|September 2, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 18|
OSHA has awarded $10.5 million in one-year federal safety and health training grants to 80 nonprofit organizations across the nation for education and training programs to help high-risk workers and their employers recognize serious workplace hazards, implement injury prevention measures and understand their rights and responsibilities.
OSHA's Susan Harwood Training Grant Program funds grants to nonprofit organizations, including community/faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, colleges and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries.
In its 2015 award, OSHA is awarding approximately $2.2 million in new, targeted topic training and training and educational materials development grants to 19 organizations to develop materials and programs addressing workplace hazards and prevention strategies. Both grant types require that recipients address occupational safety and health hazards designated by OSHA, including preventing construction hazards and hazardous chemical exposures. In addition, 15 organizations will receive approximately $2.3 million in new capacity-building developmental grants to provide occupational safety and health training, education, and related assistance to workers and employers in the targeted populations. Organizations selected to receive these grants are expected to create organizational capacity to provide safety and health training on an ongoing basis.
OSHA also awarded approximately $3 million in follow-on grants to 20 capacity building developmental grantees and $3 million in follow-on grants to 26 targeted topic grantees that performed satisfactorily during fiscal year 2014. These grantees demonstrated their ability to provide occupational safety and health training, education, and related assistance to workers and employers in high-hazard industries, small-business employers, and vulnerable workers. For more information, see the news release.
Every year during Labor Rights Week, federal agencies, consulates and embassies as well as educational, labor, and community organizations join together to remind the nation's most vulnerable workers that everyone who works in the United States has the same workplace rights. This year, the week runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 with events taking place all over the country.
Along with OSHA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division are sending the message that no worker in this country should experience discrimination, wage theft or safety hazards in the workplace.
Planned events this week include the signing of a new alliance between OSHA and the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, and renewals of alliances with several other consulates, including the Mexican Consulate in Austin, Texas. There are also multi-agency outreach events at mobile/remote consulates, free consultations from experts in labor law, and industry-specific events such as a poultry fair in Gainesville, Ga. Be sure to visit OSHA's Labor Rights Week webpage for a list of events in your area.
If you are participating in Labor Rights Week, OSHA has many resources to help you get out the safety message. Some of our most popular videos include Young Workers' Rights in English and Spanish, a special message for the Hispanic workforce, and a general Workers' Rights video in English and Spanish. The OSHA publications page provides printed resources in several languages and covers a variety of workplace hazards.
In early August, Alabama roofing contractor Marcus Borden was sentenced to three years of probation and 30 hours of community service for making false statements to OSHA inspectors following the serious injury of three workers. The workers were on a metal roof without fall protection when a severe thunderstorm arrived, causing them to be blown against objects or off the roof. Injuries included the amputation of an arm and broken wrists, ribs, and a pelvis. During the subsequent investigation, Borden told an OSHA inspector that he was on the job site on the day of the accident and had obtained equipment to protect workers from falls. In fact, Borden obtained the equipment after the incident occurred. Borden also claimed that employees had been tied off when he knew that they were not. For more information, see the news release.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston held construction company owner Stephen Lessard in civil contempt after he defied a 2011 order to correct safety violations cited during OSHA inspections of 11 different worksites. Lessard, owner of Lessard Brothers Construction and Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc. in Greene, Maine, was also ordered to pay $405,000 in fines and interest. "It's critically important that employers recognize their obligation to take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and health of their workers," said Kim Stille, OSHA's New England regional administrator. The Aug. 24 judgment orders Lessard to submit proof of correction for the cited hazards and pay $405,485 plus interest and fees to OSHA within 20 days, or face additional sanctions by the court. For more information, read the news release.
A 21-year-old worker suffered severe burns and the loss of four fingers as he tried to clear a jam in a plastic molding machine during his first day on the job. OSHA cited his employer, Quality Blow Molding Inc. of Elyria, Ohio, for five willful, repeated and other-than-serious violations for failing to properly train the employee and failing to implement procedures to prevent machines from starting up during service and maintenance. "For the second time in two years, Quality Blow Molding intentionally and willfully disregarded OSHA standards and requirements for machine safety," said Kimberly Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Proposed penalties total $171,270. For more information, read the news release.
In the wake of an incident in which an employee lost part of his finger, OSHA found that Dyson Corp. of Painesville, Ohio, failed to train workers on safety procedures, including how to install machine guards on belts, pulleys and presses. The employee had been on the job for only three weeks when his finger became caught in a machine. The company was cited for eight willful, repeated and serious violations, totaling $170,170 in proposed penalties, and was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. "Since this incident occurred, the company has reached out to OSHA and is working to make significant changes in their safety and health management system," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. For more information, see the news release.
