArthur, Ohio, for multiple violations of OSHA process safety management standards. The commercial explosives company faces proposed fines of $258,000.
OSHA initiated an inspection in December 2012 under the Site-Specific Targeting Plan, which targets businesses that record a higher than average incident and illness rate. The agency conducted a second inspection under the national emphasis program for covered chemical facilities. Violations include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits, inadequate labeling of hazardous chemical containers, lack of machine guarding and fall protection and violations of electrical safety standards. A full list of citations are available in the news release.
To facilitate more collaborative research on workers' compensation to better understand workplace injuries and illnesses, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently established a new Center for Workers' Compensation Studies. Learn more about the new Center here.
To minimize the health risks related to workers' exposure to carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has proposed a new recommended exposure limit. NIOSH’s recommendation appears in the agency's latest Current Intelligence Bulletin, along with a review of 54 related laboratory animal studies and other toxicological data. Nanomaterials are found in hundreds of products, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial and biomedical applications.
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard is now aligned with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. This update to the Hazard Communication Standard provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The first deadline in the implementation phase is Dec. 1, 2013, the date by which employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet.
OSHA has prepared a number of additional materials that explain the new changes to the requirements of the HCS, including QuickCards, a training fact sheet (PDF*), a list of frequently asked questions and a brief (PDF*) on labels and pictograms. These and other materials are available on OSHA's Hazard Communications page.
OSHA's Boston, New York and Philadelphia regional offices have signed an alliance with the Philippine Consulate General of New York to work together to protect the health and safety of Filipino workers in the region. The alliance establishes a collaborative relationship to provide Philippine nationals and their employers with information and guidance to promote workers’ rights. The alliance will focus on education programs on hazards in home healthcare, a field in which many Filipinos are employed in the northeastern United States.
For more information on OSHA's alliance program, visit www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html.
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health met last week at the Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C., to advise OSHA on workplace safety and health issues. The meeting focused on the protection of temporary workers. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels discussed OSHA's plans to use enforcement, outreach and training to protect temporary workers. Ben Seigel from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy gave a presentation outlining the data and research on the numbers of temporary workers in the economy and the industries where they are employed – including findings that temporary workers are more likely to be injured on the job. The committee's discussion and recommendations will be posted on OSHA’s NACOSH webpage in the near future.
OSHA is reminding employers in the pyrotechnics industry about protecting workers from hazards associated with the manufacturing, sales and display of fireworks.
OSHA's Pyrotechnics Safety and Health Topics Web page addresses common hazards and solutions to these hazards. The page includes precautions employers should take in fireworks sales and display to help protect their workers, and a video demonstrating best practices for retail sales and manufacturers based on National Fire Protection Association consensus standards.
OSHA's new Construction Incidents Investigation Engineering Reports Web page provides original investigations of structure collapses and other incidents conducted by the agency's Directorate of Construction. The page was created to help employers, workers, construction engineers, project managers, and regulatory bodies identify problems in construction design, project management, and management of field engineering changes. OSHA's hope is that the information provided will help reduce future incidents, fatalities and serious injuries.
Many of the incidents described resulted in one or more worker fatalities, and most of them resulted in multi-million dollar property loss, lawsuits, or settlements. Each investigation was performed at the request of an OSHA field office or state-run occupational safety and health agency as part of an enforcement inspection.
Wildfires can start and spread quickly, particularly during dry conditions. A Spanish-language summary of how workers and employers can prepare for a wildfire and to protect themselves in the wildfire's aftermath is now available on the Spanish-language version of the Wildfires page. This webpage is part of OSHA's recent efforts to provide limited English proficiency and Spanish-speaking workers with timely information in a language and vocabulary that they can understand.
A new OSHA Fact Sheet (PDF*) describes some common program elements of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and how to implement them. These systematic programs allow employers on an ongoing basis to find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt or become ill. These proactive processes can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and illnesses and can alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. The fact sheet explains the major elements of an effective program, which include management leadership; worker participation; hazard identification, assessment, prevention and control; education and training and program evaluation and improvement. See OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page for more information.
Learn more about health insurance choices that will become available when key parts of the health care law take effect. Visit Healthcare.gov for information on a new way to buy health insurance for yourself, your family or your small business that offers more choice, more transparency, and more control over your health insurance options.
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