|July 1, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 13||
|In this issue
OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on weather service alerts to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the United States. NOAA is also including important worker safety information on its Heat Watch Web page. Each year, thousands of outdoor workers experience heat 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.
To bring greater awareness to this issue, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels participated in a June 21 conference call with meteorologists and other television and radio reporters who cover the weather to discuss how to alert outdoor workers and their employers about the dangers of extreme heat. Solis and Michaels informed the meteorologists and reporters about OSHA's National Heat Illness Campaign (see below), offered recommendations for protection and encouraged news coverage to help spread to viewers and listeners everywhere the simple message: water, rest, shade.
OSHA is requesting public comments on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking announced in the June 22 Federal Register that updates two aspects of the agency's recordkeeping and reporting requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 20, 2011. See the Federal Register notice for details on how to submit comments.
Under the proposal, employers would be required to report to OSHA any work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours, and work-related amputations within 24 hours. Under the current regulation, employers are required to report any work-related fatality and only work-related in-patient hospitalizations of three or more workers and are not required to report amputations.
OSHA is also proposing to update Appendix A of the recordkeeping rule (Part 1904 Subpart B) that lists industries partially exempt from the requirements to maintain work-related injury or illness logs because of their relatively low injury and illness rates. The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system used in the current list of industries would be replaced by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) used by most federal agencies. See the news release and Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
declarations at a June 16 ceremony that will better protect the rights of Guatemalans and Nicaraguans working in the United States. OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels and Nancy J. Leppink, acting administrator of DOL's Wage and Hour Division, also signed agreements to implement the declarations. "Individuals from Guatemala and Nicaragua make important contributions to the U.S. economy, and their workplace rights should be protected," Solis said. "I am pleased that the U.S., Guatemalan and Nicaraguan governments are working together to help make that happen."
OSHA will continue efforts to improve workplace safety and health conditions while simultaneously providing outreach and assistance to Spanish-speaking workers and employers. Additionally, through OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division, DOL will be better able to identify problems experienced by migrant workers and to target labor law enforcement efforts. For more information, see the news release, available in English or Spanish.
As July 4th approaches, OSHA is reminding employers of the workplace hazards associated with fireworks manufacturing, storage, transportation, display and retail sales. Resources addressing common hazards and controls for both the retail sales and display of fireworks are available on the OSHA Assistance for the Pyrotechnics Industry Web page. Pyrotechnics include many devices to launch, detonate, or initiate an explosive material. OSHA's Pyrotechnics Industry page includes links to lists--available as posters and pocket-sized cards--of top 10 precautions employers should take in fireworks sales and display to help keep their workers safe on the job and prevent workplace injuries and fatalities. The site also includes OSHA Safety Guidelines for Display Fireworks Sites, to advise display fireworks operators and other affected employers of procedures to help ensure that display fireworks are used safely.
OSHA signed a memorandum of understanding June 16 with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizing the importance of close cooperation and collaboration between the FDA and OSHA--two enforcement agencies responsible for preventing injuries and illnesses. To better protect both workers and consumers, the two agencies have agreed to share relevant information obtained during inspections of facilities where food is produced, processed or held.
Both agencies developed and implemented formal communications procedures and processes, including staff training. The training covered each agency's mission and responsibilities, what each agency regulates and how to identify the types of situations each agency would like employees to watch for and report. "The intent of the training program was to share information that may assist each agency. This is not an attempt to make OSHA inspectors become FDA Investigators or vice- versa. This training is intended to raise everyone's awareness level so that information can be shared," said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. "Our combined efforts to share information on possible violations of OSHA and FDA standards will help minimize the potential for injuries, illnesses and deaths."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the National Toxicology Program's (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC), one of the two cancer lists referenced in OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). As a result, employers that manufacture, distribute, or use any of the eight chemicals with new or updated listings in the 12th RoC need to determine if the changes have any impact on their existing hazard communications programs. The 12th RoC added two substances--formaldehyde and aristolochic acids--to its list of known human carcinogens, and six substances--captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), certain inhalable glass wool fibers, o-nitrotoluene, riddelliine (a botanical, not be confused with the drug Ritalin) and styrene--to its list of chemicals and biological agents that are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. For chemicals like styrene and formaldehyde, which are already listed as carcinogens by the NTP or other organizations, the impact of the listings in the 12th RoC is likely to be minimal because many of the HCS requirements have already been triggered by the previous listings.
Chemicals listed in the RoC are considered carcinogens under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard. Therefore, manufacturers and importers of a chemical or a product containing a chemical listed in the RoC must list the chemical on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) if it is present at a concentration of 0.1% or greater when the product has not been tested as a whole, and they must include warning information about cancer in the MSDS. Chemicals listed on the RoC that are present at less than 0.1% must also be listed if they could be released from the product in concentrations that could present a health risk to workers. The MSDS must also indicate that the NTP lists the chemical as a carcinogen.
