|October 1, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 19|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
|In this issue
OSHA issued a revised hazard alert to hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with certain hair smoothing and straightening products. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and nose; cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes and lungs; and is a cancer hazard. The revised alert was prompted by the results of agency investigations, a warning letter issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and incorrect information recently sent to salons by a company that manufactures hair products. The revised hazard alert notifies salons that if they use products that contain or release formaldehyde (like timonacic acid), they must follow the requirements in OSHA's formaldehyde standard. The alert also includes a list of other names for formaldehyde (e.g. methylene glycol, formalin, and methanal) and details about required information to be listed on product labels and material safety data sheets of products that contain or could release formaldehyde.
During recent investigations, OSHA's air tests showed that workers were exposed to formaldehyde above OSHA's limits in salons using Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brasil Cacau Cadiveu, resulting in citations for multiple violations. The FDA issued a warning letter Aug. 22 to the importer and distributer of Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution stating that the product is adulterated and misbranded. Although the solution contains methylene glycol, which can release formaldehyde during the normal conditions of use, the product is labeled "formaldehyde free" or "no formaldehyde" and does not list formaldehyde on the material safety data sheet. Following an Aug. 24 letter sent by Brazilian Blowout to salon owners claiming that all OSHA air tests on its product yielded results below OSHA's standard for exposure, the agency sent a letter* Sept. 22 to the company refuting that assertion. See the news release for more information.
OSHA released a new edition of its Whistleblower Investigations Manual, one of a series of measures announced in August to improve OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. The new edition of the manual will provide further guidance to help ensure the consistency and quality of whistleblower investigations. It contains updates to case handling procedures and information on the new laws enacted since the manual was last updated in 2003. Key changes to the manual include a requirement that investigators make every attempt to interview the complainant in all cases; clarification that whistleblower complaints may be filed in any language either orally or in writing, and that OSHA will be accepting electronically filed complaints on its Whistleblower Protection Program Web site; and expanded guidance on dealing with uncooperative respondents and issuing administrative subpoenas during whistleblower investigations. See the news release for more information.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed Nail Gun Safety - A Guide for Construction Contractors* to help construction employers and workers prevent work-related nail gun injuries, which are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits annually. Construction workers, particularly those in residential construction, use nail guns nearly every day. Although this tool is easy to operate and increases productivity, injuries occur as a result of unintended nail discharge; nails that bounce off a hard surface or miss the work piece and become airborne; and disabling the gun's safety features, among other causes. Injury prevention is possible if contractors take steps such as using full sequential trigger nail guns. See the news release for more information.
OSHA has three new guidance products to educate employers and workers about the hazards in trenching operations. Unprotected trenches are among the deadliest hazards in the construction industry and the loss of life is devastating: since 2003, more than 200 workers have died in trench cave-ins, and hundreds more have been seriously injured. The new products include a fact sheet*, QuickCard* and a poster* that warns, "An Unprotected Trench is an Early Grave." The three documents may be ordered in English- and Spanish-language versions from the Publications page of OSHA's Web site. See the news release for more information.
OSHA reopened the rulemaking record to extend the comment period on revising the recordkeeping and reporting requirements for work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA is extending the comment period in response to a stakeholder request. Individuals interested in submitting comments must do so by Oct. 28.
Under the revised proposal, employers would be required to report to OSHA any work-related fatalities and all in-patient hospitalizations within eight hours, and work-related amputations within 24 hours. OSHA currently requires employers to report to OSHA, within eight hours, all work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. OSHA is also proposing to update the list of partially exempt industries from the requirements to maintain work-related injury or illness logs. These industries received partial exemption because of their relatively low injury and illness rates. See the Federal Register notice for details on how to submit comments.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Sept. 22 that asbestos contractor Keith Gordon-Smith, owner of Gordon-Smith Contracting, convicted of multiple counts of violating the Clean Air Act and lying to OSHA inspectors, was sentenced to 72 months in prison and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution. DOJ stated that the defendant caused employees of Gordon-Smith Contracting Inc. to improperly remove asbestos during the partial demolition of a building on the site of the former Genesee Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.
"The Court's sentence properly punishes Gordon-Smith and his company for the egregious crimes that placed workers and their families at risk and for his complete disregard of the environmental laws that protect human health and the environment," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.
