|December 17, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 26|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
As of Dec. 12, OSHA's education and training efforts have reached over 60,000 workers engaged in recovery efforts in communities affected by superstorm Sandy. More than 7,000 workers have been removed from safety and health hazards because of these efforts.
One potential health hazard to workers in the recovery is mold. Remediation of mold-contaminated building materials and surfaces may cause workers to become sickened or injured if employers don’t know the hazards of mold; develop an effective mediation plan; use effective controls, work practices and personal protective equipment; or train employees to recognize and protect themselves against mold. To help provide information on mold hazards, OSHA has released a new Mold Hazards during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Fact Sheet. Additional guidance, fact sheets (including a Personal Protective Equipment Matrix that shows what equipment is necessary to keep workers safe) and other information can be found on OSHA's Hurricane Sandy web page.
OSHA will extend for three months its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction. The temporary enforcement measures, extended through March 15, 2013, include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency, and increased outreach. Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction.
OSHA has been working closely with the industry to assist employers in complying with the new directive. From Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, OSHA's On-site Consultation Projects performed more than 3,000 on-site visits, conducted close to 1,100 training sessions and delivered close to 500 presentations related to fall protection in residential construction. OSHA's regional and area offices also conducted more than 1,200 outreach activities on the directive. The agency will continue to work with employers to ensure a clear understanding of, and to facilitate compliance with, the new policy. OSHA will continue to develop materials to assist the industry, including a wide variety of educational and training materials to assist employers with compliance, which are available on the Web pages for residential construction and the Fall Prevention Campaign.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis has announced the inaugural appointees and the first meeting of the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. The purpose of the WPAC is to advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the secretary of labor and the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on ways to improve the fairness, efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s whistleblower protection programs. The 12 voting and three ad-hoc members of the WPAC were appointed by Secretary Solis. All members will serve two year terms and the committee will meet at least twice a year.
WPAC will hold its first meeting on Jan. 29, 2013, at the Labor Department’s Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C., to make recommendations regarding the development and/or implementation of better customer service to workers and employers, improvement in the investigative and enforcement process, improvement of regulations governing OSHA investigations, and recommendations for cooperative activities with federal agencies responsible for areas also covered by the whistleblower protection statutes enforced by OSHA. For a full list of the names of the committee members, read the news release.
OSHA is issuing a Request for Information to initiate the fourth phase of its Standards Improvement Project (SIP). The purpose of SIP-IV is to improve and streamline existing OSHA construction standards by removing or revising requirements that are confusing or outdated, or that duplicate, or are inconsistent with, other standards. The agency invites the public, including employers, employees, and employee representatives to submit recommendations for revisions to existing construction standards and the rationale for these recommendations.
Individuals may submit comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments must be submitted by Feb. 4, 2013.
Public voting is underway for the Department of Labor’s Worker Safety and Health Challenge. Votes may be cast until Jan. 4, and a $3,000 prize will be awarded to the entry that receives the most public support. The 21 submissions focus on topics ranging from hazardous chemicals to ergonomics to noise to construction safety, and are now available for public viewing in the contest's Submissions Gallery. This summer, the Labor Department asked the public to develop tools that demonstrate the importance of recognizing and preventing workplace safety and health hazards and help young people understand their rights in the workplace. Review the submissions and cast your vote for the tool that you think does the best job of teaching young people about workplace safety and health. Check back on Jan. 8 for the announcement of all the challenge winners.
OSHA has redesigned and updated its Spanish-language version of the agency's website to include the most up-to-date safety and health information and to inform workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities under the law. Like the English homepage, the site now includes a set of rotating images highlighting the latest news and agency activities, and prominently features workers' rights and steps to take if workers have concerns about their safety and health in the workplace. As OSHA continues to expand the number of resources available in Spanish, the site will be updated with links to those materials to provide a dynamic and timely safety and health resource for workers and employers. The site is available at http://www.osha.gov/spanish/index.html.
