November 1, 2008 · Volume 7, Issue 21
QuickTakes QuickTakes
A twice monthly e-news memo with information, updates, and results from OSHA about safety and health in America's workplaces.
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive
NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

In This Issue

BLS Reports Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Continues at Recorded Low
Cranes and Derricks Focus of Proposed Rule and National Initiative
OSHA Issues Workplace Electrical Product Safety Request for Information
OSHA Reopens Record on Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Proposed Rule
Three New Safety and Health Information Bulletins Available on OSHA's Web Site
Quick Action by OSHA Inspector Helps Avert Employee Injuries in Trench Collapse
Agency Renews NACOSH Charter
FACOSH to Meet Nov. 13 in Washington
New Case Study Focuses on Contractor Safety
Parsons Corp. is Seventh Member of OSHA's VPP Corporate Pilot
OSHA Strategic Partnership Achieves Goals and Promotes Safety and Health
Combustible Dust Explosion Inspection Seminar to Take Place Near Chicago Airports
Next Stop for OSHA's National Office Exhibit is Las Vegas
Alliance Program News
Strategic Partnership Program Update
Who is Newly "SHARP?"
Latest Voluntary Protection Programs Certifications
"QuickTips" from QuickTakes
Clarification on the Classification of Hard Hats

BLS Reports Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Continues at Recorded Low

The rate of workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry declined in 2007 for the fifth consecutive year, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Approximately 4 million injuries and illnesses occurred in 2007. The number translates to a rate of 4.2 cases per 100 full-time employees, slightly less than the 4.4 rate reported last year. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., said, "The injury and illness results demonstrate that OSHA's balanced approach to workplace safety encompassing education, training, information sharing, inspection, regulation and aggressive enforcement is achieving significant reductions in workplace injury and illness throughout the country. This report shows that employees are now safer in the workplace than ever before. This success validates our efforts, and we are redoubling this commitment to make workplaces even safer."

Cranes and Derricks Focus of Proposed Rule and National Initiative

OSHA is accepting comments on a proposed rule for cranes and derricks in construction that would apply to the estimated 96,000 construction cranes in the United States, including 2,000 tower cranes. The proposed standard addresses key safety issues associated with cranes, including ground conditions, the assembly and disassembly of cranes, the operation of cranes near power lines, the certification and training of crane operators, the use of safety devices and signals, and inspections of cranes. Details on submitting comments are available in the Oct. 9 Federal Register. To coincide with the proposed rule, OSHA has undertaken a National Crane Safety Initiative to address safety hazards during construction crane operation. The initiative also builds on a number of steps taken by OSHA earlier this year to raise awareness on crane safety and increase enforcement of the current standards, including launching local emphasis programs in a number of regions to inspect high-rise construction, stakeholder outreach and additional training on crane safety.

OSHA Issues Workplace Electrical Product Safety Request for Information

OSHA is seeking comments on a proposal submitted to the United States by the European Commission (EC) to permit the use of a Supplier's Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) as an alternative to OSHA's Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) product approval process for certain electrical and other products used in the workplace. The EC made its proposal through the Transatlantic Economic Council, which was established by an agreement between the United States and the European Union signed in April 2007. NRTLs are independent laboratories that have met OSHA's requirements for performing safety testing and certification of electrical and other products used in the workplace. These laboratories test and certify these products to determine whether they conform to appropriate U.S. product safety testing standards. An SDoC is a written statement, produced by an equipment manufacturer or supplier, stating that a product meets or conforms to a specified test standard or a set of requirements. The comment period closes on Jan. 20, 2009. Details are available in the Oct. 20 Federal Register.

OSHA Reopens Record on Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Proposed Rule

OSHA is reopening the record on a notice of proposed rulemaking on electric power generation, transmission and distribution work and for electrical protective equipment. This limited reopening seeks to obtain comments related to how close an employee (or a conductive object that an employee is contacting) may get to an energized circuit part. See the Oct. 22 Federal Register notice for more information.