Employers that use chemicals with new or updated cancer listings in the RoC or products that contain these chemicals should review incoming MSDSs for new information and must train workers about any new chemical or product hazards. Employers must also look at how the chemical or product is used in their workplaces and make sure that the precautions and protective equipment they require are sufficient to protect workers from anticipated exposures. See the news release for more information about the 12th Report on Carcinogens and OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Page on Carcinogens to learn more about employer responsibilities to protect workers from exposure to these hazardous substances.
OSHA is suing CMM Realty Inc. in Columbia, S.C., for allegedly firing an employee who reported workplace and environmental concerns regarding asbestos at one of the company's worksites. In November 2010, OSHA enforced the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Air Act by ordering the company to reinstate the individual and pay him $56,222 in compensatory damages and back wages. OSHA is now suing the company in federal court for violating Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which forbids companies from discriminating against employees who file a complaint. See the news release for more information.
Under the various whistleblower provisions enacted by Congress, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to an employer or to the government. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, as well as 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws; trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, workplace safety and health regulations; and consumer product safety laws. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.
OSHA issued a new compliance directive June 22 that updates the agency's directive for administering Corporate-Wide Settlement Agreements (CSAs) with employers. The new guidelines are part of the agency's emphasis on using corporate-wide or enterprise-wide settlement agreements as part of its strategy for leveraging limited resources to accomplish the broadest possible compliance.
"OSHA has made limited use of CSAs in recent years," said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. "However, we believe that the revised directive will be an effective tool to secure worker safety and health protections. Through an employer's formal agreement to abate serious hazards at multiple facilities, CSAs are an improvement over traditional enforcement measures that could take much longer."
The new directive emphasizes CSAs as a strategy for leveraging the agency's resources to accomplish the greater compliance. OSHA has used CSAs as a compliance tool to more effectively address specific topics for employers who have a significant pattern of non-compliance with the OSH Act across multiple site locations including cases that fall under the increased scrutiny of the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). Agreements are now required to include a termination date or sunset clause with a maximum of two years from the settlement date. OSHA posts Corporate-wide Settlement Agreements on its Web site.
OSHA recently initiated Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs) in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi focused on reducing fatalities and serious injuries related to powered industrial trucks. Inspections conducted under these LEPs will primarily focus on operator training, maintenance and repair, and the pathways the trucks travel to ensure clear visibility and determine any possible struck-by hazards. The LEPs began May 29 and will continue until Sept. 30, 2012, unless extended.
LEPs are enforcement strategies designed and implemented at the Regional Office or Area Office levels. These programs are intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers in the Office's jurisdiction.
OSHA and DOL's Wage and Hour Division will host the New York Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Worker Protection Summit July 9 at Flushing Town Hall in Flushing, N.Y. The summit is co-sponsored by community service and advocacy organizations, membership-based organizations and labor unions representing AAPI workers. This is a unique opportunity to build bridges between government agencies and workers in the community, and to discuss workplace safety and health issues, workplace wage and hour issues, worker rights and how to voice concerns when those rights are violated. Simultaneous translation will be provided in Chinese and Korean to facilitate communication. See the event flyer for more information.
OSHA will hold a meeting July 19-20 of the Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH) at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar. Work groups will meet July 19 and the full committee will meet July 20. The MACOSH agenda will include discussions on single and multi-piece rim wheels; working safely around radiation; person in water (man overboard); fire watch responsibilities; ventilation safety; selection of welding shade; safe entry and work in vessels' sewage tanks; best practices in eye injury reduction; electrical safety; and injury and illness prevention programs. MACOSH meetings are open to the public. Individuals have until July 10 to submit comments and requests to speak by mail, fax or online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. See the Federal Register notice for details.
OSHA cited Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. and two of its maintenance contractors $254,900 and cited them with 25 safety violations at Cooper's Tupelo, Miss., plant, including exposing workers to hazards associated with combustible dust. OSHA opened a December 2010 inspection in Tupelo following an inspection at the company's Findlay, Ohio, plant that uncovered multiple workplace hazards.
Cooper was fined for 14 violations that included willfully disregarding requirements to provide workers with protection from fires and explosions in the plant's ductwork, particle size separators, dust collectors and conveyor systems, and to install equipment and use wiring methods that were approved specifically for hazardous locations. Other violations included failing to replace or repair defective safety latches on a hoist, failing to use a standard guardrail to protect employees from dangerous equipment, and allowing combustible dust to accumulate in the handling systems.
Two maintenance contractors working with Cooper, JESCO Maintenance Corp. and IH Services, were cited with a total of 11 violations that included allowing explosive carbon black to accumulate; exposing workers to electrical hazards; and allowing the wiring and installations of equipment in hazardous locations not designed or approved for those locations. See the news release for more information.
OSHA fined Bontrager Excavating LTD in Uniontown, Ohio, $157,710 and cited the company for two alleged willful, two serious and one repeat safety violation for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. An inspection was initiated after one worker was killed and another injured in a trench collapse.
