September 17, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 20
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A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.
 
In this issue

Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients announced: OSHA awards $10.7 million in grants to 72 nonprofit organizations

OSHA has awarded approximately $10.7 million through the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program to 72 nonprofit organizations, including community/faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and community colleges and universities.

The goals of the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program are to provide training and education for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces, and to inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved low-literacy workers in high-hazard industries. Since 1978, more than 1.8 million workers have been trained through this program.

See the news release for more about the grant recipients, and visit OSHA's website to learn more about the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Take the Worker Safety & Health Challenge before November 30

The deadline for submissions to the Department of Labor's Worker Safety and Health challenge has been extended until November 30. The challenge is to develop tools to educate young workers on safety and health hazards, what they can do to protect themselves and their rights in the workplace. Successful entries could take many different forms: interactive and informative games, social or professional networking sites, or data visualization tools that teach young people about safety and health hazards. Submissions may be designed for Internet browsers, smartphones, feature phones, social media platforms, or as native Windows or Macintosh applications.

A panel of judges that includes Secretary Hilda Solis, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, co-hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show "Myth Busters," will award $15,000 for the "Safety in the Workplace Innovator Award," $6,000 for the "Safety and Health Data Award" and $6,000 for the "Workers' Rights Award." There is also a "People's Choice Award" of $3,000 for the developer of the app that receives the most public votes on the website.

For more information, watch a short video, visit the challenge page, and read Dr. Michaels' blog.

Oil and gas stakeholder meeting to be webcast September 20 – 21 Register online now!

OSHA, along with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), United States Coast Guard (USCG), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will hold a public stakeholder meeting September 20-21 in Texas City, Texas, on the use and implementation of performance-based regulatory models for enhanced safety and environmental performance in the United States oil and gas industry.

Speakers will address the current regulatory landscape and discuss the challenges and benefits of non-prescriptive, outcome-based approaches to reduce the frequency and severity of harmful events. All members of the public may submit comments to the docket and register online to view a live webcast of the meeting (In-person registration is full. Select "Attending virtually" on the registration page to view the webcast). Written comments must be submitted by the October 22, 2012, deadline by mail, fax, or electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. See the Federal Register notice for more information.

OSHA revises appeals process for three whistleblower statutes

OSHA has established a new internal directive for responding to appeals from workers who have filed complaints under three of the 22 whistleblower statutes enforced by OSHA.

OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program (OWPP) enforces the whistleblower provisions of these 22 statutes, which protect workers who report violations of various workplace regulations. All of these statutes provide for an avenue of appeal, with the exception of three laws: Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Section 11(c)), the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), and the International Safe Container Act (ISCA). Although such appeals are not specifically provided for by statute or regulation, it has been OSHA's long-standing policy and procedure to provide complainants with the right to appeal determinations under Section 11(c), AHERA, and ISCA.

The new directive (PDF*) establishes a revised national program for processing these appeals, which grants 11(c), AHERA, and ISCA complainants 15 calendar days from receipt of the dismissal letter to appeal the decision with OWPP. The instruction also establishes an Appeals Committee to examine any cases that merit further review. For additional information, read the directive in full, or visit OSHA's updated Whistleblower Protection page.

Fall prevention outreach featured at Mexican Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia

Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia
Al DImperio and Isabel DeOliveira of OSHAs Philadelphia Area Office distribute materials at a Mexican Independence Day celebration.

Sunday, September 16, marked the 202nd anniversary of the start of Mexico's War of Independence, also known as "Grito de Dolores." To mark the occasion, OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office in Region III attended a gathering of more than 500 workers to provide information on preventing falls in construction. Hispanic workers make up more than one-third of all construction workers in America. Falls can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps: Plan. Provide. Train. OSHA also provided information on its heat illness prevention campaign.

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, but these deaths are preventable. Learn more about OSHA's Fall Prevention campaign, and watch Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis' public service announcement at www.osha.gov/stopfalls. OSHA also has numerous educational resources available in multiple languages, including (PDF*) stickers, wallet cards, fact sheets, and posters. To order these or any of OSHA's outreach materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.

Summer unofficially ends, OSHA's heat illness prevention campaign receives prestigious public relations award

For most Americans, summer may have ended with Labor Day, but many parts of the country continue to experience high temperatures that put outdoor workers at risk of deadly heat illnesses.

On June 20 – the first day of summer – OSHA began its summer-long outreach with a teleconference with Secretary Hilda Solis, the National Weather Service, and dozens of weather broadcasters to ask them to deliver the message "Water. Rest. Shade." to workers across the country. Since the beginning of the 2011 campaign, OSHA has distributed more than half a million educational materials through our network of local offices, worker representatives and employer organizations – targeting the workers and industries that need them most. As of this week, OSHA's Heat Safety Tool mobile app has been downloaded more than 52,000 times in English and Spanish on iPhone, Android and some Blackberry devices.

The campaign received prestigious industry recognition on September 13, from the Public Relations Society of Americas National Capital Chapter with its Thoth Award for best public service campaign. A link to all the winners is available at http://www.prsa-ncc.org/thoth_awards.

You can order copies of OSHA's heat illness prevention materials in English or Spanish by calling OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or by visiting OSHA's Publications page.

