|September 15, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 18||
|In this issue
OSHA awarded $10.7 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants to 37 new and 32 returning grantees, including nonprofit and community/faith-based groups, business and trade associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities. Susan Harwood Training Grants support programs that train and educate workers and employers in industries with high injury and fatality rates, young workers, and small businesses. The grants provide in-person hands-on training and educational programs for at-risk workers including those with low literacy or limited English proficiency.
The grants include $3.2 million in Capacity Building Developmental grants to 20 new organizations that will develop their expertise and capacity to provide occupational health and safety education to their constituents, and $400,000 to five organizations for pilot grants to lay the groundwork for a self-sufficient safety and health education program. OSHA also awarded approximately $1.3 million to 10 organizations to provide Targeted Topic Training grants, and $100,000 to two organizations for Training and Educational Material Development grants which must address one of the occupational safety and health topics designated by OSHA. In addition, the agency also awarded approximately $5.7 million in returning or follow-on funding to 32 recipients of prior year Capacity Building Developmental grants that had demonstrated satisfactory performance. See the news release for more information and visit the OSHA Web site for a complete list of the 2011 Susan Harwood grant recipients.
OSHA launched a new Workplace Violence Web page and has published several workplace violence guidance documents including Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments and Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care and Social Service Workers. See the news release for more information.
OSHA issued a second citation to a salon for exposing workers to dangerous levels of formaldehyde from hair-smoothing products. OSHA found worker exposure levels in the salon higher than the OSHA protective short term limit. In addition, OSHA cited two manufacturers and two distributors of hair-smoothing products for violations that included failing to list formaldehyde on both product labels and Material Safety Data Sheets. See the news release for more information.
OSHA issued a hazard alert in April that let salons know that if they use products that contain or release formaldehyde, they must follow the requirements in OSHA's Formaldehyde standard (29CFR1910.148). The standard requires that employers test the air to determine the level of formaldehyde present in the air when the product is being used. If the test shows that formaldehyde is present at levels above OSHA's safe limits, then the employer must implement measures to reduce employee exposure to safe levels.
OSHA found Bank of America Corp. to be in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in a case involving a former employee of Countrywide Financial Corp., which merged with Bank of America in July 2008. OSHA found that the company had terminated an employee for leading internal investigations that revealed widespread and pervasive wire, mail and bank fraud involving Countrywide employees. The company was ordered to hire back the complainant and pay her approximately $930,000, which includes back wages, interest, compensatory damages, and attorney fees. See the news release for more information.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and 20 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, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. Under these laws, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.
OSHA fined Bostik Inc. $917,000 for violating safety standards that led to a March 13 explosion at the company's Middleton, Mass., plant in which four workers were injured. Bostik was cited for 50 violations of workplace safety and health standards, including nine willful violations for serious deficiencies in the company's process safety management (PSM) program--a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals.
OSHA issued Bostik nine citations for willfully committing violations with disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. These violations included failing to address previous incidents with a potential for catastrophic results, as well as human factors such as operator error, communication between shift changes and employee fatigue from excessive overtime. The agency also issued 41 citations for serious violations that the company knew or should have known had a substantial probability of resulting in serious physical harm or death to its workers. These violations included an incomplete and deficient emergency response plan, inadequate training for employees required to fight fires, obstructed exit access, electrical and respirator hazards, and additional PSM deficiencies. See the news release for more information.
OSHA fined Cenex Harvest States Inc., doing business as Central Montana Co-Op., $229,000 for willfully disregarding OSHA requirements by failing to test for hazardous atmospheres in permit-required spaces at its Columbus, Mont., facility. The company was also cited for repeat violations involving unguarded pit and floor holes, and dangerous accumulations of potentially explosive dust. OSHA investigated the facility as part of its regional emphasis program targeting grain handling establishments. The company was cited in August 2010 and February 2011 for similar violations at two of its other facilities. See the news release for additional information on the company's safety and health violations.
OSHA sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to a total of more than 13,000 grain elevator operators, warning them of proper safety precautions outlined in the Grain Handling Facilities standard. These include prohibiting entry in grain storage facilities while grain is being emptied out or flowing in or out of the bin, prohibiting employees from "walking down the grain" and ensuring that employees enter the bin with the proper safety equipment.
OSHA issued its annual inspection plan under the Site-Specific Targeting 2011 (SST-11) program to help the agency direct enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces where the highest rates of injuries and illnesses occur. The SST program is OSHA's main programmed inspection plan for non-construction workplaces that have 20 or more workers. High-hazard workplaces identified in the SST program reported above-average work-related injury and illness rates, based on data collected from a 2010 OSHA Data Initiative survey of 80,000 larger establishments in selected high-hazard industries. Establishments are randomly selected for inspection from a primary list of 3,700 manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and nursing and personal care facilities. Two changes have been made to this year's SST program. In 2010, only those establishments in the selected industries with 40 or more employees were subject to inspections under the SST plan; this year, that number has been reduced to 20 or more. An evaluation study measuring the program's impact on future compliance with OSHA standards has also been introduced for the 2011 program. See the news release for more information.
OSHA reached an enterprise-wide settlement agreement with Nations Roof LLC and Nations Roof of New England LLC that resolves litigation stemming from citations and penalties issued to the latter for hazards at a Hudson, N.H., work site. Nations Roof LLC and its 14 affiliated companies agreed to completely reinvent a uniform safety and health program, which will include significant improvements to employee training, safety and health planning, work site inspections, and management structure and accountability.