OSHA inspectors found that Bontrager showed plain indifference to worker safety and disregard for the law's requirements by willfully exposing its employees to trenching and excavation hazards in trenches that were not adequately protected to prevent cave-ins. During the installation of sewer lines in a residential neighborhood, a trench wall collapse resulted in the death of a foreman and injury to another worker. OSHA issued Bontrager a repeat violation for failing to provide a safe means of exit to employees working inside a trench. The company was cited for the same violation in 2007. In addition, inspectors found that the company had exposed workers to the risk of death or serious physical harm by failing to safely determine the location of underground utilities and to ensure a trench shield system was no more than 2 feet off the bottom of a trench floor.
OSHA has placed Bontrager Excavating in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. See the news release for more information.
OSHA aims to reduce worker exposures to safety and health hazards through the renewal of an Alliance with the Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration Institute (SWRInstitute).
The OSHA and SWRInstitute Alliance will continue to focus on advancing workplace safety and health by providing SWRInstitute members and others in the sealant, waterproofing and restoration industry--including small businesses--with guidance and training to help protect workers from hazards such as falls, exposure to chemicals, and confined spaces. See the news release for more information.
Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. These groups include unions, consulates, trade or professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions.
With an injury and illness rate more than three times the national average for companies in its industry, the management of ALMACO, a family-run manufacturer of agricultural research equipment located in Nevada, Iowa, realized that something had to be done. The company contacted OSHA's free On-site Consultation Program, which inspects small business workplaces at the request of employers to help them identify and correct potential safety and health hazards.
By correcting serious hazards identified by OSHA consultants and by developing and implementing a safety management program, ALMACO was able to significantly improve protection for its employees and enhance the company's safety culture. ALMACO started with correcting fall hazards, unprotected machinery and electrical hazards. ALMACO also made design modifications to their products to allow for safer assembly and reduced the amount of grinding they do by hand by purchasing automated equipment. In addition, ALMACO addressed ergonomic issues and reduced sprains and strains by purchasing lifting equipment and improved safety and housekeeping. As a result of these and other workplace safety and health improvements, ALMACO lowered its injury and illness rate to less than half the national industry average and was approved by OSHA for participation in the On-site Consultation Program's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes employers who operate exemplary safety and health management systems.
"It's not about dollars and cents; it's about people's lives," said Christian Clem, President of Operations at ALMACO. "It's about showing up for work in the morning and going home at the end of the day in the exact same status, and that's not just lip service for us--we take it to heart, and we're really serious about it." See the online success story for more information.
Michigan OSHA (MIOSHA), the Michigan Attorney General, and Davenport Masonry Inc. negotiated a global settlement agreement resolving safety violations and criminal charges stemming from the death of a 32-year-old Davenport Masonry worker. A global settlement is one that addresses civil and criminal penalties. Leo Felty Jr. fell 40 feet to the ground from scaffolding while performing wall repairs on an addition to the University of Michigan's Museum of Art in Ann Arbor. According to MIOSHA standards, the scaffold should have had a guardrail installed on all open sides and been fully planked. MIOSHA cited Davenport Masonry for four separate violations of construction safety standards, totaling $61,600 in fines.
The Michigan Attorney General filed a criminal charge against Davenport Masonry for causing the death of a worker. Under the MIOSH Act, an employer found guilty of such a charge shall be convicted of a felony and fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to one year. After the Attorney General's Office consulted with Felty's family, it reached an agreement with Davenport to resolve the criminal charges and MIOSHA citations.
Under the terms of the agreement, Davenport Masonry must implement an enhanced scaffold safety program to improve the protections provided to its employees. As part of the agreement, Davenport must also accept a single citation, pay a $10,000 fine and place an additional $78,000 into accounts established in the names of Felty's three minor children. Under the agreement, the criminal case against Davenport will be placed under diversion for a one-year period. If Davenport Masonry has not been cited by MIOSHA for willfully violating any Construction Safety Standard or rules pertaining to scaffolding safety at the conclusion of this period, the criminal case may be dismissed. See the Spring 2011 MIOSHA News for more information.
A new publication, OSHA-At-A-Glance En Español [PDF], provides a brief and clear overview of OSHA's role in protecting the safety and health of workers. The document includes information on employer responsibilities and worker rights, as well as OSHA standards, inspections, help for employers (such as free On-site Consultations, compliance assistance and cooperative programs) and training courses. OSHA-At-A-Glance also explains who OSHA covers and how to contact the agency.
OSHA initiated its national Heat Illness Campaign 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. Online resources include educational materials a curriculum for workplace training and print ads in color and black & white, all available in English and Spanish. Multiple copies of heat campaign publications can be ordered from OSHA's Web site.
Are you interested in a career with the Department of Labor? DOL has job opportunities throughout the country, including openings in OSHA for Industrial Hygienists and a Regional Administrator in Philadelphia.
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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Editor: Richard De Angelis, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999.
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