|August 1, 2013 · Volume 12, Issue 15|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
Today, the President signed an Executive Order to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities. Incidents such as the devastating explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas in April are tragic reminders that the handling and storage of chemicals present serious risks that must be addressed. The Executive Order directs Federal agencies to work with stakeholders to improve chemical safety and security through agency programs, private sector initiatives, Federal guidance, standards, and regulations. Read the executive order.
Thomas E. Perez, nominated by President Obama as the nation's 26th Secretary of Labor, was sworn in July 23. Previously assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice and secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Perez brings to the U.S. Department of Labor a commitment to ensure workers' rights to safe and healthful workplaces, fair wages, more opportunity for people with disabilities to contribute productively to the workforce, more opportunity for people to work with the full protection of whistleblower and anti-discrimination laws, and more opportunity to retire with dignity. Visit his Meet the Secretary of Labor Web page.
OSHA and NIOSH issued a hazard alert to encourage employers that use 1-bromopropane to take OSHA and NIOSH have issued a hazard alert to urge employers that use 1-bromopropane to take appropriate steps to protect workers from exposure. Exposure to 1-BP has been associated with damage to the nervous system among workers, and it has been shown to cause reproductive harm in animal studies. The chemical is used in degreasing operations, furniture manufacturing, and dry cleaning. The hazard alert is issued in response to information on the increased use of 1-BP as a substitute for other solvents as well as recent reports of overexposure in furniture manufacturing. For more information, read the news release or hazard alert. See NIOSH's 1- Bromopropane blog for more information on the solvent.
As temperatures continue to soar across the nation, OSHA and the National Weather Service are reminding employers to make sure workers are safe and get enough “Water. Rest. Shade.” On July 18, NWS tweeted that more than 106 million people were under a heat advisory and over 34 million were under an excessive heat warning.
Visit OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention Web page for free resources including educational and training materials on protecting workers from excessive heat hazards, and OSHA's free Heat Safety Tool smartphone app.
Coit Services of Ohio has been ordered to reinstate a worker wrongfully terminated for reporting breaches of lead abatement protocol during home renovation work in Shaker Heights. The restoration and cleaning company must repay more than $161,000 in back wages, damages and fees for violating the Clean Air Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. See the news release for more information. OSHA also ordered Marlborough, Mass.-based Brillo Motor Transportation Inc. to reinstate and pay a worker more than $131,000 after the agency determined he was wrongfully terminated when he refused to drive more than the allowable hours mandated by federal regulations. Read the news release on how the company violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
In a third case, OSHA ordered Metropolitan Aviation LLC to reinstate and pay a pilot more than $215,000 in back wages and damages after firing him for reporting an emergency landing. The air carrier violated the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century. Read the news release for more details on this case and for information on the more than 20 whistleblower statutes under OSHA jurisdiction.
Echo Lake Foods Inc. has been cited by OSHA for 27 safety violations carrying fines of $150,000. Multiple violations of OSHA's process safety management standards for facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals were found at the company's Burlington and Franksville frozen food production plants. OSHA's inspection resulted from complaints received alleging hazards with the ammonia refrigeration systems at those facilities. Read the press release for details about the violations.
OSHA has cited The Western Sugar Cooperative with 17 violations of safety and health standards following a January inspection under the agency's National Emphasis Program for Site-Specific Targeting. The Billings, Mont., sugar producer faces proposed fines of $193,300 for violations including excessive accumulations of combustible coal dust, unguarded elevated platforms, lack of signs on permit spaces and unguarded horizontal shafting. Read the press release for more details and a complete list of citations.
OSHA has cited Pilgrim's Pride Corp. with 11 safety violations for exposing workers to anhydrous ammonia in the refrigeration system. Following a January inspection initiated under OSHA's national emphasis program on Process Safety Management Covered Chemical Facilities, the company was cited for failing to document that the emergency shutdown system for the engine room was designed to ensure that the mechanical ventilation system was activated by an ammonia leak. Other violations included failing to ensure the adequate frequency of self-inspections and tests of ammonia refrigeration equipment and vessels, and failing to provide process hazard analysis, operating procedures, testing procedures and management of change procedures. Proposed fines totaled $170,000. Read the news release for a complete list of citations.
