|December 1, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 24||
OSHA invites interested parties to a facilitated discussion about the agency's updated draft Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines on Wednesday, December 9, from 1-3 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Labor's Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. First published in 1989 to help employers establish their own safety and health programs, the voluntary guidelines are being updated to reflect best thinking and experiences from employers that have successfully used them. New material should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses. Updates also address ways in which multiple employers at the same worksite can coordinate efforts to protect all workers. The discussion will be led by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. To register and learn how to submit questions in advance, visit the discussion webpage.
A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that more than three-quarters of the public thinks the federal government is doing a good job of setting fair and safe workplace standards. In contrast, the poll also found that overall trust in the government and political leaders are near historic lows. Despite the public’s professed cynicism for government programs in general, many voiced strong support in specific areas, with setting safe standards for workplaces the 2nd highest rated. And the support was bipartisan: According to the Pew report, “Large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans say [the government] does a good job of responding to natural disasters (82% and 78%, respectively) and setting fair and safe standards for workplaces (79% and 77%, respectively).” The poll results were based on more than 6,000 interviews conducted between August 27 and October 4, 2015.
Twice in 14 months, temporary workers suffered terrible injuries from unguarded machines at furniture manufacturer Moore Co. Inc., resulting in amputated fingers and removal of hand and arm skin. Following the most recent incident, OSHA investigators found the company exposed workers to moving machine parts, failed to shut down machines properly and ensure they would not start during servicing, and failed to provide personal protective equipment to protect workers from corrosive chemicals. The company was issued $122,500 in proposed fines for three repeated and six serious violations and was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. In addition, OSHA proposed $38,500 in fines to staffing agency Manpower Group US Inc., which provided the workers in both incidents. For more information, read the news release.
During the renovation of an apartment building in San Antonio, Texas, construction employers directed workers to remove asbestos-laden flooring materials without taking precautions to protect them from the dangerous material, as required by law. The work was carried out by three companies – FBZ Broadway LP, Roscoe Properties Inc. and One Eighty Construction Inc. – all owned by Jason Berkowitz. One of the companies was cited by OSHA in April for the same violation. "There is simply no excuse for continuing to expose workers to this danger," said Alejandro Porter, director of OSHA’s San Antonio office. The companies face proposed penalties of $112,000 for the latest violations. For more information, read the news brief.
OSHA issued more than 20 citations for safety and health violations against United Hospital Supply Corp. following an inspection of the Burlington, N.J., facility where the company manufactures metal cabinets. Inspectors found that during welding operations, welding stations were not enclosed with noncombustible screens and workers were exposed to hazardous ultraviolet light. Other citations were issued for electrical hazards, unguarded machinery, lack of hand protection, and uninspected overhead cranes. Many of the same violations were found during an inspection of the facility in 2010. "In the last five years, the company has shown plain indifference by not implementing or maintaining corrective actions to address these hazards," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, OSHA's area director in Marlton. For more information, see the news brief.
OSHA cited St. John Cemetery Corp. for two willful and three serious violations of workplace safety standards after an employee was buried up to his waist when the walls of an open grave collapsed. OSHA inspectors found that the excavation and its support systems lacked adequate protection against cave-ins and the excavation had not been inspected to identify such deficiencies. "This worker literally came close to an early grave because the cemetery failed to provide proper excavation protections," said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA’s Long Island area director. Proposed penalties are $123,200. For more information see the news brief.
The North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division issued fines $151,900 against Associated Scaffolding Company Inc. following the deaths of three construction workers in Raleigh. Jose Erasmo Hernandez, Jose Luis Lopez-Ramirez, and Anderson Almeida were killed in a five-story fall when the scaffolding they were on collapsed. The company was cited with violations that included overloading the scaffolding and failing to brace it properly.
Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.
OSHA regularly enters into Strategic Partnerships with trade associations and employers to protect workers in the construction industry.
OSHA's area offices in St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., continue to work with the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri to promote safe and healthful working conditions in the residential construction industry. The partnership, in its 10th year, gives Association members access to educational opportunities, safety materials and resources, to assist them in their efforts to ensure the safety of their workers.
OSHA’s San Antonio Area Office and Jordan Foster Construction formed a similar partnership to protect 150 workers during the construction of the 270,000 square foot Security Service Credit Union Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas.
Through its Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA partners with employers, workers, professional and trade associations, labor organizations and other interested stakeholders to establish specific goals, strategies and performance measures to improve worker safety and health.
OSHA has developed a new webpage that addresses workplace violence prevention in healthcare settings. The webpage, part of OSHA’s Worker Safety in Hospitals webpage website, contains tools to help healthcare facilities design a violence prevention program using core elements including: management commitment and worker participation; worksite analysis and hazard identification; hazard prevention and control; safety and health training; and recordkeeping and program evaluation. The page also provides real-life examples from healthcare facilities that have integrated successful workplace violence prevention programs, as well as models of how a workplace violence prevention program can enhance an organization’s strategies for compliance, accreditation and a culture of safety. For more information, read the news release and visit the Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare page.
OSHA's free Job Safety and Health: It's the Law! poster is now available online in French*, Arabic* and Vietnamese*. This is in addition to the versions that were already available in English*, Chinese*, Korean*, Nepali*, Spanish*, Polish* and Portuguese*. The poster informs workers of their rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. All covered employers are required to predominantly display the poster in their workplaces where workers can see it. For more information about the poster and how to get copies in the various languages, visit OSHA's workplace poster webpage.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. See our latest posts:
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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