|August 15, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 16|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
OSHA has announced it will extend the comment period on the proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses to Oct. 14, 2014. The proposal, published on Nov. 8, 2013, would amend the agency's recordkeeping regulation to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information that employers are already required to keep.
OSHA is soliciting comments on whether to amend the proposed rule to: 1) require that employers inform their employees of their right to report injuries and illnesses; 2) more clearly communicate that any injury and illness reporting requirements established by the employer must be reasonable and not unduly burdensome; and 3) provide OSHA additional means to prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for reporting injuries and illnesses.
Individuals interested in submitting comments may do so electronically at www.regulations.gov, the federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted via mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice and read the news release for more details.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a report on OSHA's review of 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013. OSHA's analysis, described in the CDC's Aug. 8 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, suggests that the primary risk factor for heat fatalities is the lack of acclimatization programs.
Acclimatization is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities that enables workers to gradually increase workloads and exposure to heat by taking frequent breaks for water, rest and shade. Of the 13 enforcement cases that involved worker fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days of working on the job, and four on the worker's first day. In all 20 cases, heat illness prevention programs were found to be incomplete or absent, and no provision was made for acclimatizing new workers to the heat. For more information on the findings of OSHA's review, see the news release.
For free resources and educational materials about the dangers of working in the heat, visit OSHA's Heat Campaign Web page.
In two separate cases, OSHA cited New York medical care providers for failing to protect workers from workplace violence and assault. One case involved Corizon Health Inc., which provides medical, dental and psychiatric services to inmates at the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City. A second case involved Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn.
The agency's Manhattan Area Office initiated the Corizon inspection in response to a complaint. OSHA found that workplace violence incidents involving Corizon employees at Rikers increased from eight in 2011 to 39 in 2013, and six incidents occurred during the course of OSHA's investigation. These included threats, physical assault, a Corizon employee locked in a cell by an inmate and the circulation of a hit list of Corizon staffers targeted by inmates.
"Corizon failed to address the serious problem of assaults against its employees until OSHA began its inspection," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. "Corizon needs to develop and implement an effective, targeted workplace violence prevention program that includes administrative and engineering control, as well as personal protective equipment and training, to reduce the risk of violence against its employees."
A willful violation was cited for failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program for its employees at Rikers, and review and correctly certify OSHA's illness and injury reporting form. See the news release for more details.
In a separate inspection, OSHA determined that employees at the Brookdale medical facility were also exposed to workplace violence hazards. The most serious incident was a Feb.7 assault of a nurse who sustained severe brain injuries. Citations included a willful violation for failing to develop and implement adequate measures to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of physical violence and assaults against employees by patients or visitors. See the news release for more information.
Read more about both cases in a new OSHA blog post about the hazards of workplace violence.
OSHA has cited Rust-Oleum Corp., doing business as Synta Inc., for 33 serious safety and health violations for exposing full-time and temporary workers to crystalline silica dust, amputation and electrical hazards. The proposed penalties total $188,500. Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles can cause silicosis, a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease.
"By failing to correct the violations identified, Rust-Oleum chose to ignore worker safety and exposed employees to hazards that could result in illness, injury or death," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Workplace hazards need to be addressed immediately and prevented from reoccurring by implementing an effective safety and health program."
OSHA cited the employer for one repeat violation for allowing employees to perform maintenance and service equipment without ensuring the machine could not restart, in addition to 26 serious violations for exposing an employee to crystalline silica at levels of more than two times the exposure limit; failing to develop procedures to protect workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance; exposing workers to crushing and struck-by hazards by not replacing or repairing damaged storage rack shelving; and allowing electrical equipment to be installed or used without following manufacturer instructions.
For more information and a complete list of citations, read the news release.
OSHA has cited Holly Refining & Marketing–Tulsa LLC for three serious and five repeat violations for continuing to expose workers to hot surfaces of refinery process equipment, falls from heights and other hazards at its crude oil refinery. Proposed penalties from this February 2014 follow-up inspection total $184,800.
"Failure to ensure hazards are eliminated and do not reoccur is essential for employee safety and health. Negligence, such as that demonstrated by Holly Refining & Marketing is unacceptable," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "Previously cited violations were still present in the follow-up inspection, and those hazards expose workers to possible injuries, illness and even death."
Additional violations included failing to protect workers from falls through unguarded ladder floor openings and open-sided floors, and shock hazards from unsafe electrical equipment and wiring. Read the news release for more information.
On July 31, President Obama signed an executive order that requires companies competing for federal contracts to disclose labor law violations and gives agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts. The new process is designed to level the playing field and bring more companies into compliance with OSHA regulations and other workplace laws.
"Today's executive order is an important step to ensure that workers are protected, businesses have a fair shot to compete, and taxpayers get the best bang for their buck," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Cheaters shouldn't win, and this action ensures they won't. Everyone is welcome to compete — as long as they are willing to do so fairly."
OSHA, together with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and Bureau of International Labor Affairs, will sponsor Labor Rights Week Aug. 25-29. In addition to holding educational events for workers, the agencies will be signing and renewing agreements with foreign consulates across the country to protect vulnerable workers in the United States.
In conjunction with Labor Rights Week, OSHA staff joined 400 workers on Aug. 9 at the Guatemalan Mobile Consulate in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., to discuss workers' rights and to distribute bilingual educational resources on falls in construction, tree trimming, heat stress, hazardous chemicals and other common workplace hazards.
To learn more or find a Labor Rights Week event in your area, visit OSHA's LRW Events Web page.
OSHA signed an alliance on Aug. 1 with the Consulate General of Honduras in California to provide vital workplace rights information to Honduran workers and their employers in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho. OSHA and the consulate will deliver information promoting workers' understanding of their workplace rights and employers' responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. For more information, see the news release.
Through OSHA's Alliance Program, the agency works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Each alliance develops compliance assistance tools and resources and educates workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.
To help workers and employers better understand the hazards in the oil and gas industry, OSHA Training Institute Education Centers nationwide are offering the OSHA #5810 Hazards Recognition and Standards for On-Shore Oil and Gas Exploration and Production course. OSHA developed this course through a cooperative effort with the Rocky Mountain Education Center and industry professionals.
The oil and gas industry employs more than 450,000 workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012 alone, more than 2,400 workers were injured and 181 more were killed, which is five times higher than the national average.
The course provides essential information to help workers and employers in all phases of on-shore oil and gas exploration and production recognize, evaluate, and control hazards common to the industry. For more information on this and other classes, please visit the OTI Education Centers' searchable schedule.
OSHA has been accepted as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, OSHA is committed to working with NOAA and other ambassadors to strengthen national preparedness for and resilience against extreme weather, including extreme temperatures and weather-related disasters.
OSHA and NOAA have a tradition of working collaboratively on public awareness campaigns such as NOAA's National Severe Weather Preparedness Week and Hurricane Preparedness Week; and OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in workers.
OSHA provides resources on workplace preparedness and response, in English and Spanish, for extreme weather disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Learn more at OSHA's Emergency Preparedness and Response page.
Between 2003 and 2011, 5,816 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries in the United States. Tractor rollovers were the single deadliest type of injury incident on farms.
To help employers prevent injuries and deaths, OSHA has developed two new agricultural QuickCards: "Protecting Farmworkers from Tractor and Harvester Hazards" and "Backing Up Farm Vehicles and Equipment Safely." These resources explain the hazards and safety precautions to take to prevent serious injuries, and are also available in Spanish.
For more information about hazards associated with farm work, visit OSHA's Agricultural Operations Web page. 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.
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 Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab on workplace violence. DOL offers the option to receive blog updates by email.
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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