|July 1, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 13|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
The Department of Labor and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have teamed up again to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. Heat-related injuries and fatalities in outdoor workers continue with record-breaking heat waves over the last three summers. In 2012 alone, at least 31 workers died of heat related illness and 4,120 more were made sick.
In a June 19, 2014 call with meteorologists and weather reporters across the country, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels and NOAA's Deputy Undersecretary Vice Admiral Michael S. Devany discussed the dangers.
"Every year, dozens of workers are killed by heat, and thousands more experience heat-related illnesses," said Michaels. "We have found that the workers who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses are those who are new to outdoor jobs – especially temporary workers – or those that have returned from more than a week away. Workers are particularly at risk if the weather has just gotten hot, and they have not been acclimatized to the heat."
Seasonal workers can be considered new even if they have been working every season for several years. Gradually increasing the workload and giving workers time to acclimate allows them to build tolerance to the heat. This is critically important for workers who are new to working outdoors in the heat, who have been away from working in the heat for a week or more, or at the beginning of a heat wave. Visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention page for more information and to get OSHA's free Heat Safety Tool smartphone app, which has been downloaded more than 138,000 time to date. To order quantities of OSHA's heat illness educational materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.
Workers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to be injured on the job as older workers, and are often unaware of their workplace rights. In 2012, more than 170,000 young workers were injured and 361 were killed. OSHA created its young workers page to help reduce these numbers by providing tailored information and resources on workers’ rights and summer job safety. The page has information on hazards common to retail, food service, maintenance and other industries teens are likely to hold jobs. It also has an online poster that can be printed and displayed to educate both teens and employers that all workers — regardless of age — have the same rights to a safe and healthful workplace.
As part of OSHA’s efforts to raise awareness on protecting teen workers, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels recently addressed the hazard of workplace violence in a June 24 blog post. The previous day, Dr. Michaels participated in a press call on this topic hosted by the Massachusetts Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, an OSHA Susan Harwood Program grantee that has developed innovative peer training for young workers. To learn more, read the MassCOSH news release (PDF*) or listen to an audio recording of the call. Also on the state level, the Oklahoma Labor Department recently held a contest to produce a series of workplace safety videos made by teens for teens.
OSHA has implemented an interim enforcement policy for the new final rule on Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; Electrical Protective Equipment, which becomes effective on July 10, 2014.
A memorandum issued to OSHA's regional offices explains the interim policy, which is in effect until October 31, 2014. The policy delays enforcement of most new requirements for employers who are complying with the existing General Industry rule. For further information, read the memorandum or news release.
Washington state occupational safety and health officials are investigating an explosion that occurred last week at a fireworks facility, killing one worker and injuring two more. In another recent incident, a worker suffered fatal burns caused by an explosion at a fireworks facility. OSHA cited the company more than $45,000 for safety violations relating to explosive hazards.
OSHA is urging the fireworks and pyrotechnics industry to be vigilant in protecting workers from hazards while manufacturing, storing, transporting, displaying and selling fireworks for public events. For information on addressing common hazards in retail sales of fireworks and fireworks displays, including downloadable safety posters and a video, visit OSHA's Pyrotechnics Industry Web page. Read the news release for more information.
Maplewood Beverage Packers LLC and temporary employment agency Corporate Resource Services Corp. in Elizabeth, N.J., have been cited by OSHA for health and safety violations found at the beverage bottling company’s Maplewood plant. An OSHA investigation in December 2013 found willful and repeat violations including failure to use lockout/tagout procedures, provide proper machine guarding, and slip, trip and falls and excessive noise hazards. Proposed penalties total $182,270.
"Host employers and staffing agencies are jointly responsible for ensuring worker safety and health," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office. "Employers must protect all workers from job hazards-both permanent and temporary workers."
The investigation was initiated following a referral from the Maplewood Fire Department after a temporary worker was injured falling from a ladder. For more information about this case and about the joint responsibilities of host employers and staffing firms, read the news release and visit OSHA's Protecting Temporary Workers Web page.
A complaint investigation found workers at Buchman Lumber Co. LLC were exposed to excessive noise and amputation hazards at the Springbrook, Wis., lumber plant. OSHA cited the company for 17 violations and proposed penalties of $145,200. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"OSHA's inspection found multiple violations of procedures that protect workers from the serious hazards of exposure to excessive noise in the workplace and numerous amputation hazards. Employee exposure to excessive noise can lead to permanent, disabling injury," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director for Eau Claire. "In addition, injuries related to machinery and equipment often result in death or permanent disability. Employers have a responsibility to conduct hazard assessments of their workplaces, to implement proper procedures for equipment use, provide the necessary protective equipment and train workers in safe operation."
OSHA's investigation in December 2013 found violations including failure to administer a hearing conservation program, provide eye and face protection to workers exposed to flying wood chips and boards, and implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent machine start-up during maintenance. Read the news release for more details.
OSHA has cited Fresh From Texas Inc., a fresh fruit and vegetable processer for H-E-B Grocery stores and fast food markets, and staffing agency iWorks Personnel Inc. with 18 violations for exposing workers to damaging noise levels and chemical hazards. The joint employers also failed to train machine operators on controlling hazardous energy, exposing them to serious amputation hazards. The proposed fine is $135,200.
"Workers, whether employed directly by the company or as a temporary worker, require proper training on workplace hazards. In this case, both Fresh From Texas and iWorks failed to do so and put workers in danger," said Kelly C. Knighton, OSHA's area director in San Antonio. "Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements, and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health."
Additional violations include failing to guard rotating machine gears and provide safety training on machines, establish a lockout/tagout program and record injuries of temporary workers. See the news release for more information.
