December 1, 2010 · Volume 9, Issue 23
A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health
OSHA extended its Shipbreaking National Emphasis Program Nov. 4. Shipbreaking is the process of dismantling an obsolete vessel's structure for scrapping or disposal. Shipbreaking workers face hazards including falls from scaffolds and ladders, burns from welding torches, and illnesses from exposure to asbestos, lead and other substances (see OSHA's Shipbreaking eTool for more information). The Shipbreaking NEP schedules programmed inspections of shipbreaking operations under contract with the U.S. Navy and the Maritime Administration to ensure that workers are being properly protected. The NEP supports OSHA's goal to reduce injuries and illnesses among Latino workers, who make up a significant portion of the shipbreaking workforce.
OSHA also issued a Nov. 4 directive updating employer requirements to provide shipyard workers with Personal Protective Equipment--such as gloves, safety harnesses, and goggles--needed to safely perform their jobs. Among other things, the directive clarifies the PPE that employers must provide at no cost to their workers and under what circumstances employers must pay for replacement PPE.
The Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet Dec. 9-10 in Washington, D.C., to discuss recent OSHA activities and their impact on construction workers. In conjunction with the full committee meeting, ACCSH work groups, including the newly-established Injury and Illness Prevention Program work group, will meet Dec. 7-8. The agenda for the ACCSH meeting includes remarks from OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels and the Directorate of Construction, updates on Injury and Illness Prevention Program rulemaking and the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, and ACCSH work group reports. The other ACCSH work groups that will meet are Silica and Other Construction Health Hazards, Green Jobs, Diversity -- Women in Construction, Multilingual Issues, Nailguns, Training and Education and Prevention by Design. See the Federal Register notice for more information on the ACCSH meeting.
OSHA recently issued a directive updating its Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program, known as FEDTARG, for fiscal year 2011. FEDTARG outlines procedures for carrying out programmed inspections at some of the most hazardous federal workplaces, including all those reporting 100 or more lost time cases during fiscal year 2010. Changes to this directive include updating OSHA's recordkeeping violation policy and defining a lost time case as an incident in which a worker loses time from work beyond the date of the injury. See the directive for more information on FEDTARG 2011. FEDTARG is run by OSHA's Office of Federal Agency Programs, which represents federal worker safety and health issues.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health co-sponsored the New York City Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health Nov. 16 at Lehman College, Bronx, N.Y. The summit brought together workers, labor groups, community organizations, consulates, educators, government officials, safety and health professionals, employers and other partners to share the most effective strategies for reaching Latino workers and informing them of their right to a safe and healthful workplace. Approximately 400 people attended the event. Speakers included Robert Asaro-Angelo, Department of Labor representative for the eastern region; Diana Cortéz, OSHA area director and regional Hispanic coordinator; Sonia Ivany, president of the NYC Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; and John Delgado and Byron Silva of the Laborers International Union of North America.
This summit built on the success of the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health & Safety hosted by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis April 14-15 in Houston, Texas. All OSHA regions have been hosting follow-up summits and educational conferences to provide vulnerable worker populations with education, training and assistance. The New York City summit follows four local "OSHA Listens" sessions in New England, a multi-state conference of interfaith community organizations in the Midwest, a New Jersey conference on Latino worker health and safety held this summer and many additional outreach meetings held throughout the nation.
OSHA cited Aerospace/Defense Coatings of Georgia Inc. and Weatherford International Ltd. with more than 50 health and safety violations and fined the companies $561,900 for hazards that included exposing workers to hexavalent chromium, a toxic chemical used in pigments, spray paints and coatings.
OSHA began its inspection of Aerospace/Defense Coatings' Macon, Ga., plant after receiving a worker complaint about health hazards there. Inspectors found that the company willfully disregarded the health of its workers by overexposing them to hexavalent chromium, failing to provide them with adequate respirator protection and personal protective equipment and failing to perform periodic monitoring of hexavalent chromium exposure. OSHA fined the company $300,400 and cited it with 19 violations.
OSHA began its inspection of Weatherford International's Longview, Texas, facility after receiving a complaint that workers were experiencing headaches and nosebleeds from exposure to hexavalent chromium. Inspectors found that the company willfully jeopardized its workers' health by failing to ensure workers' airborne exposure to hexavalent chromium did not exceed OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limit. OSHA fined the company $261,500 and cited it with 33 violations.
OSHA cited Interstate Brands Corporation, a manufacturer of bakery products, with 20 safety violations and fined the company $274,500 after two separate inspections of its Schiller Park, Ill., plant found that workers were being willfully exposed to potentially fatal injuries from unsafe machinery and other hazards. OSHA inspectors responding to worker complaints found hazards such as forklifts that weren't properly maintained and were being operated by workers in unsafe passages and aisles, and machinery that was not properly guarded to prevent workers' clothing or limbs from being caught in moving parts during operation. See the news release for more information on Interstate Brands' safety violations.