Among other things, Gordon-Smith ordered workers to tear out copper pipes and scrap metal from a six-story building that contained over 70,000 square feet of asbestos. When the workers--who were not provided with any masks or protective clothing--removed the pipes, ceiling tiles and scrap metal, they were repeatedly exposed to asbestos which they told jurors was falling on them "like snow." Workers testified that Gordon-Smith repeatedly told them that the material was not asbestos. Following worker complaints, OSHA sent an inspector to the Genesee Hospital to ensure that the workers were protected. On three separate occasions, Gordon-Smith falsely denied that any pre-abatement disturbance of asbestos took place. He falsely stated that tiles and scrap metal were torn out by other, unknown parties, when in fact he had himself ordered his workers to do so. See the news release* for more information.
OSHA has three new fact sheets offering information on reducing falls during residential construction. The fact sheets focus on Installing Roof Trusses*, Installing Tile Roofs* and Roof Repair*. They include information on the hazards involved in working on roofs, the proper use of ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts and Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS) such as body harnesses, lanyards and lifelines. These fact sheets are just a few of the training and compliance assistance materials available in many formats on OSHA's Residential Fall Protection Web page to help the residential construction industry comply with the new residential construction fall protection directive. They include a 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 PFAS.
OSHA fined PJ Trailers Manufacturing Co. Inc. and another company it owns, Delco Trailers Co. Inc., $949,800 for exposing workers to unguarded machinery, fall hazards, accumulations of potentially hazardous dust, and other dangers. OSHA cited the company for seven willful, 26 serious and nine repeat violations. OSHA initiated its inspection following a complaint that employees were not adequately protected from being injured by rotating machinery parts and inhaling toxic welding fumes while fabricating trailers. Since 2008, at least 15 workers suffered eye injuries requiring medical treatment and or days away from work at the facility. See the news release for more information.
OSHA found Bond Laboratories Inc. and former CEO Scott Landow in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for improperly firing an employee. The company and Landow were ordered to re-hire the employee and pay approximately $500,000 in back wages, interest and compensatory damages. The findings follow an OSHA investigation begun in response to a complaint from the employee. Landow and Bond Laboratories, formerly based in Solana Beach, Calif., allegedly terminated the complainant, an officer, for objecting to the manipulation of sales figures that misrepresented the company's value to potential investors. OSHA determined that the complainant's repeated objections contributed to the decision to terminate the complainant. See the news release for more information.
OSHA held a meeting Sept. 20-21 of the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH) at the Eastland Park Hotel in Portland, Maine. MACOSH advises the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on worker safety and health in the maritime industries. The 15-member committee discussed person in water (man overboard); cargo handling equipment; confined space ventilation; selection of welding shade protection; safe entry and cleaning practices in vessel sewage tanks; best practices in eye injury reduction; toxic materials; and injury and illness prevention programs. At the conclusion of the meeting, MACOSH made a recommendation that OSHA publish the Welding Shade fact sheet approved by the committee.
High school students across Oregon are invited to enter the 2012 "Save a Friend. Work Safe." video contest. The top three entries will take home cash prizes ranging from $300 to $500 and students will earn a matching amount for their school. Oregon OSHA and The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) are among the organizations sponsoring the contest. The contest is designed to increase awareness about safety on the job for young people. Students must create a 45-second public service announcement with the overall theme of "Save a Friend. Work Safe." The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1, 2012. See the news release* for more information.
Tecton Products LLC designs and manufactures custom fiberglass products at a Fargo, N.D., facility that operates 24 hours-per-day, seven days-per-week. Tecton requested a visit from OSHA's free On-site Consultation Program to find out about potential hazards at its facility and improve its occupational safety and health management system. Implementing recommendations made by OSHA's consultant, Tecton became the first company in North Dakota to earn OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) designation for its exemplary safety and health management systems. Continuing its efforts to achieve safety and health excellence, Tecton applied and was accepted to OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), which recognize employers and workers who have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national averages in their industry. Tecton's Director of Engineering, Tom Gohdes, said, "Safety is a part of our culture. It comes from attitude and actions. Our associates begin safety training on their first day. The process never stops." See the online success story for more information.
During a Sept. 20 meeting with the Alliance Program Construction Roundtable, OSHA provided participants with updates on the agency's activities and priorities related to the construction industry. Roundtable members heard presentations on OSHA's new compliance assistance materials and efforts to reach workers with limited English proficiency, and were asked for their feedback on OSHA's Heat Illness Prevention Campaign. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) presented information on its recent Prevention Through Design Conference. The roundtable was created to discuss and share information on workplace safety and health, as well as develop and share construction-related compliance assistance tools and other resources for workers and employers.
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