|July 15, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 14|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
Every year, dozens of workers are killed by heat, and thousands more experience heat-related illnesses. With summer heat on the rise across the nation, workers and employers are turning to OSHA's Heat Safety Tool for help staying safe in the heat. In all, more than 148,000 users have downloaded this life-saving app since its launch in August 2011.
As temperatures soared well past 100 degrees in Phoenix on July 1, OSHA staff joined representatives from the Phoenix City Council, Clear Channel Outdoor, Lamar Advertising, Christy Signs, the American Society of Safety Engineers, and the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health to promote OSHA’s "Water. Rest. Shade." campaign. Lamar and Clear Channel have posted heat campaign billboards across the country.
In a July 7 article in The Washington Post, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels explained employers' obligation to protect construction crews, road workers, farm workers, trash collectors and others who are working outdoors this summer in high heat — including temporary workers who often are not used to working in heat and need to be acclimated. The Post article highlighted OSHA's interactive map that plots heat-related fatalities among outdoor workers between 2008 and 2013.
For more information and free resources, 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.
On June 20, a construction worker taking down a Blockbuster Video building in New Jersey was trapped and killed when the last standing wall collapsed on top of him. Six months earlier, a 25-year-old construction worker in Chicago was struck and killed by pieces of falling concrete while conducting renovations on a shopping mall. A year ago, six people were killed and 14 injured in Philadelphia when a four-story building undergoing demolition collapsed. All these deaths could have been prevented.
OSHA recently launched updates to its Demolition Web page that focuses on the serious hazards common in demolition operations. The page includes information safe practices that must be followed to to prevent injuries and fatalities, and a link for stakeholders to share stories about demolition safety. Read the news release for more information.
OSHA has entered into an agreement with McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises Inc. and James T. Lind, company president, resolving a lawsuit alleging a worker was wrongfully terminated for filing an OSHA complaint. OSHA inspected the Pennsylvania industrial park and terminal facility after the worker raised safety concerns. Following OSHA's inspection, the worker was initially reassigned duties but later fired.
OSHA found the company violated Section 11(c) of the OSH Act when it fired the worker in retaliation for his safety complaint. The judgment provides the worker $100,000 in damages and the removal of all disciplinary action. Read the news release for more information.
OSHA has also reached a settlement with Donald Pottern, doing business as Crown Furniture, after the agency found merit to a worker's complaint that he had been fired by his employer two days after he filed a complaint with OSHA alleging safety and health hazards at the store.
Pottern will pay a former employee $12,500 and take other corrective action to resolve an anti-discrimination lawsuit filed against the West Springfield, Mass., furniture retailer by the U.S. Department of Labor after an OSHA investigation. To ensure payment, Pottern has provided the department with a security interest in a car that he owns, so that the department may lawfully secure possession and sell it to satisfy unpaid portions of the judgment, if necessary. Pottern must also expunge the former employee's personnel record and provide a written, neutral job reference for him, if requested. For more information, read the news release.
"Every worker has the right to call attention to workplace safety and health issues without the fear of retaliation," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "These settlements are a testament to OSHA's unwavering commitment to intervene legally when workers are the victims of a wrongful termination."
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of laws in various industries. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.
OSHA has cited Burgos Construction Corp. with willful, repeat and serious violations after agency inspectors observed workers at four Florida worksites performing residential construction without using a fall protection system.. Proposed penalties total $228,690.
"Burgos Construction has been cited seven times in the past two years for not providing fall protection for its employees engaged in residential construction. Company officials are fully aware of the fall protection requirements," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa. "Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Allowing workers exposure to a fatal fall or serious injury demonstrates the employer's lack of commitment to worker safety."
Willful violations were for failing to provide fall protection at each of the four job sites. Other violations included failing to train workers on fall protection and allowing workers to access a second floor stairwell that did not have handrails on both sides. See the news release for more details and for information on fall prevention.
OSHA has cited Texas-based Sterling Shipyard LP with 16 serious, repeat and failure-to-abate violations for continuing to expose workers to safety hazards including dangerous machinery, high noise levels without proper hearing protection and falls from heights above 6 feet. Proposed penalties total $305,100.
"By failing to abate violations cited from an earlier inspection, Sterling chose to ignore worker safety and expose employees to hazards that could lead to illness, injury or death. OSHA will not tolerate such negligence," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South Area Office.
OSHA originally cited the barge builder in October 2013 for 13 serious safety and health violations with a fine of $62,550. Sterling failed to respond to citations, so OSHA conducted a follow-up inspection in January 2014. Inspection results revealed Sterling had not corrected several of the hazardous conditions previously cited. Current violations also include failure to equip surfaces 5 feet or higher with guardrails, train workers on forklift operation and inspect cranes. Read the news release for more information.
OSHA and Project BEST (Building Efficiency by Striving Together), an Ohio Valley based construction industry-labor management organization, have formed an alliance to help protect workers from the four top construction hazards: falls, struck-by, caught-in (*PDF) and electrocution. The alliance will work to create and present effective training programs, with a focus on promoting cooperative relationships between labor and management and encouraging worker participation to achieve a safe and healthful workplace. Read the news release for more information.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections.
For the Oklahoma Department of Labor’s On-site Consultation Program, a long-time priority has been to recognize safety and health excellence. This year the program partnered with the Oklahoma Safety Council to offer a "Superheroes of Safety&" video contest for employers to showcase their successes and best practices, and to tell their safety and health stories in a way that will educate and inspire other employers to do the same.
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 hazard bulletin on tree care work is now available online in both English and Spanish. The recently posted bulletin is the first in a series of materials about the serious dangers in this industry where workers are killed and injured from preventable exposures to falls and falling objects, as well as transportation, electrocution and crushing hazards.
"Too many tree care workers are being hurt or killed by well-known industry dangers that can be prevented if employers take the necessary precautions," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are protected on the job - this includes providing training and making sure workers have the right tools to stay safe."
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership and staff on the DOL blog. Read the latest post by Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels on protecting teens at work. DOL offers the option to receive blog updates by email.
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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