American Air Filter Co. continues to expose temporary workers to amputation hazards, according to results of a recent OSHA investigation. The Atlanta-based air filter manufacturer was most recently cited for five repeated, serious and other-than-serious violations for failing to provide proper machine guarding and not following procedures to prevent machines from starting up unexpectedly during maintenance and servicing. The company employs temporary workers from two staffing agencies, which were not cited. "This company needs to address all workplace hazards, not just the ones for which penalties have been proposed," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA's Atlanta-East Area Office. OSHA proposed penalties of $119,900 and placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Read the news brief for more information.
Under terms of a settlement with OSHA, Hannaford Supermarkets has agreed to institute ongoing worker protection safeguards at its warehouses/distribution centers in Schodack Landing, N.Y., and South Portland, Maine. OSHA inspections in 2013 and 2014 found that the company failed to keep its centers free from hazards likely to cause musculoskeletal disorders. Hannaford agreed to: have a qualified ergonomist assess both centers and recommend how to address hazards identified by OSHA; establish an employee-manager ergonomics committee to make recommendations to the ergonomist and company; ensure that contractors’ employees have access to the same protective measures as Hannaford employees; and pay $9,750 in fines. "Hannaford is investing in preventing worker injuries," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "We urge other employers to follow its example." See the news release for more information.
Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.
OSHA has issued policies and procedures for applying a new process for resolving whistleblower disputes. The new early resolution process is to be used as part of a regional Alternative Dispute Resolution program, which offers parties the opportunity to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of a neutral OSHA representative with expertise in whistleblower investigations. "OSHA receives several thousand whistleblower complaints for investigation each year," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "The Alternative Dispute Resolution process can be a valuable alternative to the expensive and time consuming process of an investigation and litigation." For more information, read the news release.
OSHA will host the inaugural meeting of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health on Sept. 9, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The subcommittee was established to help NACOSH respond to OSHA's request for advice and recommendations for a proposed rule on emergency response and preparedness. Over the next 12 to 18 months, the subcommittee will develop recommendations and draft regulatory text for a proposed rule and submit them to NACOSH for consideration. For more information, read the news release.
Additionally, NACOSH's Temporary Workers Work Group is scheduled to meet Sept. 21, Oct. 16 and Nov. 20, also in Washington, D.C. The work group will continue discussion of workplace safety and health issues regarding temporary workers and develop recommendations for NACOSH's consideration. See the news release for details.
OSHA and the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication are conducting a free webinar on inspection procedures for enforcing the Hazard Communication Standard. The Webinar will be held at 2 p.m. ET, Sept. 9. Lana Nieves and Sven Rundman from OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs will discuss the Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard enforcement directive and the requirements for manufacturers and importers to develop compliant safety data sheets by June 1, 2015. Register for this free event here.
The SHARP Association Arkansas Chapter will hold its 11th Annual Safety Conference, Safety - Do It for Life, Sept. 17, 2015, in Little Rock, Ark. The conference shares occupational safety and health best practices with companies in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program and others interested in enhancing their safety culture. The conference is intended for safety managers, owners and top management, human resource managers, and safety team members. Register here.
OSHA representatives participated in Penn State’s 2015 Ag Progress Days in Rock Springs, Penn., last month to educate the public about protecting the safety and health of workers performing agricultural operations. Nearly 500 exhibitors from 34 states and 4 provinces of Canada attended this event that showcased innovations in agriculture. It was the first year OSHA staffed a booth at the highly-regarded event. Representatives distributed agency agriculture resources such as fact sheets and QuickCards, and talked with farmers, their families and others engaged in the agriculture industry.
OSHA is focusing more attention to the agricultural industry in several states with its Local Dairy and Grain Emphasis Program. On August 18, staff from OSHA offices in Minnesota toured the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Mann Valley Farm to gain a better understanding of the hazards and abatement methods available for producers to prevent farmworkers from being injured or killed on the job. The University of Wisconsin farm established the Center of Dairy Farm Safety in 2011 with the help of a Susan Harwood training grant from OSHA. The center has worked with a number of organizations to train more than 700 Spanish-speaking workers at 54 farms in Wisconsin. Training material is also available in Chinese.
In remarks to the VPP Participants' Association at its annual convention, Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab underscored the agency's commitment to the Voluntary Protection Programs, in which the agency recognizes employers with model safety programs. "Day after day, your actions become living proof that maintaining a safe workplace is not only a moral imperative, it's also good for the long-term bottom line," Barab told several hundred employers at the gathering. The VPP process emphasizes the continual identification and elimination of hazards, beyond minimal OSHA standards. Employers are accepted into the program only after a vigorous evaluation of their workplaces.
Members of OSHA staff were among 32 safety professionals trained in wind energy industry worker safety at the Suzlon Wind Energy Corporation facility in Elgin, Ill. The training included how to climb a turbine and perform rescue techniques. The training builds on the successes of a four-year alliance with OSHA and the American Wind Energy Association. Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. See our latest posts:
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