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels participated in a panel discussion Nov. 8 in Denver at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting. Representatives of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board also took part in the panel discussion on efforts to reduce occupational health disparities and advance worker rights and protections.
Michaels shared with the audience OSHA's efforts to address the agency's outdated workplace chemicals Permissible Exposure Limits. Most of OSHA's PELs were adopted when the agency was first created and have remained unchanged even though health data indicates many chemicals pose hazards to workers at levels below those permitted by many of OSHA's PELs. OSHA held a Web forum in August to solicit nominations on the top chemicals of concern and received more than 130 nominations for OSHA to focus its initial efforts. Using those nominations, input from the OSHA field, and other preliminary information, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will work together on an exercise to categorize the chemicals in a draft list according to their toxic characteristics. Using information learned from this exercise, as well as other research, OSHA's goal is to soon have a final list of chemicals on which to focus the agency's efforts.
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels addressed the staff of Washington's Division of Occupational Safety and Health by teleconference during the Nov. 16 State Plan Safety and Health Symposium in Tumwater, Wash. In his remarks broadcast to the approximately 350 DOSH occupational safety and health professionals gathered at the symposium, Michaels commended the Washington state agency for the "integral part it plays in the national OSHA effort," as do all 27 OSHA-approved State Plans. This included Washington DOSH citing Tesoro Corporation for almost $2.4 million -- the largest citation in the state's history -- for an oil refinery explosion that killed seven workers in April. "This was a preventable tragedy, and I commend you for the hard work it took to pursue this case," said Michaels. He also addressed the importance of federal OSHA working with all State Occupational Safety and Health Plans to address deficiencies revealed in a recent OSHA evaluation and improve worker protections:
"It's up to us -- federal OSHA and the State Plans -- to work together to level the playing field by enforcing rules that everyone must follow to ensure fair competition in the marketplace. Good employers and workers everywhere are depending on us to deliver a consistent, coherent and compelling message, coast to coast: Competition, limited resources or just 'being too busy to bother' can never be an excuse to gamble with human lives."
OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab delivered a keynote speech Nov. 23 at the Building Trades Employers' Association of New York 2010 Safety Conference. Barab told approximately 400 representatives of labor and management from the New York City construction industry that construction fatality numbers are lower this year in part because of better compliance and effective enforcement of the rules by OSHA and the city's Department of Buildings. Despite this encouraging figure, Barab stressed the need to strengthen worker protections from construction hazards including hearing loss, crystalline silica exposure, electrocutions, being struck by and caught between objects and slips, trips and falls. As an example, Barab mentioned a steel erection contractor OSHA recently cited for willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards after a 36-year-old non-union company worker was killed in a fall at a Brooklyn construction site in May.
"All of us here in this room understand that construction workers and their families should not, can not, must not accept risk of death as a condition for employment," Barab said, "and neither should we."
Barab gave examples of OSHA's efforts to help prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths among construction workers through standards and initiatives including the agency's new cranes and derricks rule and Building Inspector pilot program.
Dawson Geophysical contacted OSHA's On-site Consultation Program in 2008 to determine if the Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Management System it had instituted was in need of improvements to better eliminate, reduce or isolate workplace hazards. Dawson, which provides seismic studies to oil and gas drilling operations, requested that the Texas On-site Consultation Program conduct a compliance audit of the company's health and safety management system at its Midland, Texas, field office and maintenance facility.
The consultant conducted a walkthrough of the facility to assist with hazard identification, recommend corrective measures, and provide guidance on OSHA standards. For example, the consultant provided guidance on identifying electrical hazards and suggested locations for emergency eyewash stations. The consultant also evaluated Dawson's health and safety management system and provided recommendations for improvement. After implementing the consultant's recommendations, Dawson's Midland facility was accepted into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program. SHARP recognizes small business employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. Visit OSHA's Web site to read more about this safety and health success story.
The Illinois Department of Labor held a Nov. 23 lunch at Harper College in Palatine, Ill., to educate the public about the department's efforts to protect Illinois workers. Topics included new OSHA standards, workplace violence and other worker safety and health issues addressed by IDOL's Public Employee Safety and Education Division, which runs the state's OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plan that covers public employees only. This was the first in a series of Lunch with Labor events to be held around the state. Others will be held Dec. 16 at Sauk Valley Community College; Jan. 12, 2011, at John A. Logan College; and Feb. 24, 2011, at the University of Illinois--Springfield. Those interested in attending should contact Carmen Shipley at Carmen.E.Shipley@illinois.gov or 217-782-9386 at least 10 days in advance.
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Editor: Richard De Angelis, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999
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