Three New Safety and Health Information Bulletins Available on OSHA's Web Site

OSHA's latest Safety and Health Information Bulletins (SHIBs) highlight specific workplace hazards and ways to minimize the potential for serious or fatal injuries. The SHIB on Compactor Rollover Hazards addresses rollover hazards when operating roller/compactor machines and the use of roll-over protective structures and seatbelts to reduce the risk. Hazards of Transporting, Unloading, Storing and Handling Granite, Marble and Stone Slabs describes ways to reduce crushed-by, caught-by, or struck-by hazards associated with these potentially dangerous tasks of unloading stone slabs from containers, storing them in "slab-racking" systems, moving and handling stone slabs with equipment, and loading stone slabs onto trucks. Hazards of Using Flammable Liquids in Cutting Laminated Glass SHIB offers safer alternative methods for cutting laminated glass, and recommendations for safe work practices to accomplish this goal.

Quick Action by OSHA Inspector Helps Avert Employee Injuries in Trench Collapse

When a compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) from OSHA's North Aurora, Ill., Area Office arrived at a jobsite to conduct a trench inspection under the agency's local and national emphasis programs, he observed an employee working in an unprotected trench that was six feet deep and three feet wide. The trench wall showed obvious cracks and fissures. The CSHO identified the hazards and the construction employer voluntarily removed the employee from the unsafe trench. The inspector immediately began describing the hazards of a trench wall collapse to the employee and other company officials. Approximately five minutes later, the wall caved in at the spot where the employee had been working.

Agency Renews NACOSH Charter

OSHA renewed the charter of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). The committee, administered by OSHA, advises the Secretaries of Labor and Health and Human Services on occupational safety and health programs. More information is available in the Oct. 10 Federal Register.

FACOSH to Meet Nov. 13 in Washington

The Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) has scheduled its next meeting in Washington on Nov. 13. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 1 p.m. in room N-3437 at the U.S. Department of Labor building, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W. The meeting agenda and procedures for submitting comments and requests to speak are available in the Oct. 28 Federal Register.

New Case Study Focuses on Contractor Safety

Contractor Safety Case Study: Texas Operations Contractor Alliance for Safety at Dow Facility in Freeport, Texas, is a recent product of OSHA's alliance with The Dow Chemical Company showing how Dow's contractors reduced their recordable injury rate by more than 90 percent at the facility.

Parsons Corp. is Seventh Member of OSHA's VPP Corporate Pilot

Parsons Corp., headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., joins the elite group of organizations participating in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Corporate Pilot. Founded in 1944 with locations nationwide and abroad, Parsons Corp. is one of the world's largest engineering and construction firms with revenues totaling more than $3.6 billion. Criteria for VPP Corporate status include a substantial commitment to VPP; a comprehensive, organization-wide safety and health management system; and pre-screening processes to ready sites for VPP approval prior to OSHA review. The six VPP Corporate participants are the General Electric Company, the United States Postal Service, Georgia-Pacific Corp., The Dow Chemical Company, Washington Division of URS Corp., and Fluor Corp.

OSHA Strategic Partnership Achieves Goals and Promotes Safety and Health

In June 2006, the Northern New Jersey National Electrical Contractors Association and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers renewed their OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP). The results of the partnership include achieving a 2007 days away from work, restricted work activity, or job transfer rate 49 percent below and a total case incident rate 50 percent below the 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics' national average for the industry; increasing safety training on safe work practices, promoting safety and health outreach, and identifying, correcting and preventing key hazards within the industry; and doubling the number of participants from seven to 14 since the original partnership in 2003. The OSP Program enables OSHA and its partners to work cooperatively to address critical safety and health issues.

Combustible Dust Explosion Inspection Seminar to Take Place Near Chicago Airports

OSHA's Chicago Region and the Illinois Safety Council (ISC) will be hosting a combustible dust explosion inspection seminar on Nov. 20 in Naperville, Ill. The seminar will offer instructions on OSHA standards relating to combustible dust and on best practices to protect employees against dust explosions. John Newquist, OSHA's assistant regional administrator for cooperative and state programs, will be one of the featured speakers. To learn more or to register, visit ISC's Web site or contact 312-372-9756. The ISC has an alliance with OSHA's area offices in Illinois.

Next Stop for OSHA's National Office Exhibit is Las Vegas

OSHA will host an exhibit with compliance assistance and other informative materials for attendees at the Automotive Service Association's NACE 2008 Expo (International Autobody Congress and Exposition) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nov. 6-8. NACE attendees represent all key segments of the global collision repair industry.

