|July 1, 2013 · Volume 12, Issue 13|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
OSHA and the NOAA National Weather Service are teaming up again to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. Record-breaking heat the past two years has exacerbated heat-related injuries and fatalities in outdoor workers. With the peak of summer heat beginning, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels and NOAA's National Weather Service Director Dr. Louis Uccellini are reminding employers that heat-related illnesses can be prevented.
"Each year, thousands of workers across the country suffer from serious heat-related illnesses," said Michaels. "This can easily be prevented with water, rest, and shade. If outdoor workers take these precautions, it can mean the difference between life and death."
In 2011, 4,420 workers experienced heat illnesses and 61 workers died according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. To help prevent heat related deaths and illness among workers, NOAA will continue to include the following language in its excessive heat warnings that are sent across the country:
For more information and to download OSHA's Heat Safety Tool smartphone app, 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 recently announced a new National Emphasis Program (PDF*) to protect workers from the serious health effects from occupational exposure to isocyanates. Through this NEP, OSHA will focus on workplaces in general, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds in an effort to reduce occupational illnesses and deaths. These chemicals can cause occupational asthma, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and cancer and other conditions that have proved fatal in some cases. See the news release for more information.
ConAgra Foods, Inc. dba Lamb Weston, Inc. has signed a settlement agreement with OSHA to protect workers at five of its frozen food facilities from the release of anhydrous ammonia from refrigeration systems. The agreement protects workers at Idaho, Arkansas, Missouri and Ohio facilities of the Nebraska-based company. It requires ConAgra to implement controls to reduce hazards associated with the release of ammonia, a chemical used to refrigerate foods in industrial factories. See the news release for more information.
OSHA, the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union have agreed to terms of a settlement that will improve safety in postal facilities across the country. The settlement follows negotiations stemming from inspections at 42 Postal Service sites in 2009 and 2010 that found violations of OSHA standards on electrical work practices. USPS contested the citations, and OSHA then sought enterprise-wide relief before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
"As a large employer, with a substantial number of affected employees throughout many different types of facilities, the U.S. Postal Service faced many challenges in improving their electrical safe work program," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "In entering this agreement, OSHA recognizes the Postal Service’s commitment and dedication to worker safety."
Under the settlement, the Postal Service has agreed to pay $100,000 at signing and a suspended payment of $3 million pending full abatement of the hazards, revised its written policies and procedures on electrical work, prohibiting workers from working on electrically energized equipment except for except for a defined set of tasks that can only be performed while equipment is energized, such as troubleshooting and testing. For more information on the agreement, read the news release.
Five seconds; that’s how quickly a worker can become engulfed in flowing grain and be unable to get out. It only takes 60 seconds for a worker to be completely submerged. More than half of all grain engulfments result in death by suffocation. This is why OSHA is working with the grain and agricultural industries and the agricultural community to educate employers and workers about the unique hazards of the grain and feed industry, to prevent injuries and deaths that have been too frequent in the industry. For more information on OSHA's outreach initiative, see the news releases on OSHA's efforts to protect grain handling workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Illninois. Visit OSHA's Grain Handling Web page for more information on topics including common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques and sweep auger use.
Environmental Enterprises Inc. has been cited by OSHA with 22 safety and health violations after a fatal fire and explosion occurred at a Cincinnati waste treatment facility. Two employees were severely burned by the fire, one fatally. Proposed fines total $325,710.
OSHA determined the cause of the fire and explosion to be the ignition of an industrial filter cartridge filled with sodium chlorate that came in contact with incompatible materials resulting in a fire and explosion. Violations involve failing to develop and implement hazardous waste handling procedures, provide new training to employees assigned to handle waste materials and select and ensure the use of proper personal protective equipment. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program as a result of the willful violations found. See the news release for more details.
OSHA has ordered Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. to pay an employee $137,618 in back pay and other damages after the company suspended him following a workplace injury. The employee was seriously injured by a 20-foot section of crane chain while changing defective railcar wheels in the company's Ferndale rail yard.
OSHA's investigation found that the employee had been directed by the mechanical supervisor to change the defective tires in a manner which violated company safety protocols. The agency upheld the employee’s allegation that the railroad issued him a 90-day suspension after he was struck and injured by the crane chain. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act 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. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at www.whistleblowers.gov. Read the news release for more information.
