Improving the health and safety of Hispanic workers in Nebraska is the goal of the OSHA Region VII Omaha, Nebraska Area Office and Consulate of Mexico in Omaha, Nebraska Alliance signed on January 13, 2006. The Alliance focuses on providing information, guidance, and access to training resources in an effort to help Mexican citizens working in Nebraska protect their working conditions and labor rights, including their health and safety with particular emphasis in the construction, meat packing, and migrant farming industries. The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court, Nebraska Workforce Development - Safety and Labor Law, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division are also signatories of the Alliance agreement. "This Alliance is the first in the Midwest with the Mexican Consulate," said Charles E. Adkins, Regional Administrator, OSHA Region VII, Kansas City, Missouri.
Through the Alliance, OSHA and the Consulate of Mexico in Omaha are working to protect the health and safety of Hispanic workers through a number of activities, including developing and delivering training programs, speaking and exhibiting at conferences and meetings, sharing best practices and approaches, and distributing Spanish-language workplace safety and health outreach materials. For example, the Alliance sponsored three train-the-trainer sessions training a total of 15 Hispanic community leaders. Representatives from the Alliance delivered presentations about services their organizations offer to Hispanic workers, distributed copies of their organizations Spanish-language safety and health materials, and answered questions. The sessions also included discussions about the workplace issues facing Mexicans and other immigrants in Nebraska.
The Alliance also sponsored outreach events during Bi-National Health Week in 2006 and 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska. Bi-National Health Week, which is observed in approximately 25 states, is the result of an agreement between Mexico and the U.S. to provide health-related training to Hispanics living and working in the U.S. As part of the program, a representative from the Omaha Area Office delivered in Spanish an "All About OSHA" presentations with special emphasis on employee workplace safety and health rights. The Omaha Area Office also staffed exhibit booths, distributed copies of the Agency's Spanish-language safety and health materials, and answered questions from many of the approximately 500 people who attended each year's event.
Through the Alliance, the Omaha Area Office regularly provides the Mexican Consulate with copies of the Agency's Spanish-language safety and health materials for display in the Consulate's waiting area and for distribution at the Consulates "Mobile Consulate" outreach activities throughout the state. The Omaha Area Office also provided the Mexican Consulate with a DVD containing OSHA's public service announcements (PSAs) in Spanish to be played periodically in the Consulate's waiting area. The PSAs provide information about employee workplace safety and health rights and promote the OSHA Web site and the Agency's national hotline with a Spanish-language option. Lastly, the Omaha Area Office provides Hispanic community leaders and advocates with a monthly e-mail update which includes English as a second language-related information, including regulatory updates, worker fatality data, and training and outreach opportunities.
"The Alliance is a unique opportunity for our staff to work with the Mexican Consulate to educate, train, and inform Hispanic workers about OSHA programs and their worker rights" said Ben Bare, Director, OSHA Region VII, Omaha, Nebraska Area Office. "Hopefully, our combined effort will help reduce the high number of injuries and illnesses seen in the Hispanic workforce."
The OSHA Region VII and Consulate of Mexico in Omaha, Nebraska Alliance was renewed on October 23, 2008.
For more information on this Alliance, contact Doug Fletcher.
-- As of December 2008.
Signed on March 2, 2005, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Region VII Omaha, Nebraska Area Office and Omaha Public Schools Career Center (OPS-CC) Alliance works to educate the center's 500 students about the importance of safety and health in the workplace. The Alliance particularly focuses on offering the 30-35 students in the OPS-CC Construction Academy, which is a 2-year program for juniors and seniors, access to multiple safety training resources in the construction industry. The Academy also encourages students to stay in school and work to improve their performance in their selected areas of interest and helps them adapt their education to deal with the situations the students will encounter when they enter the workforce.
Through the Alliance, Omaha Area Office representatives Doug Fletcher, Compliance Assistance Specialist, Phil Pisasale, Compliance Safety and Health Officer and Darwin Craig, Assistant Area Director and safety directors from the area's construction industry provided the agency's 10-hour OSHA Construction Outreach Training Program to Construction Academy juniors. The training was divided into five 2-hour segments that covered a number of topics, including cranes and hoists, tools, electrical, stairways and ladders, scaffolds, fall protection, excavation, and personal protective equipment.
