|November 3, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 21|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
New and updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to protect health care workers and additional compliance assistance materials are available on OSHA's Ebola page at www.osha.gov/ebola. Materials include: infection prevention and control guidelines, procedures for putting on and removing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, and information for emergency medical responders and 911 call takers.
The OSHA Ebola page also includes an OSHA fact sheet on protecting workers (not in healthcare or laboratories) involved in cleaning and decontamination of surfaces that may be contaminated with Ebola virus. Check the page frequently for the latest information.
OSHA reminds employers that the OSH Act protects workers who complain to their employer, OSHA or other government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions in the workplace. You cannot be transferred, denied a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, or punished in any other way because you used any right given to you under the OSH Act. If you have been punished or discriminated against for using your rights, you must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged reprisal for most complaints.
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Drivers and loading-dock workers at UniFirst Corp.’s West Caldwell, N.J., facility were exposed to bloodborne pathogens and lead hazards, according to an administrative law judge from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The Sept. 30 ruling affirmed OSHA's citations to the company for violations of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and lead hazards from contaminated laundry and work surfaces at the facility.
The judge found that the majority of the company's workers received neither the Hepatitis B vaccine nor signed the form declining the vaccine, and in some cases weren't given the option to receive the vaccine until long after being hired. Moreover, UniFirst's management routinely and intentionally falsified training sign-in sheets, intentionally required workers to sign training sign-in sheets without receiving training, forged workers' signatures, and allowed training to be conducted by managers who were not competent in the subjects they taught. For more information, read the news release.
Dollar Tree Stores Inc. was cited by OSHA for willfully and repeatedly exposing workers to serious hazards at its Watauga, Texas, store. Proposed penalties total $262,500. The national discount chain has been cited for more than 200 safety and health violations since 2009.
"In the past five months, OSHA has issued more than $800,000 in fines to Dollar Tree Stores for the same or similar violations," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "This latest incident yet again demonstrates the company's deliberate and ongoing refusal to effectively address hazards that have been cited multiple times at their stores across the country. OSHA will not tolerate such blatant disregard for worker safety."
Violations at the Watauga store include failing to ensure exit doors were kept clear and unobstructed and that products were stored in a stable and secure manner For more information, read the news release.
Wayne Farms LLC, which makes products under brand names Dutch Quality House and Platinum Harvest, was cited by OSHA for exposing workers to dangerous machinery, fall and musculoskeletal disorder hazards. OSHA issued 11 citations to the poultry processing plant in Jack, Ala., including nine serious, one repeat and one other-than-serious violation. The inspection was initiated after the agency received a complaint from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Proposed penalties total $102,600.
"OSHA found that workers in this plant were exposed to safety and musculoskeletal hazards and suffered serious injuries as a result. The outcome of this investigation deepened our concern about musculoskeletal hazards in poultry plants, where employees are at increased risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other disorders that affect the nerves, muscles and tendons," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "These types of injuries are preventable by implementing appropriate engineering and administrative controls in the workplace, and when they occur, they must be treated early with appropriate medical care to prevent the illness from progressing. However, in this plant, OSHA found workers were often required to seek assistance from the company's on-site nurse many times before they were referred to a physician."
"Our investigation revealed that employees suffered musculoskeletal injuries, and Wayne Farms failed to record those injuries and properly manage the medical treatment of injured employees at the facility," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "By failing to report injuries, failing to refer employees to physicians and discouraging employees from seeking medical treatment, Wayne Farms effectively concealed the extent to which these poultry plant workers were suffering work-related injuries and illnesses. And as a result, it reported an artificially lower injury and illness rate.
Violations include the employer's failure to protect workers from moving machine parts during maintenance and exposing workers to unguarded machines, slippery floors and fall hazards. In addition, OSHA issued two more serious general duty clause citations for musculoskeletal disorder hazards. For more information, read the news release.
In an October 2014 decision on the National Oilseed case, the District of Columbia circuit court upheld OSHA's revised Hazard Communication standard as it applies to combustible grain dust hazards. The standard was updated in 2012 to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
"Combustible grain dust fires and explosions have killed and injured thousands of workers. The court determined that employers such as grain elevators with combustible dust hazards in their workplaces who are subject to the Grain Handling standard must also comply with the HazCom standard. Under the HazCom standard, employers must communicate the hazards of a chemical regardless of the level of exposure to the chemical in a particular downstream workplace and requires warnings even where the evidence about the chemical's hazardous qualities does not meet the threshold that would be needed to justify an OSHA standard."
To learn more about OSHA's HazCom standard, including compliance assistance resources and effective dates, visit www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.
A judge has ordered that an Illinois business owner be taken into custody after the employer failed to correct serious trenching hazards and pay OSHA penalties. On Oct. 27, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion filed by Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez against the owner of Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor Inc., based in Elk Grove Village, Ill. This action followed the owner's long history of failing to comply with OSHA standards and orders of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
In October 2013, the Court issued an enforcement order against Neri and when he failed to comply, the Court held Neri in contempt in July 2014 and threatened him with possible incarceration. Last week, after receiving no response from Neri, the Court granted the Secretary's motion to proceed with coercive actions, ordering the U.S. Marshal to place Neri in the custody of the Attorney General. Neri will remain in custody until a District or Magistrate Judge certifies to the Court that he has either fully complied with the Court's enforcement order or has demonstrated he is unable to comply.