National Electric Coil Co. LP in Brownsville, Texas, has been cited by OSHA with eight safety violations after failing to monitor asbestos exposure and provide adequate procedures to control hazardous energy sources. OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office inspected the facility in January after receiving a complaint. The company was fined $120,000.
Cited violations include failing to perform initial monitoring prior to workers being exposed to asbestos select appropriate respirators, provide appropriate work clothing or protective equipment, provide an asbestos exposure assessment system and utilize wet methods for cleaning asbestos materials. Read the news release for the full list of citations.
OSHA's Chicago area offices partnered with the Builders Association, Construction Safety Council, the Chicago Area Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, construction contractors and other safety and health organizations to sponsor safety stand down on June 12. At 70 construction sites across the Chicago area, 1,500 workers ceased work for about 30 minutes to receive focused training on how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented by planning ahead and using the right safety equipment.
To learn more about OSHA's Fall Prevention campaign, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
OSHA will co-moderate a free webinar with the American Staffing Association at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, July 18, to discuss best practices for protecting temporary workers. To register, visit www.americanstaffing.net/education/ASAPro/2013/jul18.cfm.
The webinar is part of OSHA's new initiative to protect temporary workers—many of whom face the most dangerous working conditions and therefore more vulnerable in the overall workforce. There is a growing body of research showing that temporary workers are at greater risk of workplace injury and illness than non-temps. According to the literature, two of the leading factors that point to increased risk are 1) lack of job information and safety training for temps, who are increasingly employed in dangerous occupations, and 2) employer financial and performance incentives around workers' compensation and other benefits.
At a recent meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels underlined the significance of OSHA's coordinated effort to protect temporary workers. "Given the enormous size of the temporary workforce and these reports of temporary workers being killed on the job, the data on increased injury rates, and our recent high-profile egregious fatality cases, OSHA has announced a concerted initiative to use enforcement, outreach and training to ensure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards," Michaels said. To learn more, read Dr. Michaels' NACOSH remarks.
OSHA is urging employers in the fireworks and pyrotechnics industry to protect workers from hazards while manufacturing, storing, transporting, displaying and selling fireworks for public events. In March 2012, three workers suffered serious burns caused by an explosion at Global Pyrotechnic Solutions Inc. OSHA cited the Dittmer, Mo., company nearly $117,000 for safety violations relating to explosive hazards.
OSHA's pyrotechnics directive, Compliance Policy for Manufacture, Storage, Sale, Handling, Use and Display of Pyrotechnics (PDF*), provides inspection guidance and OSHA requirements as they apply to pyrotechnics facilities and operations. The agency's Web page on the pyrotechnics industry addresses retail sales of fireworks and fireworks displays and includes a video, which demonstrates best industry practices for retail sales and manufacturers based on National Fire Protection Association consensus standards. Read the news release for more information.
OSHA and the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of the Department of Health of Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding on June 19 to work together on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling in their respective jurisdictions. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, and Suzy McDonald, director general for HECS, signed the agreement in which both parties will establish a working group to reduce barriers between the systems responsible for occupational safety and health of workplace chemicals.
OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the GHS in March 2012 to provide a common, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. In the U.S., all employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must conduct new training for workers on the new label elements and safety data sheets by Dec. 1, 2013. See the news release for more information on the agreement, and the OSHA's Hazard Communications page for materials available on the new changes to the requirements of HCS.
OSHA and the Consulate General of the Dominican Republic in Los Angeles have formed an Alliance to protect the safety and health of Dominican nationals and others working in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. The Alliance agreement (y en español) establishes a collaborative relationship to promote workers' rights to a safe and healthful workplace and to help them understand the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. For more information, visit www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html.
OSHA has released three new Spanish-language fact sheets to protect whistleblowers in the aviation and transportation industries. These fact sheets address whistleblower protections for employees of air carriers who report potential aviation safety violations; employees in several other transportation areas including those who report railroad and commercial motor carrier violations; and any employee who reports offenses to the environment at large.
Two additional QuickCards are available for maritime industry workers that address drowning, reefer units in longshoring and at marine terminals, electrical shock and other hazards. These QuickCards are available online on OSHA's Maritime Industry publications page. OSHA publications are available to download at no cost by visiting OSHA's publications page. To order publications, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999.
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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