All of the students who took the training were given OSHA 10-hour student completion cards at an awards ceremony attended by construction industry representatives, OPS administrators, OSHA staff and the media. During the ceremony, which was coordinated by OSHA staff, several of the recipients made brief remarks expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to attend the Construction Academy and take the training course. According to Bill Bare, Area Director, Omaha Area Office the training prepared the students for employment during the summer between their junior and senior years at the Academy as well as for a career in construction following graduation. He stated, "The future of workplace safety and health lies with the young workers who will be entering the workforce. Our Alliance with the Omaha Public Schools Career Center has been a tremendous success and we look forward to what the future of this program holds."
In addition, Alliance members are working with the Midwest OSHA Education Centers (MOEC), which partnered with the Greater Omaha Chapter of the National Safety Council, to offer the OSHA Course 500, Trainer Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry to OPS staff and interested area instructors. Also, the Alliance is providing general workplace information to OPS-CC students. For example, OSHA staff taught two of the center's classes for grades 9–12 and provided information on employee rights, such as the right to a safe workplace, and gave an overview of OSHA and specific safety- and health-related subjects.
As a result of the relationships that were established through the Alliance, OSHA representatives provided Andrew Naikelis, coordinator, OPS-CC with the names of construction companies with Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) approved worksites that they thought might offer summer internships to the Construction Academy students who had been awarded the 10-hour card. In response to these contacts, 12 students were offered internship positions in the areas of computer-assisted design (CAD), dry walling and carpentry. According to Mr. Naikelis, "This Alliance has added credibility to the training we provide at the Academy. The students who participated in our summer internship program reported that their contractor/bosses appreciate that they (the students) have had OSHA training, and the students realize the benefit of having the training before they go to work. Having representatives from local contractors working with the students helps to improve community involvement with the school system. In my opinion, this is something that should be done with all school systems across the country."
To help assess the direction and activities of the Alliance, Phil Pisasale was invited to join the Career Center Advisory Board. As a board member he attends the Board's quarterly meetings and meets regularly with Andrew Naikelis. Together, Andrew, Phil and Doug will be scheduling the training for the upcoming year. In addition, OPS-CC has asked the Alliance to present the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program to all of the OPS industrial science personnel in the middle and high schools.
-- As of December 2006.
On May 18, 2004, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Region VII Omaha, Nebraska Area Office signed the Landscape Industry Alliance1 with lawn care and landscaping-related and government organizations in Nebraska. The Alliance's organizations are working together to provide training to address industry hazards, such as noise, chemicals, machine guarding, ergonomics, and weather-related hazards, for youth and Spanish-speaking workers. In addition, the OSHA and Landscape Industry Alliance is sharing information and providing speakers for forums, round table discussions and stakeholder meetings.
Through the Alliance's implementation team meetings, OSHA updated the agreement's signatories about the agency's outreach and enforcement activities. In addition, the Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association (NGCSA) invited OSHA to attend its December 2004 board meeting. As a result, Brad Wood, an Industrial Hygienist in the Omaha Area Office, gave a presentation to the meeting's attendees on recordkeeping, hazard communication and how to train Hispanic workers. During the presentation, George Ramirez of United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Wage & Hour Division also discussed youth labor laws and overtime issues. Mr. Wood also participated in roundtable discussions during the Sports Turf Managers Association's (STMA) December 2004 and December 2005 chapter meetings in Grand Island and Hastings, Nebraska.
The Alliance signatories are also sharing information and with other landscape-related organizations in the state. For example, the Nebraska Turfgrass Association (NTA) invited representatives from the Omaha Area Office, Nebraska Professional Lawn Care Association (NPLCA), NGCSA, and STMA to give presentations and exhibit during its annual Turfgrass Conferences in 2005 and 2006. (NTA is a non-profit trade association that represents the turf industry in Nebraska.)
During the conferences, the OSHA and Landscape Industry Alliance shared information on best practices and effective approaches to specific issues and projects regarding lawn care and landscaping industry hazards, such as noise, chemicals, machine guarding, ergonomics, weather-related hazards, and the use of personal protective equipment. From its exhibit booth, OSHA personnel distributed outreach materials to industry safety and health professionals. At the 2006 event, Mr. Wood and Phil Pisasale, another Industrial Hygienist in the Omaha Area Office, also presented "Safety on the Turf" to the general session of over 300 attendees and participated in a lengthy question session that followed.
Said Tom Baker, Omaha Field Club Course Superintendent, "The OSHA presentation and question period at the Turfgrass Conference was certainly useful to our employees. People throughout the landscape industry were able to address specific concerns." According to Mick Reifert, Vice President NGCSA, "Brad Wood and Phil Pisasale were able to portray their Agency in a positive way and professional manner during our contacts with them. The other federal and state organizations were also very responsive in meeting our requests for information."
