|November 2, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 22|
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Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers. In response to this, OSHA has launched a new Regional Emphasis Program in eight states to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors affecting industry workers.
The targeted Southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas – include some of the nation's largest poultry producers.
A report issued last week by the anti-poverty organization Oxfam America alleged that poultry workers often face employer retaliation for reporting injuries and illnesses or voicing concerns about safety.
OSHA's emphasis program began Oct. 26 with a three-month period of education and outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations and workers. The agency will then begin its targeted enforcement phase, including on-site inspections and a review of poultry processing production operations, working conditions, recordkeeping, chemical handling and safety and health programs to ensure compliance. The emphasis program ends Oct. 25, 2016, unless extended.
A new study from the Institute for Work and Health concludes that citations with penalties from inspections reduce workplace injuries.
Researchers performed a systematic review to determine the effectiveness of the enforcement of occupational safety and health regulation in creating incentives for firms to focus on safety and health issues. While mixed evidence was found on the effectiveness of the general threat of an inspection, the study found strong evidence that actual citations and penalties reduce the frequency or severity of injuries.
This study builds on the findings from several other recent studies showing that injury rates decrease at an establishment in the years following an OSHA inspection.
"This confirms what we have been saying for a long time – that OSHA inspections and penalties are important and effective components of a comprehensive strategy to improve workplace safety and health," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "That's why we have made strong, fair and effective enforcement one of OSHA's primary objectives in this Administration." To better meet this goal, OSHA recently changed the way it measures its inspections to give greater weight to those that are more impactful.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses*, released Oct. 29, shows that private industry employers reported nearly 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2014. While the incidence rate of total recordable cases fell slightly, the rates for cases involving days away from work and for cases of job transfer or restriction were unchanged. After reviewing the report, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels issued a statement on the need to better protect workers:
"Today's Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that too many workers are still being injured or sickened on the job. Workplace injuries and illnesses have a devastating effect on workers, their families, and the businesses where they occur. These injuries and illnesses contribute to the pressing issue of income inequality: they force working families out of the middle class and into poverty, and keep the families of lower-wage workers from entering the middle class and achieving the American Dream."
Ashley Furniture has again been fined for failing to protect workers from safety hazards. OSHA cited the nation's largest furniture retailer with eight willful, serious and repeated violations found at its Whitehall, Wis., factory. Violations include failing to implement procedures to prevent machines from unintentionally starting when operators changed blades, failing to use locking devices to prevent machines from moving, and exposing workers to dangerous machine parts while cleaning machines and clearing jams. The company was fined $431,000. Ashley Furniture was also fined $1,766,000 in January and $83,200 in July at other company facilities in Wisconsin. The company was placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program earlier this year. Read the news release for more information.
Employees at Bellevue Manufacturing Co. were found to be exposed to serious hazards —including amputations, falls, electric shock and confined spaces — according to an OSHA investigation. The Bellevue, Ohio, agricultural manufacturer was cited for 19 safety and health violations with proposed fines of $112,500. Additional violations include the company's failure to provide eye and face protection and eye wash stations for workers exposed to battery acid, and not training workers on how to safely operate powered industrial vehicles. For more information, read the news brief.
A machine operator for Piramal Glass USA suffered third-degree burns on his legs and hands when molten glass bottles fell on the factory floor, igniting oil residue. The glass manufacturer had not provided the worker with fire-retardant protective clothing. "A worker suffered excruciating injuries that could affect his health for years because Piramal Glass ignored company policy to require flame-resistant clothing for workers on the hot end of the bottle-making line," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. OSHA cited the Park Hills, Mo., company with eight safety violations and proposed penalties of $122,000. Other violations include failing to keep floors clean of oil leaking from machines and failing to provide training on personal protective equipment requirements and the use of fire extinguishers. Read the news release for more information.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined two construction companies more than $300,000 for exposing workers to trench cave-in hazards. EMI Design & Construction Inc. and Salt Light Investments Inc. violated a stop-work order issued by Cal/OSHA after investigators found 11-foot unshored walls at a residential construction site. For more information, read the Cal/OSHA news release*
The Washington Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued fines totaling nearly $87,000 to four construction contractors for violations that contributed to a concrete slab falling and fatally crushing a young couple and their infant son. The investigation revealed that WHH Nisqually, Highmark Concrete Contractors, Staton Companies and Hamilton Construction failed to stop work despite concerns about the barrier falling down to the roadway below during demolition of a bridge. For more information, read the Washington DOSH news release.
Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.
On September 24 and 25, staff from OSHA's regional office in Atlanta welcomed a delegation of occupational safety officers from Hong Kong's Labour Department. The OSHA office arranged the visit to provide the delegates with valuable insight into OSHA enforcement activities, regulatory framework*, standards and guidance regarding safe work practices.