Under the agreement, Nations Roof will appoint safety/health directors for all of the companies. Each director and a supervisory employee will complete OSHA's 30-hour construction safety course; the safety/health directors will be required to become certified to teach the 30-hour course; and all other potentially exposed employees will receive at least the OSHA 10-hour safety course plus eight additional hours dedicated to fall protection. The company also will submit compliance reports to OSHA; report jobs, injuries and illnesses to the agency; and allow OSHA to monitor compliance with the agreement. Finally, Nations Roof will pay $34,750 in fines and verify correction of all hazards cited at the Hudson work site. See the news release for more on the settlement agreement.
OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels delivered a video address to attendees of the XIX World Congress for Safety and Health at Work held Sept. 11-15 in Istanbul, Turkey. The goal of the World Congress is to ensure the opportunity for the exchange of new information on occupational health and safety with the aim of introducing a culture of workplace injury and illness prevention worldwide. The conference is attended by occupational safety and health researchers and practitioners, national authorities, policy makers, social security institutions and employers' and workers' organizations.
In his remarks, Michaels spoke of shared challenges and responsibilities for improving global worker protections, especially as economies become increasingly linked and as more employers take on multinational dimensions. "In a globally competitive marketplace, we can't afford to have wasteful, inefficient industries, and nothing is more wasteful than workers who are sickened, injured and die from preventable hazards," said Michaels.
As wildfires continue to sweep through Central Texas, OSHA's updated Wildfires Safety and Health Topics Page offers information on how to protect workers from hazards associated with response and recovery operations. Wildfires can spread quickly, particularly during dry conditions. The page is designed to help workers and employers prepare for a wildfire and to protect themselves in the wildfire's aftermath. The Preparedness page provides information on evacuation plans, safety zones around buildings, and equipment to have on hand in case a wildfire occurs. The Response/Recovery page details hazards that may be present in areas affected by wildfires, such as unstable structures, heavy equipment, heat stress, hazardous materials, carbon monoxide and other respiratory hazards, and slips, trips, and falls.
OSHA cited Piedmont Mechanical Inc., Jim Boyd Construction Inc. and Chevron Energy Solutions Inc. for safety hazards after a worker received burns from an electrical shock during the installation of a new landfill gas processing and compression facility at the U.S. Marine Corps Logistic Base in Albany, N.Y. OSHA cited the contractors for a total of 11 safety violations and fined them $189,700 following an inspection begun in March after the incident, in which the boom tip of a crane contacted an overhead power line with a carrying capacity of more than 12,000 volts. Electricity traveled down the crane through a line that was connected to the load being moved by the crane and shocked the employee on the ground, who was holding the line. OSHA cited all three companies for safety violations involving trenching and excavation at the site. See the news release for more information.
The safety specialist for Florida-based Orbeco-Hellige (Orbeco), a manufacturer of water quality instrumentation and reagents, contacted OSHA's On-site Consultation Program after determining that the company's outdated safety and health management programs needed to be completely overhauled. Orbeco requested a comprehensive on-site consultation safety evaluation in support of the company's efforts to operate a safe and healthful work environment. During the walk-through, the OSHA consultant observed safety and health hazards related to electrical equipment, including the absence of lockout tags for certain equipment and damaged electrical distribution strips. The consultant also identified the need for additional fire exit signs and proper chemical storage. Orbeco corrected the identified hazards within 30 days.
Since the initial consultation visit, Orbeco continued to develop and implement comprehensive safety and health management programs. The company conducted safety training sessions and worked with the local fire department to review fire safety guidelines and to learn how to properly use fire extinguishers. A safety committee was instituted to keep the staff abreast of workplace safety and health issues. Orbeco earned recognition in the On-site Consultation Program's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in 2010. See the online success story for more information.
OSHA has developed a variety of training and compliance assistance materials in many formats to help the residential construction industry comply with the new residential construction fall protection directive. The latest of these is an educational slide presentation that describes safety methods for preventing injuries and deaths from falls, and explains techniques currently used by employers during various stages of construction. These techniques involve the use of conventional fall protection systems including safety nets, guardrails, and personal fall arrest systems such as body harnesses, lanyards and lifelines. The slide presentation and other compliance assistance materials are available on OSHA's Residential Fall Protection Web page. In addition, OSHA Area offices have conducted more than 490 presentations to the residential construction industry nationwide, and will continue this robust outreach program.
OSHA also provides a free service for small businesses (with no more than 250 employees at any one facility, and no more than 500 nationwide) to assist those that have questions about compliance with this or any other OSHA directive. OSHA's on-site consultation services are separate from the agency's enforcement operations and do not result in penalties or citations. OSHA has compliance assistance specialists in area offices throughout the country. To locate the Consultation Office nearest you, visit OSHA's On-site Consultation Web page or call 1-800 OSHA.
Observe 2011 Drive Safely Work Week October 3-7! The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to offer a free downloadable, comprehensive toolkit to help companies address distracted driving. The toolkit, available in both English and Spanish, can be downloaded from the NETS Web site. The theme of this year's campaign is "Focus360°...Getting there safely is everyone's business."
Are you interested in a career with the Department of Labor? DOL has job opportunities throughout the country, including openings in OSHA for Safety and Occupational Health Specialists.
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