The Alliance's participants are also sharing information through a number of industry-related publications. NGCSA sends out a monthly electronic newsletter that includes information on OSHA regulatory issues and applicable safety guidelines. NPLCA and STMA have newsletters that include OSHA compliance assistance and outreach information. In addition, OSHA is sending the NGCSA, NPLCA and STMA stakeholders emails about news, updates or alerts from the agency's National, Regional and Area Offices.
Signatories of the Alliance estimate that through their speaking opportunities and distribution of outreach materials and publications, they have been able to reach more than 12,000 employers and employees in Nebraska's lawn care and landscaping industry. In addition, the OSHA and Landscape Industry Alliance is continuing to grow and the Nebraska Nursery and Landscapers are discussing becoming a signatory to Alliance agreement in the upcoming year. Members of the Alliance are also working to make additional new contacts and increase their distribution of outreach materials.
For additional information about this Alliance, contact Phil Pisasale in the Region VII Omaha Area Office.
-- As of May 2006.
Since the success story about this Alliance was posted on the OSHA Web site in June 2005, this Alliance was renewed twice (in 2006 and 2007), and its Cave Radiation Management Strategy was adopted by the National Caves Association (NCA) as a requirement for new or continued membership in the Association. The strategy requires each member cave to prepare a Cave Radiation Management Plan, be monitored by NCA at least once for radon, estimate the exposure of employees to radon, submit a detailed plan for training employees and managers about radiation hazards to the Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL), and adopt best management practices appropriate to the cave and its facilities. The OUL reviews each Cave Radiation Management Plan for compliance with the strategy and, if it is in compliance, recommends the cave to the President of the NCA for certification. The initial certification period is 3 years followed by recertification every 4 years. As of August 2007, the OUL had reviewed the Plans for 27 caves and recommended 25 for certification; additional information was requested for the other two submitted plans.
In addition, in October 2006 Tom Aley, President of the OUL, provided training on the cave radiation issue for 100 attendees at the Annual National Caves Association Convention.
-- As of February 2008
On August 20, 2003, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Region VII and the Ozark Underground Laboratory (OUL) signed an Alliance to evaluate the exposures of radon hazards while protecting the fragile environments of caves, especially show caves visited by the public, and develop Best Management Practices (BMP) and Regulatory Guidance to minimize exposures in the show cave industry. Through the Alliance, OSHA and OUL are developing and providing on-site training on air-sampling strategies at OUL's test cave--Tumbling Creek Cave in Southwest Missouri--and developing a training and education program to assess radon exposure to all full-time and seasonal show cave employees and tourists.
The OSHA/OUL Alliance was formed in response to a complaint from an employee alleging that the caves' tour guides were exposed to excessive levels of radon. According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 20,000 Americans die each year of radon-related lung cancer; radon is now considered a significant health hazard. In September and December 2001, OSHA had monitored Tumbling Creek Caves and its workers to discover whether or not any seasonal variations existed and learned that they do. After conferring with its Salt Lake Technical Center, OSHA realized that a valid means of evaluating the significance of these two sampling periods, either independently or together, did not exist. Overexposure to radon could not be determined.
To further meet the goals of the Alliance, on November 29, 2004, representatives from OSHA's Region VII area office in Kansas City, Missouri, met with representatives from OUL and the National Caves Association (NCA). OSHA was represented by Kim Castillon, Assistant Area Director; Mark Branden, Compliance Assistance Specialist; and Steve Carmichael, Assistant Regional Administrator. OUL was represented by its owner, Tom Aley, who has studied radon in caves for 25 years. NCA was represented by its president, John Sagendorf. Together, they discussed the status and direction of the OUL/OSHA Alliance and toured Tumbling Creek Cave. OUL is a member of the NCA. At the meeting, OSHA representatives focused their comments on the development of this Alliance, the workings of other Alliances, and the benefits of existing Alliances with other industries and associations.
Tom Aley of OUL reviewed the monitoring and general findings to date, which included the following data points:
Through the Alliance, OSHA and OUL have developed several BMPs for show caves based upon mean radon concentrations, which vary widely; natural convective airflow patterns, which can result in relatively low radon concentrations or have the opposite effect; and operation times, which can vary from a few months to year-round. Because of the highly variable conditions at show caves, the partners in this Alliance decided that the objectives of the BMPs could best be met by cave-specific approaches. OUL is planning on monitoring at least 10 more caves as it continues to work on a draft Cave Management Plan for OSHA approval.
