October 15, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 22
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A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.
 
In this issue

Alternative dispute resolution pilot program for whistleblower complaints announced

OSHA is launching a new pilot program to resolve complaints filed with OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) pilot program is designed to help complainants and employers resolve their disputes in a cooperative and voluntary manner.

"OSHA is committed to fair, effective and timely enforcement of the whistleblower laws delegated to us by Congress," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Alternative dispute resolution can provide immediate relief and finality to both parties."

The program will be implemented in two OSHA regions (headquartered in Chicago and San Francisco) and it will offer two voluntary methods of ADR: early resolution and mediation. When a whistleblower complaint is filed with OSHA in one of the pilot regions, the parties will be notified of their ADR options and may work through an OSHA regional ADR coordinator to use these methods.

OSHA administers the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes and receives approximately 2,500 whistleblower complaints annually. For details, read the press release.

OSHA provides outreach webinar on GHS Standard to more than 8,000 participants

On August 13, OSHA and the Society of Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC) hosted a free webinar to help employers understand the requirements of OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard in the United States. The archived presentation has now been viewed by more than 8,000 participants. Developed as part of OSHA's alliance with SCHC, the webinar explained changes to the Hazard Communication Standard to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). During the webinar, OSHA staff provided information that answered questions from chemical manufacturers, downstream users, and other interested parties. Topics included changes expected in training, labeling, and safety data sheets and compliance assistance opportunities.

To access the webinar, click https://goto.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1006847 and submit your e-mail address and information (if needed). You will receive a link with instructions on viewing the presentation or downloading the reference materials. To learn more about the revised Hazard Communication Standard and GHS, see OSHA's Hazard Communication page and read the QuickTakes special issue on GHS.

Airline industry worker safety takes off with OSHA's Airline Ground Safety Panel Alliance

OSHA and the Airline Ground Safety Panel have renewed their alliance to address hazards and worker injuries related to operating aviation ground support equipment. The Airline Ground Safety Panel is a joint industry and labor partnership that consists of 11 airline companies and three unions that employ and represent 350,000 workers, which accounts for about 85 percent of the industry.

During the two-year agreement, the alliance will develop fact sheets that highlight ways to prevent slips, trips and falls and other hazards while operating ground support equipment such as hi-lift trucks and pushback tugs. In addition, the Alliance will address hazard communication and issues related to increasing awareness of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. For more information, visit OSHA's Alliance Program page or read the news release on the renewed alliance.

OSHA alliance renewal signing with Dr. Michaels and the Airline Ground Safety Panel.

Do you have a few minutes? Help OSHA evaluate its heat illness prevention campaign website with a short survey

With cooler autumn temperatures providing some relief from this summer’s dangerous heat, it's time to gather your input on OSHA's heat illness prevention campaign website. OSHA has developed a 15-minute survey to evaluate the usefulness of the heat illness website and to identify possible updates to the website. The brief survey will not collect personal information from visitors – only opinions and evaluations of the campaign. Did you use the educational resources on the web? Were the materials useful for the work you do? Let us know!

The survey can be accessed from the heat campaign homepage (by clicking "Tell us what you think") or by visiting http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HeatWebpageSurvey. There, you can also find PSAs in English and Spanish, posters and fact sheets in English or Spanish, a heat fatality map, and OSHA's Heat Safety Tool mobile app.

US Labor Department's OSHA cites milling and paving company following June heat fatality at District of Columbia construction site

OSHA has cited LH Musser & Sons Inc. in Clarksburg for one serious violation of OSHA's general duty clause following a heat-related fatality in June. OSHA initiated an inspection after an employee became ill from heat stress and was taken to the hospital where he died. The worker was paving the parking lot of a church with hot asphalt in Northwest Washington, D.C., on a day when temperatures reached 99 degrees, according to National Weather Service records.

The violation involves failing to provide a program addressing heat-related hazards in the workplace where employees work outdoors in direct sunlight on paving operations with hot asphalt. The employer did not maintain a work/rest regimen, train employees in the recognition of the signs, symptoms and prevention of heat-related illnesses and ensure that employees consumed adequate amounts of water. For details, see the press release. Materials to prevent heat illnesses in outdoor workers are available in English and Spanish at OSHA's heat illness prevention page.

US Labor Department's OSHA fines residential care facility for inadequate workplace violence safeguards in Fairfield, Ohio

OSHA has cited ResCare Ohio Inc. for exposing employees to workplace violence at the company's Fairfield residential care facility, which operates as Camelot Lake. The company’s Camelot Lake facility accumulated a total of 20 workplace violence cases from 2009-2012. Employees have been exposed to physical assaults during routine interaction with residents who have a history of violent behavior. For details, read the press release.

OSHA's "Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care & Social Service Workers" resource provides recommendations for reducing workplace violence. Additional information is available at OSHA's workplace violence page. Information for employers and employees in nursing homes and residential care facilities, including guidance on safe patient handling and workplace violence, is also available at OSHA's Nursing Homes and Personal Care Facilities Safety and Health Topics page.