New and revised online resources available to protect workers from combustible dust

OSHA has revised its webpage on the explosion hazards of combustible dust. The page is now organized in sections with tabs to make the page more user-friendly for both experienced and non-experienced viewers. The sections are arranged in logical order, beginning with guidance information that should be especially helpful to users unfamiliar with combustible dust hazards. Enhancements to this web page include additional links to reports issued by NIOSH and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

OSHA orders Dana Holding Corp. to pay whistleblower nearly $275,000 in back wages, damages: Ohio company ordered to reinstate financial analyst at Toledo facility

Dana Holding Corp. has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor to reinstate and pay $274,922.47 in back wages and benefits, compensatory damages and attorney's fees to a financial analyst who was fired from the company's Toledo facility in February 2009.

The order resulted from an investigation by the Chicago office of the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration into alleged violations of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. OSHA was able to substantiate a complaint submitted by the employee, who alleged termination for raising concerns about inaccuracies in the company's customer information assessment system database that could be reflected as inaccuracies in the company's annual financial reports.

In addition to immediate reinstatement, the company must expunge any adverse references related to the discharge in the employee's personnel record, post a notice about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower provisions for all employees and train employees on these provisions. See the news release for more information.

Whistleblower lawsuit charges Albany, NY, contractor with firing and harassing employee who reported asbestos hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Albany-based demolition and construction disposal contractor Champagne Demolition LLC for allegedly firing an employee who reported improper asbestos removal practices while working at Gloversville High School. The employee was fired the next day and subjected to verbal threats and legal action. The worker then filed a complaint with the OSHA, which opened a whistleblower investigation and found merit to the worker's allegations.

The department's suit asks the court to order the defendants to offer the employee reinstatement with full benefits and no break in seniority, expunge the employee's personnel record of any reference to the circumstances in this matter and post a notice of employees' right to report hazards without retaliation. In addition, the department is seeking lost wages as well as compensatory, punitive, emotional and financial distress damages for the worker. See the news release or OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program page for more information.

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites SeaCast for violations at Butte, Mont., foundry; proposes $104,000 in fines

OSHA has cited SeaCast Inc. for 14 safety and health violations – including one willful – following an inspection at the company's foundry in Butte. The Washington state-based company faces proposed penalties of $104,000 following an inspection that was initiated after OSHA received complaints alleging safety and health violations.

Thirteen serious violations involve machine guarding deficiencies, elevated levels of respirable silica, not providing a fully implemented respiratory protection program for employees, unsecured storage racks and materials, blocked electrical equipment, inadequate housekeeping and failing to reduce the pressure of compressed air nozzles to less than 30 pounds per square inch. The willful violation is for failing to administer a continuous, effective hearing conservation program. For more information, read the press release.

American Wind Energy Association Alliance provides OSHA compliance officers with high-level training on the wind energy industry

wind energy

Through an Alliance with the American Wind Energy Association, OSHA sent nearly 40 safety and health compliance officers from across the country to train at the Suzalon Wind Turbine Training facility in Elgin, Ill. The training, which took place from September 11-13, is designed to provide OSHA's compliance officers with intense, hands-on education about the wind energy industry.

Through the Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Visit OSHA's Wind Energy page to learn more about protecting workers in the wind energy industry.

Florida small business protects workers from hazards with help from OSHA's free On-Site Consultation Program

With help from OSHA's Free On-Site Consultation Program, Portus Stevedoring, LLC, has been certified by OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes small business employers who operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program. The Jacksonville-based longshore and terminal operator employs 88 workers and provides stevedoring and marine cargo services to shipping lines that service many parts of the world.

In March, 2012, Portus contacted OSHA's Free On-Site Consultation Program for advice on improvements to its safety and health management system. The OSHA On-site Consultation Program offers free, confidential services to small and medium-sized businesses and is available to employers in all U.S. states and territories. During the visit, the consultant helped Portus to identify a machine guarding and other potential hazards, and also offered employees training on personal protective equipment. As Gus Cagigas, safety manager of Portus explains, "In several areas, we had never had an injury; however, that doesn't mean that you're doing everything right. It could just mean you're lucky."

Since working with OSHA's Consultation Program, Portus has noticed significant improvements in the overall safety culture, not to mention a drop in workers' compensation premiums. Employees and management work together now to ensure the company remains hazard-free, and Portus is proud to hold the honor of being Florida's only longshore business to achieve SHARP status. Read more about Portus Stevedoring at USF SafetyFlorida, the webpage for OSHA's On-site Consultation Program in Florida. To request a free safety and health consultation or find an office in your area, visit OSHA's Consultation Program directory page or call 800-321-OSHA (6742).

New from NIOSH: Safety resources for small businesses

NIOSH

NIOSH has issued a new Small Business Safety and Health Resource Guide, which is intended to assist small business owners as they seek out training materials, and recommendations for ensuring the safety and health of their workers. The resource guide includes sections on: general information, guides and courses, specific occupations and hazards, regulations, consultation services, and emergency preparedness. It also contains summaries of and links to more than 50 websites produced by commercial, academic, and government organizations.

Stephen Falter, N.H. compliance officer, honored by National Safety Council as 2012 Rising Star of Safety

Compliance Safety and Health Officer Stephen Falter of OSHA's Concord, N.H., office, has been honored as one of 44 Rising Stars of Safety by the nonprofit National Safety Council. The NSC's Rising Stars of Safety program annually recognizes leaders of tomorrow for their commitment to safety, influence on safety culture, promotion of continuous workplace safety improvement and creation of safety initiatives producing measureable outcomes. The honorees, chosen from among 160 nominations, will be acknowledged at the 2012 NSC Congress & Expo – the largest annual gathering of safety professionals – to be held October 20-25 in Orlando, Fla. See the NSC news release for more information.

Rising Star of Safety

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the mission of the National Safety Council is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with OSHA and other government agencies, as well as with businesses, elected officials and the public.

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