Also at the November 2004 meeting, John Sagendorf discussed the NCA and its commitment to reducing radon exposure at NCA show caves. He suggested that as soon as a Cave Management Plan outline is approved, the caves involved immediately begin development of a specific Management Plan for approval by OUL. Mr. Sagendorf also stressed that while current NCA membership requires participation in and contribution to funding the radon study, a future NCA membership requirement will be the development, implementation and regular reporting and updating of a cave-specific Cave Management Plan to reduce radon exposure to all employees and visitors.
In a recent article in Cave Talk, the publication of th NCA, John Sagendorff summarized the progress the the OSHA/OUL Alliance as follows, "OSHA's support and enthusiasm for our Alliance Agreement are so solid that Kim Castillon, CIH, CSP, OSHA's Assistant Area Director, Kansas City Area Office, has received approval to present a paper entitled Alpha Radiation Exposures in Show Caves--Do Old Occupational Safety and Health Models Fit New Challenges? at the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health, September 18–22, 2005, in Orlando, Florida. It is the enthusiasm of OSHA, the superb reputation of the work and study results done by OUL and the support of the NCA that allow this worldwide presentation to take place."
Kim Castillon responded by saying, "I am very excited about this Alliance and strongly feel like it is the best one in the country right now…It is my greatest pleasure to provide guidance and assistance from a regulatory agency and at the same time support the importance of preserving our natural resources…I am happy to represent a regulatory agency where we can use an alternative approach to reach a population and industry by methods other than enforcement. After all, our goal is to keep workers safe which should be proactive and not reactive."
For additional information about this Alliance and it activities, please contact Jacalyn Wheeler, OSHA Region VII.
-- As of June 2005; updated February 2008.
Since the success story about this Alliance was posted on OSHA's Web site in March 2005, OSHA, the IRS, NDR and NE/OSHA Consultation have engaged in a number of additional outreach and education activities as a result of the agreement. The Alliance has disseminated OSHA safety and health resources at expositions in Nebraska. For example, Alliance representatives distributed information at the Nebraska Safety Council Exposition April 12-13, 2005 in Lincoln, Nebraska. In June 2005, the Alliance held a tax and safety symposium that provided small business employers with information about compliance with OSHA, IRS and NDR regulations along with information about OSHA's Onsite Consultation Program.
Because of the Alliance's successful outreach efforts, it was renewed January 12, 2006. According to Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA Regional Administrator in Kansas City, Missouri, "This Alliance has gained national recognition for its unique approach to compliance assistance and outreach through the combined efforts of federal and state agencies. It provides one-stop shopping for employers by making safety, health, and tax obligation information all available in one location.".
-- As of July 2006
Providing businesses with information, guidance and access to training resources to help them protect employees' health and safety is the focus of an Alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Region VII Omaha Area Office, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), State of Nebraska Department of Revenue (NDR) and Nebraska's Workforce Development's – OSHA Consultation Program (NE/OSHA Consultation). The Alliance was signed on October 16, 2003.
Through the Alliance agreement, the organizations are developing and sharing information and guidance to help reduce and prevent safety and health hazards that impact the small business community and address Nebraska's rising number of fatalities. In addition, the organizations are working to provide voluntary compliance assistance to help small businesses understand federal and state tax regulations.
"Approximately 84 percent of all fatality inspections conducted in Nebraska between Oct. 2000 and May 2003 were in small businesses," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA Regional VII Administrator in Kansas City. "The Alliance has taken a unique approach to collaboration on behalf of small business by involving both federal and state agencies," Adkins said. "This combined effort is the first such Alliance nationwide with an IRS office and the only joint effort, to date, with a State Department of Revenue."
In addition, Adkins emphasized that by bringing together a number of government agencies, the Alliance members hope they are more effective in reaching their customers, many of whom are small businesses.
In 2004, a number of Alliance-sponsored seminars were held for the employees of the participating organizations and small businesses in the Omaha area. On May 3, representatives from OSHA, IRS, NDR and NE/OSHA Consultation took part in a cross training session to help educate and provide the Alliance signatories with information about the missions and goals of the participants. Also, during IRS Tax Symposiums on August 10 and 17 a representative from the Omaha Area Office spoke to employers about the Agency and the general requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The speaker also provided the seminars' attendees with up-to-date information from the Agency's National Office in Washington, D.C.
The Alliance participants were also very busy meeting the outreach and communication goals of the agreement during 2004. OSHA, IRS, NDR and NE/OSHA Consultation distributed safety and health information and tax information to employers throughout Nebraska using a variety of venues including the Nebraska Safety Council Exposition in April, the National Safety Council's Greater Omaha Chapter Exposition in May and through the Chambers of Commerce in a number of cities across Nebraska.