US Labor Department's OSHA cites ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems in Fort Worth, Texas, for exposing workers to multiple safety hazards

OSHA has cited ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems Inc. with 28 serious safety violations at its Fort Worth work site for exposing workers to "struck-by," fall, amputation and shock hazards while they were manufacturing airport passenger boarding bridges. Proposed penalties total $172,000.

OSHA's Fort Worth Area Office initiated an inspection of the facility under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Amputations and its Regional Emphasis Program on Safety and Health Hazards in the Manufacture of Fabricated Metal Products. The violations include failing to regularly inspect overhead cranes, hooks and slings; rate or inspect devices used for lifting; provide machine guarding for a press brake and belt sander; ensure that exits are not blocked and are properly marked; provide fall protection such as harnesses and guardrails; and train workers on lockout/tagout procedures for the control of energy sources. Learn more about OSHA's National Emphasis Programs here. For more information, read the press release.

Will you accept the Department of Labor's Worker Safety & Health Challenge? Submit your entries by November 30

The Department of Labor challenges developers, students and anyone else with a little tech savvy and creativity to enter the Workplace Safety & Health Challenge by designing tools that demonstrate the importance of recognizing and preventing workplace safety and health hazards and help young people understand their rights in the workplace. The deadline is November 30. Successful entries could take many different forms: smart phone apps, 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.

Alliance between OSHA and Lamar Outdoor Advertising renewed to protect workers

OSHA has renewed its Alliance with Lamar Outdoor Advertising to promote safety and health among vulnerable workers, young workers, and workers in the construction and other industries.

During the two-year agreement, the Alliance will develop an outdoor advertising safety and health training presentation for OSHA compliance officers and will promote other OSHA activities, including outreach campaigns and the North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. In the past, OSHA and Lamar have collaborated in promoting nationwide awareness of heat illness prevention, struck-by hazards, work stand-downs and distracted driving. Read the press release for details.

Dr. Michaels (right) and Robert Switzer, Vice President of Operations for Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

District Court judge upholds OSHA's findings in Fla. whistleblower case

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has ruled in favor of a worker in a whistleblower case against LOTO Services LLC and its owner, Allan R. Lochhead. The district court ordered the company to pay the former employee $34,186, including more than $27,000 in back wages, $6,700 in expenses, and more than $400 in interest. In April, OSHA found that Aquatech Technologies, owned by LOTO and doing business as Aquatech Canvas & Consignment, terminated a worker for raising health concerns about rodent infestations at Aquatech's facility in Stuart, Fla.

OSHA found that the employee had reported serious concerns to management regarding rodents and rodent droppings in the office, and requested to have these problems corrected. Lochhead placed rodent traps in the office, but the problem continued. The employee complained again, but Lochhead indicated there was no rodent problem, so the employee filed a health complaint with OSHA. One day after the company was notified of the health complaint by OSHA officials, the employee was terminated. The employee filed a timely whistleblower complaint with OSHA, which concluded that the company and Lochhead had unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by the OSH Act. For more information, read the April news release.

Spanish-language version of popular OSHA-NIOSH nail gun guide now available

Nail Gun Safety - A Guide for Construction Contractors (*PDF), a resource that helps construction employers and workers prevent work-related nail gun injuries, is now available in Spanish (*PDF). Nail gun injuries are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits each year. 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.

OSHA continues to expand its available resources in non-English languages to protect vulnerable workers in construction. Materials for this year’s fall prevention campaign are available (as *PDFs) in Spanish, Russian and Polish. To order these or many other outreach materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.

Updated OSHA brochure provides workers and employers with information on the deadly risks of distracted driving

More workers are killed every year in motor vehicle crashes than any other cause. Distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes. That's why OSHA has joined with the U.S. Department of Transportation, other Labor Department agencies and key associations and organizations to enlist the help and cooperation off businesses – large and small – in a nationwide effort to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving. OSHA's revised brochure (*PDF) explains the dangers of texting while driving on the job, and makes recommendations about what employers can do to keep workers safe. To order the brochure or any of OSHA's outreach materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page. Visit the Department of Transportation's distracted driving page for more information.

Register now for OSHA Executive Seminar on Healthcare Worker Safety November 8, 2012 at the University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is hosting a one-day seminar designed to raise awareness of healthcare worker safety and health in Arlington, Texas, on November 8, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. CST. More workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other. In 2010, the healthcare and social assistance industry reported more injury and illness cases than any other private industry sector– 653,900 cases.

Dr. Michaels will be joined by Dr. John Howard, Director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) via live web connection to provide national perspective on this topic. Presentations will address health and safety hazards and solutions to help improve worker safety. To learn more about hazards in the healthcare industry, visit OSHA's Healthcare Safety and Health Topics page. To register for the seminar, click here.

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