A new OSHA Fall Prevention Training Guide with "tool box talks" is now available at www.osha.gov/stopfalls/trainingresources.html to educate workers on how to stay safe while working on roofs, scaffolding and ladders. A fall prevention safety stand-down is set for August 6 at workplaces all across the Southeastern states, where OSHA will partner with trade, business and civic groups from Kentucky to Florida to provide workers focused training on how to plan ahead and use the right safety equipment. OSHA's latest blog describes how the Agency has adapted fall prevention and other safety and health information to new digital technology and to meet the needs of America's multilingual workforce. To register for the Southeast fall prevention safety stand-down, read the news release, or contact Tom Bosley at 678-237-0400. To more information on the Florida stand-down, read the news release.
The American Staffing Association and OSHA recently teamed up to present a webinar that is now available as a free download on the Web. "Playing it Safe ? Workplace Safety Obligations of Staffing Firms and Their Clients," drew more than 1,500 participants on July 18. In the 60-minute presentation, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels and other OSHA officials explained how staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers. Listen to the Webinar here, access handouts, and view the text of the presentation here.
More than 2,500 people virtually attended the July 25 GHS webinar presented through the Alliance of OSHA and the Society of Chemical Hazard Communication. OSHA staff discussed the training needed to meet the first deadline in the implementation phase, Dec. 1, 2013, and answered questions about the Hazard Communication standard since it was updated last year to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Materials that explain the new changes to the requirements are available on OSHA's Hazard Communications page.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, Aug. 22-23, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes remarks from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, updates on rulemaking projects from OSHA's Directorate of Construction and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. See the new release for additional details on the meeting.
OSHA has launched a campaign to raise awareness about musculoskeletal hazards facing health care workers, providing information to 2,500 employers, unions and associations in Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. These hazards include sprains, strains, soft tissue and back injuries among health care workers responsible for patient care. The campaign will provide information about hazard control methods, such as a zero-lift program to minimize direct patient lifting. Learn more about the campaign in the press release.
OSHA offered compliance assistance to more than 600 local, state and federal responders at an annual emergency preparedness conference June 27 in Manchester, N.H. The conference promoted partnerships among agencies and offices to increase the White Mountain State's ability to coordinate resources and keep response workers safe while managing the impact of hurricanes, fires, floods and other emergencies. Among the nearly 40 exhibitors and presenters, OSHA provided information and resources from its Emergency Response webpage and its Heat Illness and Fall Prevention campaigns. Are you organizing your own local compliance assistance workshop to promote worker safety and health? Contact your area OSHA office today!
OSHA participated in the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Barron County, July 9-11, where many of the 25,000 attendees recounted their experiences working in grain bins and stories of friends who have been engulfed or trapped on the job. OSHA staff demonstrated how a worker can quickly become engulfed in flowing grain, and urged attendees to learn how to work safely by following OSHA standards and guidance. Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins, along with falls, fires, explosions from combustible dust, electrocutions and injuries from improperly guarded machinery. For information on grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use, and other grain-related topics, visit OSHA's grain handling webpage.
To assist small businesses in complying with OSHA standards and protecting workers, OSHA's On-site Consultation provides a free, confidential service for businesses with fewer than 250 employees per site (and no more than 500 employees nationwide). On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Learn more about how to request a free consultation on OSHA's On-Site Consultation page.
The numbers are in following a nationwide three-month safety and health stand-down organized by OSHA and its partners for the upstream oil and gas industry: 183 participating worksites conducted nearly 4,000 voluntary site inspections, identified and corrected more than 8,000 workplace hazards, and provided more than 36,000 workers with training to prevent job-related injuries and illnesses. The stand-down ending in February was sponsored by OSHA, the oil and gas industry's National STEPS Network, and the University of Texas at Arlington's OSHA Education Center. An industry-wide National Oil and Gas Stand-Down is being planned for November 2013. To participate, visit www.oshastanddown.org/INDEX.cfm.
Did you know the Department of Labor is on Twitter and Facebook? Get up-to-the-minute OSHA information and resources by visiting the DOL Facebook page and following #OSHA @USDOL on Twitter. Use Twitter’s Saved Search feature to filter the OSHA hashtag and get one-click access to OSHA-related news. OSHA has also updated its Spanish-language homepage to include a social media toolkit featuring DOL/OSHA links to Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube content.
A new OSHA Fall Prevention Training Guide with "tool box talks" is now available at www.osha.gov/stopfalls/trainingresources.html to educate workers on how to stay safe while working on roofs, scaffolding and ladders. OSHA also recently updated its page on musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.
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.
Are you interested in a career with the Department of Labor? DOL has job opportunities throughout the country, including openings in OSHA.
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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