OSHA has cited the U.S. Postal Service Truman Station in Independence, Mo., with a willful violation for failing to protect employees working in excessive heat. OSHA initiated an inspection in July after a mail carrier developed heat-related illness symptoms, collapsed while working his route and was taken to the hospital where he died as a result of his exposure to excessive heat.
The willful violation addresses the hazard of multiple employees who were required to work during periods when excessive heat advisories and warnings were issued by the National Weather Service. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. Information and resources for workers and employers on heat illness, including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency, are available in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. For further details, read the press release.
OSHA has cited Pandrol USA LP, a rail fastening system manufacturer, with 25 safety and health violations - including three willful - at the company's Bridgeport facility. A complaint alleging hazards prompted OSHA's inspection. Proposed penalties total $283,500.
The willful violations involve the employer's failure to use energy control, or "lockout/tagout" procedures, for mechanical and hydraulic presses; provide machine guarding; and ensure that employees performing maintenance and repairs on machinery are properly trained on energy control procedures. Due to the willful violations, Pandrol has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information, read the press release.
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against DKS Structural Services, doing business as Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co., and owner Jeffrey Kennedy for allegedly terminating an employee who refused to enter a 15-foot-deep trench that did not have adequate protection to prevent cave-ins. Following a timely employee complaint and subsequent investigation, OSHA found that the company unlawfully and intentionally terminated the worker for engaging in activity protected by Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which prohibits retaliation against employees who report or refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
The department's lawsuit seeks back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee. Additionally, it requests that the employee's personnel records be expunged with respect to the matters at issue in this case, the employer be barred against future violations of the OSH Act by a permanent injunction and any other appropriate relief. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA has cited CPI-Lansing LLC, a grain storage facility in Red Cloud, with three safety violations—including two willful—for allowing workers to enter grain bins while sweep augers were operating. OSHA initiated the complaint inspection in May under the agency’s grain handling local emphasis program. Proposed penalties total $144,400.
Two willful violations address hazards associated with failing to lock out the energy sources of mechanical equipment during bin entry and to ensure workers are using a body harness and lanyard while working in grain bins and provide rescue equipment for workers entering bins. For details, see the press release. Visit OSHA’s Grain Handling Safety and Health Topics page for information on safety and health in the grain handling industry.
OSHA has established an alliance with the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association that will focus on addressing the grain and feed industry's six major danger areas, outlined in OSHA's Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck-by," combustible dust and electrocution hazards.
OSHA and the WABA will provide information and guidance to employees and employers, and develop training programs to reduce injuries and improve overall safety and health. Emphasis will be placed on using effective machine guarding as well as implementing programs for locking out the energy sources of equipment and entering confined spaces. The partners jointly will identify and develop speaker resources for local meetings and conventions, and informational materials to be disseminated at these events. Read the press release for more information.
OSHA has renewed a strategic partnership with northeast Wisconsin foundries to improve ergonomic programs and reduce the rate of musculoskeletal injuries. The foundry industry has a high rate of musculoskeletal and other ergonomic-related injuries due to tasks such as moving heavy equipment, material handling and the use of pneumatic equipment such as grinders and sanders. The partnership promotes continuous improvement to reduce injuries through education, hazard assessments, and the re-engineering of work stations and work processes whenever possible, as well as increasing safety and health training, and sharing best practices.
OSHA established the partnership in 2003 with Neenah Foundry, ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Foundry, Brillion Iron Works, Roloff Manufacturing Corp., Manitowoc Grey Iron Foundry and Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Co. In addition to the original members, participants in the renewed partnership also include the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers Locals 121B, 271 and 301; the United Steel Workers Local 125; the International Association of Machinist Locals 516 and 1947; the Mercury Marine-Division of Brunswick Corp.; the Professional Association of County Employees Local 70475; and C.A. Lawton Co.
Through its Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA works 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. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/partnerships/index.html or read the press release.