OSHA staff gave presentations on temporary workers, heat stress, musculoskeletal disorders, workplace violence and chemical exposure. The delegates also visited the construction site of the Mercedes-Benz stadium, an OSHA Partnership site, where they participated in presentations on safety features and the construction planning phase. The delegates also met with OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels on subjects including the use of criminal prosecution as a deterrence and media engagement to further communicate safety and health, and workers' rights messaging.
In response to a high number of workplace amputations in Arkansas, OSHA's Little Rock Area Office organized the Arkansas Amputation Prevention Stand-Down Sept. 14-29 to educate employers and workers on prevention. As a result, 16,451 participants received amputation awareness training; 2,723 self-audits were conducted by employers; 3,380 hazards were identified; and 7,416 workers were removed from hazardous conditions. "We're gratified that so many employers and workers came away from this event with a better understanding of amputation hazards and how to correct them before they cause a permanent, debilitating injury," stated Carlos Reynolds, OSHA's area director in Little Rock. Read the success story for more information.
On October 17, the mobile Mexican Consulate and OSHA visited the rural farming community of Norwalk, Ohio. Events such as these serve stakeholders in rural areas who are not able to travel to more populous areas to receive consular assistance and important information on workplace rights.
Representatives from OSHA's Toledo Area Office provided information about OSHA, employee rights, and how to contact OSHA to file a complaint. Also participating were staff from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and representatives from the Cleveland-based MetroHealth System.
OSHA has entered into an alliance with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries to provide information and training resources to help protect the safety and health of workers in the scrap recycling industry. During the two-year agreement, the organizations will work cooperatively to prevent workers' exposure to machinery, chemical and other workplace hazards, and to encourage a better understanding of workers' rights and employer responsibilities.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith and community-based organizations, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
On October 16, OSHA entered into a strategic partnership with Black and Veatch Construction Inc. to protect the 500 contractors and subcontractors working on construction of the Oregon Clean Energy Center in Oregon, Ohio. The goal of the partnership is to establish measures to prevent common occupational hazards. This includes an emphasis on the use of personal protective equipment, job site orientations and weekly safety meetings. Contractors working at the site will also be required to provide copies of their written safety and health plans and follow established safety protocols. "This marks the 20th project where the company has engaged in OSHA's cooperative compliance programs," said Brad Warn, vice president and director of BVCI. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, December 1-2, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The Temporary Workers Work Group will meet Dec. 1 and the full committee will meet Dec. 2. Both meetings are open to the public.
The tentative agenda for the committee meeting includes: an update on OSHA initiatives from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels; remarks from Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. John Howard; a report from the NACOSH Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee; and a report from the NACOSH Temporary Workers Work Group on developing best practice language including protecting temporary workers in injury and illness protection programs.
Comments and requests to speak at the NACOSH meeting may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail or facsimile. The deadline for submitting comments and requests to speak is Nov. 20, 2015. See the Federal Register notice for details.
OSHA's Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1-2 for updates and discussions with agency officials. Three working groups — on Health Hazards, Emerging Issues and Prevention through Design; Temporary Workers; and Training and Outreach — will meet Tuesday, Dec. 1. The full committee meets the following day. The meetings are open to the public.
The tentative agenda includes remarks from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, followed by updates from OSHA's Directorate of Construction and data on the 2015 National Safety Stand-Down. Additionally, OSHA is accepting nominations for six new members to serve on the 15-member committee. Nominations are sought for members representing employees (2), employers (2), the general public (1) and state safety and health agencies (1).
Committee member nominations and requests to speak at the meeting may be submitted at www.regulations.gov, by mail or by facsimile. Submission deadlines are Nov. 13 for comments and requests to speak, and Dec. 28 for member nominations. See the Federal Register notice for details.
At a public meeting on Nov. 12, OSHA will hear stakeholder feedback on the papers submitted for the 30th session of the United Nations Sub-committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C. In addition, OSHA will be hosting a meeting of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council beginning at 3:00 p.m. Council members will provide an update on the RCC accomplishments and ongoing activities, and seek input from stakeholders on RCC priorities and next steps. For information on how to register and participate in the meetings, please visit the Hazard Communication website.
OSHA's newly updated Hazard Communication webpage incorporates drop-down tabs to all topics related to the revised standard, including access to letters of interpretation, the standard, guidance documents and frequently asked questions. The revised webpage also includes a new international tab with access to the Regulatory Cooperation Council information. Another new tab provides history and background on how OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard aligns with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.
The National Grain and Feed Association has issued a safety alert* to help better protect workers from grain handling hazards. The alert describes the dangers of working in grain storage bins and explains what employers must do to prevent worker injury and death. It also offers links to resources on grain engulfment prevention. For more information, visit OSHA's grain handling safety page.
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