As part of OSHA's ongoing national dialogue on preventing work-related illness from exposure to hazardous substances, William Perry, director of OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance, participated in an Oct.21 session on updating the agency's PELs at a conference held by the American Industrial Hygienists Association. OSHA has issued a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.
Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions to OSHA. The comment period will close on April 8, 2015. For more information, see the news release and visit OSHA's Web page on preventing occupational illnesses through safer chemical management.
The National Safety Council recently launched the Journey to Safety Excellence campaign — a workplace advocacy initiative focusing on continuous improvement to help employers make workplaces safer across the country.
The campaign will help save workers’ lives and help businesses save money. The NSC reports that workplace injuries and fatalities cost our economy $198.2 billion in 2012.
In a recent guest post on the official DOL blog, NSC CEO and President Deborah Hersman writes, "A positive safety culture can boost employee morale, increase productivity and lower costs…because every worker should go home each day in the same condition as they arrived." Employers can click here to join the journey today.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Michigan's program for workplace safety and health, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is offering matching grant awards of up to $5,000 to one hundred businesses. Small employers who qualify may use the grant to purchase equipment to create a safer and healthier work environment and reduce the risk of worker injury and illness. For more information contact MIOSHA's Consultation, Education, and Training Grant administrator at (517) 322-1865 or visit www.michigan.gov/mioshagrants.
In Eau Claire, Wisc., the Samuels Group and OSHA have renewed their strategic partnership to protect and educate workers on construction hazards during the Sacred Heart Hospital Curtail Wall Replacement Project. The partnership will focus on training employers and approximately 50 workers about construction hazards workers face daily on the job, including fall, electrical, caught-in and struck-by hazards. These dangers are the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the industry. The Samuels Group has implemented a site-specific safety and health program that includes a weekly safety stand-down; daily stretch and flexes program; and job site hazard training. For more information, see the news release and OSHA's Strategic Partnerships Web page.
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez recently appointed or re-appointed members to the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee, which advises, consults with and makes recommendations on ways to improve the fairness, efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of OSHA's whistleblower protection programs. Committee members are selected to represent the interests of the public, management, labor, states, and federal agencies. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and 21 other statutes protecting workers who report reasonably perceived violations in various workplaces. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA has also scheduled a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Dec. 3-4, 2014, in Washington, D.C. The meeting agenda includes remarks from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, and updates on Directorate of Construction rulemakings and issues related to OSHA's communications tower initiative, respiratory protection, recordkeeping and electric power transmission and distribution. The meeting is open to the public. Workgroup meetings will be held concurrently from 1- 3 p.m. ET, Dec. 3 in Room N-4437 A-C at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The full committee will meet from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Dec. 4 in Room N-4437 A-C. Comments and requests to speak must be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, by mail or facsimile before Nov. 12, 2014. See the Federal Register notice for details.
Last month OSHA issued a directive for OSHA compliance officers on enforcing requirements of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The new directive provides OSHA compliance personnel with direction on performing inspections where power-operated equipment, covered by Subpart CC - Cranes and Derricks in Construction, is present on a construction worksite.
The Cranes and Derricks standard was issued in 2010. This directive provides guidance to OSHA compliance officers when conducting inspections.
OSHA's Cranes and Derricks Safety Web page provides compliance assistance on equipment requirements for assembly and disassembly, qualified rigger, signal person qualifications and wire rope inspections; frequently asked questions; and PowerPoint presentations and videos explaining the revised rule and the hazards involved in crane operations.
To assist employers in selecting effective fall protection methods to protect workers in residential construction, a new website provides details about equipment highlighted in OSHA's Guidance Document for Residential Construction.
A description or purpose of each fall protection device is listed, as well as the stage of construction where the device could be used, pictures of the device in use, installation instructions, and information about the manufacturer, vendors, and cost. The site, which incorporates input from residential construction workers, safety personnel, trainers, and contractors, was developed by Dr. Vicki Kaskutas, a researcher from Washington University School of Medicine, with support from the Center for Construction Research and Training through a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health cooperative agreement.
A new wallet-sized card, "OSHA Reporting Requirements for Employers," details the severe injuries employers are now required to report to OSHA. For employers in Federal OSHA states, the new reporting requirements go into effect on January. The card also explains how employers can report by phone, online and in person.
Another new wallet card, "OSHA's Hazard Identification Training Tool," advertises a new training tool from OSHA designed to educate businesses about the hazard identification process using realistic workplace simulations.
OSHA has also published a new wallet card "Whistleblowers: Work without Risk," to educate workers about their right to raise workplace safety and health concerns, to ask OSHA to inspect their workplaces, and to be protected from retaliation for exercising these rights. The card is also available in Spanish.
Publications are available to download at no cost by visiting OSHA's publications page. To order publications, contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. Read the latest post by Deborah Hersman, CEO and President of the National Safety Council, on how the Journey to Safety Excellence starts with you. DOL offers the option to receive blog updates by email.
Are you interested in a career with the Department of Labor? DOL has job opportunities throughout the country, including openings in OSHA.
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