After tornadoes struck parts of Nebraska last month, staff from OSHA's area office in Omaha moved quickly to the disaster sites to help recovery workers, employers and the public understand the hazards they may encounter and necessary steps to stay safe and healthy. OSHA staff delivered disaster relief QuickCardsTM and fact sheets on topics such as heat stress and work zone safety in disaster recovery efforts.
OSHA maintains a comprehensive website on keeping disaster site workers safe during tornado cleanup and recovery operations.
On June 18, 2014, OSHA launched a summer-long "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative" campaign to lower fatality rates in the industry. Compliance officers and other OSHA staff across Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia will conduct on-site outreach to educate and encourage employers to continue safe practices. OSHA will send its compliance officers into the field to conduct inspections when unsafe working conditions involving the four main hazards are observed at construction sites: falls, crushing, electrocutions and caught-in-between events. For more information on the summer initiative, read the press release.
The leading cause of death in construction is falls. In June, OSHA's landmark National Safety Stand-down to prevent fatal falls gathered participation from more than 25,000 employers across the country and more than 1 million workers worldwide. To learn more and get free resources on how to stop falls, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
OSHA will conduct a three-day training event July 29-31, 2014, for staff across the federal government responsible for workplace safety and health issues. The training will provide information needed to keep federal workers safe and healthy on the job. A series of half-day seminars will cover heat stress, fall protection, health hazards, electrical hazards and other topics. The event will be held at the OSHA Training Institute in Arlington Heights, Ill. Enrollment will be open until July 23, 2014. Students can access the enrollment form, course descriptions, and other details at www.osha.gov/dep/fap/fedweek_fy14.html. The completed enrollment form must be emailed to OTI Student Services at email@example.com by the July 23 deadline. See the news release for more details.
OSHA has scheduled an informal stakeholder meeting to gather information on how the agency can increase the effectiveness of its Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory Program. NRTLs are independent laboratories that meet OSHA's requirements for performing safety testing and certification of products used in the workplace. The meeting will be held Oct. 22, 2014, in Washington, D.C., and will focus on the use of the private sector to improve timeliness and efficiency of the NRTL recognition process, certification marks, factory and field inspections, and other topics if time permits. Individuals can register to attend the meeting as a presenter, participant or observer. The deadline for registration and submission of comments is July 22, 2014. Read the news release for additional information.
EE Technologies Inc., an electronic component manufacturer in Reno, Nev., reached out to OSHA's free On-site Consultation Program after a programmed inspection as part of a National Emphasis Program on lead. The company uses lead to solder parts.
Recognizing that safety and health is an integral aspect of providing customer service to its partners, EET looked for ways to make the workplace better through regular safety committee meetings, inspections, training and awareness programs. Worker feedback was incorporated into the company’s safety and health management program. The company also passed regular safety and health assessments conducted by Nevada's Safety Consultation and Training Section. This commitment to continuous improvement led to EET attaining acceptance into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program in August 2013. For more information, see the story on EET's success.
On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with small business employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. To request a free consultation, visit OSHA's On-Site Consultation page or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) to find an office in your area.
OSHA's area office in El Paso, Texas, turned to the radio May 30 to communicate with the community's Spanish-speaking employers and workers. Compliance Assistance Specialist Abraham Arzola and Leticia Martinez from the local Mexican Consulate discussed workers' rights, how to file a complaint, and how to prevent heat illness during a live Spanish broadcast on KAMA 750 AM. It was Arzola's third recent radio interview to promote workplace safety.
The El Paso Area Office and the Consulado General de Mexico in El Paso work together through an alliance to reach out to Mexican Nationals throughout the metropolitan area. Radio KAMA has a listening audience in El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, estimated at several thousand Spanish-speaking households.
In May, Arzola also participated in a two-day Mobile Consulate in Amarillo, Texas, with more than six hundred people attending. The event, emphasizing worker safety and health and OSHA resources and services, was organized by the Mexican Consulate in Dallas.
Learn more about OSHA's Alliance Program here.
To improve working conditions for construction workers across the country, OSHA recently signed strategic partnerships in Nebraska, Florida and Arkansas. In Omaha, Neb., Habitat for Humanity of Omaha will collaborate with OSHA to develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health management system, including a fall prevention program, at all Habitat worksites to protect employees, contract workers and volunteer workers. For more information, read the press release. As part of the Daytona International Speedway Front Stretch Redevelopment Project Strategic Partnership in Daytona Beach, Fla., OSHA and Barton and Malow Co. will work together to reduce worker injuries, increase safety and health training, and share best work practices throughout the $400 million development project. In Little Rock, Ark., VCC LLC has partnered with OSHA to protect workers during the construction of the Arkansas State University Student Activity Center. For more information, read the press release and visit OSHA’s Strategic Partnerships page.
OSHA has developed a new agricultural fact sheet and QuickCardTM on the safe use of tripod orchard ladders, which are used by workers such as fruit pickers and landscapers. Many workers have been hurt from slips on rungs, falls, collapsing ladders and being struck by tree branches.
These resources explain the safety precautions employers and supervisors should take to prevent these injuries. The QuickCardTM is available in English and Spanish.
Also now available online is a Spanish-language version (PDF*) of OSHA's Asbestos fact sheet. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen that can cause chronic lung disease as well as lung and other cancers. The fact sheet lists jobs that may expose workers to asbestos hazards and explains the OSHA standards that employers are required to follow to protect workers from those hazards.
To order quantities of these or any other OSHA materials, visit OSHA's Publications Web page or call the Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.
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