|December 1, 2009 · Volume 8, Issue 22|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In This Issue
Dr. David Michaels was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was sworn in on Dec. 9 as Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Dr. Michaels is a distinguished scientist and has conducted epidemiologic studies examining the hazards facing printers, construction workers, bus drivers and other groups of workers. Before coming to OSHA, he was a professor and interim chair at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services' Department of Environmental and Occupational Health. He is the author of Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health (Oxford University Press, 2008) and articles in Science, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Scientific American, and other scientific publications. From 1998-2001, Dr. Michaels served as assistant secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health in the Department of Energy where he was responsible for protecting the health of workers, communities and the environment around the nation's nuclear weapons facilities.
OSHA proposed almost $1.6 million in fines against Tempel Grain Elevators following the death of a teen worker at a grain storage site in Haswell, Colo. The teen suffocated after being engulfed by grain. He was not provided any training or personal protective equipment, such as a body harness or lifeline, to protect against engulfment. OSHA also proposed nearly half a million dollars in fines against Cambria Contracting Inc. for exposing young workers to asbestos hazards. These workers also were not provided training and the proper PPE. In addition, four other companies were cited for egregious violations of safety and health standards totaling almost $89 million in proposed fines, including $87 million issued to BP. In the last two months, OSHA has addressed more egregious cases and issued higher fines than in the previous fiscal year. "This reflects Secretary Solis' commitment to refocus OSHA's priorities on writing and enforcing standards to protect workers," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jordan Barab. Details are on OSHA's news releases Web page.
The regulations outlined in the U.S. Department of Labor's Semiannual Regulatory Agenda published Dec. 7 are meant to improve the lives of workers throughout their working careers, including ensuring a safe and secure workplace. OSHA's regulatory priorities include addressing topics such as airborne infectious diseases, cranes and derricks and combustible dust. Read the Regulatory Agenda for details.
In support of the Obama Administration's Open Government Directive launched Dec. 9, OSHA is systematically publishing employer-specific information about occupational fatalities on its Web site. Employers and workers can use this information to help assure worker safety and health in their own workplaces by taking steps to identify dangerous conditions and prevent future accidents.
Ensuring the safety and health of emergency medical services responders assisting patients at hazardous substance release sites is the focus of a new OSHA publication. "Best Practices for Protecting EMS Responders during Treatment and Transport of Victims of Hazardous Substance Releases" is a companion document to OSHA's "Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers." It can be downloaded from OSHA's publications page. Printed copies will be available Jan. 1, 2010.
The Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet Dec. 10-11, 2009, at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. Read the Nov. 25 news release for details.
OSHA's Regions I and II and DOL's Wage and Hour Division's Northeast Region will sign an alliance Dec. 10 with the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, the Catholic Migration Office of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, and the New York State Department of Labor to support the LABORAL call center. LABORAL will promote the rights and safety of Mexican and other Hispanic workers in the Region.
Making Green Jobs Safe: Integrating Occupational Safety and Health into Green and Sustainability is the focus of a Dec. 14-16 workshop in Washington, D.C., organized by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The event stems from NIOSH's new Going Green: Safe and Healthy Jobs initiative to ensure green jobs are good for workers by integrating worker safety and health. Visit the conference Web site for more information.
The National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Services' Worker Education and Training Program, serves as a central repository for worker curricula, technical reports and weekly news on hazardous materials, waste operations and emergency response. For more information, visit the Clearinghouse's Web site.
In March, a ski patroller died after a fall while on duty in the backcountry of a mountain resort. She was not wearing a helmet. Ski season is here, so OSHA is encouraging ski resort employers and workers, especially ski patrollers, to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from severe injury while on the job. Personal protective equipment is one of the first lines of defense against injury. OSHA's Personal Protective Equipment Safety and Health Topics Web page offers information about what standards apply to PPE, what PPE is appropriate for workplace hazards, and ways PPE can be evaluated and improved.
Are you interested in a career with DOL? The department has job opportunities throughout the country. OSHA is recruiting an assistant regional administrator for administrative programs for the Chicago Region. Visit the announcement for details. For more Department of Labor news, see DOL's electronic newsletter.