On Dec. 4, more than 1,500 oil and gas industry leaders, safety professionals, managers and workers convened in Dallas to discuss best operating practices, safeguards and worker training strategies to meet the challenges of increased production in oil and gas drilling at the 2012 Oil & Gas Safety Conference. Dr. Michaels addressed conference attendees, highlighting the success of the Service, Transmission, Exploration and Production Safety Network, whose mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions in upstream oil and gas operations. The STEPS Network has expanded to include 17 independent networks nationwide. Dr. Michaels also discussed OSHA's upstream oil and gas safety workgroup; the agency's collaborative training efforts, including a new drilling safety course developed by Red Rocks Community College; and exposure to respirable crystalline silica during hydraulic fracturing.
The Oil and Gas Well Drilling, Servicing Safety and Health Topics page is OSHA's central location for resources on oil and gas well drilling safety and health. The page provides information on standards related to the industry and outlines recommended practices and guidelines. Five new "Fatal Facts" have also recently been added; these documents describe fatal incidents in the oil patch and provide information on practices that would have prevented them. Also new to the site are the Silica Exposure during Hydraulic Fracturing Info Sheet and a Spanish translation of the OSHA-NIOSH Hazard Alert on Hydraulic Fracturing.
A report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health released Dec. 7 determined that a 2011 chlorine release at a Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Arkansas was associated with chemical labeling that a Spanish-speaking worker did not understand. The report states:
Following the gas release, OSHA cited the company for violating its Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA's revised standard aligns with the Globally Harmonized System for the Labeling and Classification of Chemicals and makes workplaces safer by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. For more information, read the full text of the report.
The Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor, a new online tool from OSHA, analyzes biological monitoring results provided by the user. These data, along with a series of answers to questions generated by the cadmium advisor, are used to determine the biological monitoring and medical surveillance requirements that must be met under the general industry cadmium standard (29 CFR 1910.1027). These requirements include the frequency of additional monitoring and other mandatory components of the employer's medical surveillance program.
Cadmium is a soft, silver-white metal used in many industries including metal machining, plastics, ceramics, painting and welding operations. Short-term exposure to cadmium can cause weakness, fever, headache, chills, sweating and muscular pain. Chronic cadmium poisoning can cause kidney damage and cancer of the lung or prostate. Cadmium also is believed to cause pulmonary emphysema and bone disease. The cadmium advisor is primarily intended for use by experienced medical professionals who assess workers' cadmium exposure. It may also be useful as an educational tool for workers and members of the general public by providing information on what constitutes overexposure to cadmium and what to do to prevent exposure on the job.
Former Secretary of Labor James Hodgson passed away in his home in Malibu, Calif. on Nov. 28, according to his family. As the 12th United States Secretary of Labor, Hodgson worked tirelessly to improve conditions at workplaces throughout the country. Secretary Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement upon his death:
"James Hodgson once said: 'I've never had any ambitions; only enthusiasms.'
"He was being modest, of course, since one of his 'enthusiasms' was worker health and safety. And as the nation's 12th secretary of labor, he leaves an extraordinary legacy in this area.
"Under his leadership, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. ‘Safety was extremely important in aircraft plants,' the former Lockheed executive once said, 'but as I went around looking at other industries, I was just appalled at the conditions I saw.' Today, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration — the agency he envisioned and built — employs more than 2,200 people and strives to keep nearly 8 million U.S. workplaces safe and healthy through setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
"During his tenure, Secretary Hodgson also led a major expansion of employment and training programs to stem the post-Vietnam War recession through the Emergency Employment Act of 1971.
"He continued his public service on an international scale and with great distinction after leaving the Labor Department, serving as U.S. ambassador to Japan during the Ford administration. Later, he wrote two books about doing business with Japan. And he shared his terrific sense of humor in a published collection of satirical haiku.
"His wife Maria and their two children are in my thoughts and prayers."
OSHA wishes you and yours happy holidays and a safe, healthy and prosperous new year. QuickTakes will not be published on Jan. 1, so please continue to visit the agency's website for news and updates. Look for your next issue of QuickTakes on Jan. 15, 2013.
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