Alliance Program News

National Office: OSHA and the Professional Landcare Network signed a new alliance addressing vehicle safety issues and preventing employee exposure to material handling, slips, trips and fall hazards. Employers and employees will receive valuable workplace safety and health information and training resources on general industry, construction and emergency response issues through a renewed alliance with the American Industrial Hygiene Association. Region X: Promoting safer work practices, improving health performance, and addressing the benefits to employees whose employers incorporate safety and health on the job are the goals of a new alliance formed among OSHA's Anchorage, Alaska, Area Office, Union Oil Co. of California, Peak Oilfield Service Co., Nabors Alaska Drilling Inc., CUDD Pressure Control Inc., McKinley Service and Equipment Inc., and ESS Support Services.

Strategic Partnership Program Update

National Office: Employees in the electrical transmission and distribution industry will continue to gain useful information and best practices for protecting their safety and health through the recently renewed strategic partnership between OSHA and several electrical contractors and industry trade associations. The organizations joining OSHA are Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Henkels & McCoy Inc., MDU Construction Services Group Inc., MYR Group Inc., Pike Electric Inc., Quanta Services Inc., the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Electrical Contractors Association and Edison Electric Institute. Region III: OSHA's Charleston, W.Va., Area Office and the Continental Building Systems, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, formed a partnership that fosters a safe workplace for employees, and helps contractors develop exemplary safety and health management systems during the construction of the Christ Temple Church Life and Health Center in Huntington, W.Va. Region VI: OSHA's Austin, Texas, Area Office partnered with the San Antonio Masonry Contractors Association to provide better workplace safety for employees working in the San Antonio metropolitan area.

Who is Newly "SHARP?"

Visit OSHA's "Who's Newly SHARP" Web page to see the most recent list of companies certified as Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) sites. The SHARP program recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. For information on free safety and health evaluations for your small business, visit OSHA's On-site Consultation Program Web page to learn more about how this program can help protect employees and lower workers' compensation costs.

Latest Voluntary Protection Programs Certifications

Visit "recent approvals" on the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) page of OSHA's Web site to view the latest list of employers approved for new or continued participation in VPP.

"QuickTips" from QuickTakes

November marks the start of a busy season, especially for retail grocery stores where people will flock to purchase their favorite Thanksgiving fixings for that traditional family feast. This season can bring out the best in people while, at the same time, present serious work-related challenges to those employees working in the grocery store industry. Work performed by these employees can be physically demanding. Many of them handle thousands of items each day to stock shelves, check groceries, decorate bakery items, and prepare meat products. These tasks involve several ergonomic risk factors including repetitive stress, which may lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Some important precautions can help ensure that this season is truly a joyous time for working men and women in the industry. To help reduce debilitating ergonomic-related injuries involving lifting, employers should routinely review the jobsite and activities of employees for possible ergonomic issues, paying particular attention to risk factors such as:

  • force;
  • repetition;
  • awkward and static postures; and
  • contact stress.

OSHA's Guidelines for Retail Grocery Stores: Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders is a resource that provides practical recommendations to help grocery store employers and employees eliminate or reduce the number and severity of injuries in their workplaces. The Ergonomics Safety and Health Topics Web page provides the agency's strategy for reducing injuries and illnesses from MSDs in the workplace. Visit OSHA's Web site and Publications page for more resources on improving safety and health on the job. Look for more "QuickTips" on another occupational safety and health topic in the next issue.

Clarification on the Classification of Hard Hats

In 1997, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) revised the ANSI Z89.1 standard. The ANSI Z89.1-1997 standard contained a new classification system for protective helmets. In this edition, head protective helmets meeting the requirements of this standard are classified differently by both Type and Class than in the current OSHA-incorporated 1986 edition. The old designations, Type 1 (hats) and Type 2 (caps), are no longer used. The electrical insulation classifications of Class G (General), Class E (Electrical), and Class C (Conductive - no electrical protection) replace the former Classes A, B, and C, respectively, to make the designations more user-friendly. OSHA is in the process of updating its incorporated reference to recognize not only the 1997 edition of the ANSI standard, but also the 2003 edition that uses the new classification.

Editor: Elaine Fraser, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999