In addition, the Alliance participants used email and mailings to share information with Nebraska's employers. The IRS sent an email to over 74,000 employers and employees with OSHA's website and compliance assistance materials. Through a combined effort more than 4,700 packets of the Alliance organizations' information were also mailed to small businesses. The NDR included OSHA's pamphlet, "Safety and Health Adds Value" pamphlet in its tax withholding package that was distributed to every employer in Nebraska.
According to OSHA's Omaha Area Office, the IRS has been so impressed with the results from this Alliance they are considering signing Alliances in Wisconsin and Kansas that are modeled after this Alliance.
For additional information about this Alliance and it activities, please contact Jacalyn Wheeler, OSHA Region VII.
-- As of March 2005; updated July 2006.
Addressing overhead powerline hazards in the telecommunication and cable television installation industries is the focus of an Alliance agreement between OSHA's Region VII, Kansas City Regional and Area Offices and the Kansas City Power and Light Company (KCP&L), Kansas City, Missouri. Through the Alliance signed on July 8, 2003, OSHA and KCP&L have combined resources, including sharing expertise, technical knowledge and best practices with telecommunication and cable television line installation contractors. This collaborative effort has led to a significant reduction in the number of reportable accidents experienced by KCP&L employees and independent contract employees.
Prior to signing the agreement, OSHA and KCP&L worked together to hold an informational demonstration session for the OSHA staff from the Kansas City and Wichita Area Offices. The event was held on February 11, 2003, at KCP&L's training site, known as Sub One. Topics covered during the session included how to identify overhead power lines from other types of lines attached to utility poles and potential hazards that can occur when lines are not strung properly. The organization also demonstrated in a controlled setting, what can happen when something comes in contact with energized power lines. In addition, KCP&L employees illustrated how detrimental work habits endangered the cable television installers and KCP&L's employees.
KCP&L and OSHA also produced and distributed informational packets to cable television installation companies. The packets contain materials on safety and health programs in English and Spanish, cable television line installation hazards, the safety requirements for attaching cabling to utility poles, and OSHA information including contacts for the Kansas and Missouri State Consultation Services. KCP&L is planning to mail these packets to tree trimmers in the metropolitan Kansas City area. In addition, packets are given to cable installers who ask KCP&L for permits to attach their lines onto the company's poles. Further, the Alliance developed and assembled an employee packet for distribution to employees in the field.
Since the information packets were first distributed in April, 2004, KCP&L has determined that the number of reportable accidents for contract employees has been reduced to zero. In addition, KCP&L has observed that cable television installers are more responsive to their staff's guidance and have instituted safe work practices. Through distributing the outreach materials to multi-state employers, the Alliance is also having an impact on workplace safety and health outside of the metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri area.
KCP&L staff are helping to make others aware of the positive impact of the Alliance and OSHA's compliance assistance resources through outreach to others involved in the utility industry. On May 25, 2004, Keith Kensinger, KCP&L Distribution Safety Manager and Dale Myers, Superintendent Contracted Services gave a presentation in Jefferson City, Missouri to the Missouri Public Service Commission. Approximately 40-50 electrical utilities were represented at the meeting.
Bill Herdegen, Vice President, Distribution Operations at KCP&L said "the KCP&L Alliance agreement with OSHA has been very beneficial to raise safety awareness within the local telecommunications industry. We look forward to continuing our relationship with OSHA to proactively educate the public on safety issues associated with electric utility facilities."
For additional information about this Alliance and it activities, please contact Jacalyn Wheeler, OSHA Region VII.
-- As of March 2005.
Since signing their Alliance on November 4, 2002, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Region VII and the Mexican-American Commission (MAC) of Nebraska are continuing to work together to reduce and prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Through the Alliance, OSHA's Region VII and MAC are sharing best practices and technical knowledge through the dissemination of OSHA information to Hispanic workers throughout Nebraska.
OSHA's Region VII is also benefiting from networking opportunities with MAC. For example, MAC has set up an e-mail distribution list to help OSHA's Region VII staff share information with the Hispanic community on upcoming training opportunities. Information provided by OSHA's Omaha Area Office about an OSHA-sponsored construction training seminar in North Platte, NE was recently featured on the MAC e-mail distribution list. The seminar covered fall protection, electrical hazards and OSHA targeted inspections. More than 20 people attended this session on November 18, 2003.
In addition, OSHA's Omaha Area Office Compliance Safety and Health Officer Elizabeth Morales made a presentation in Spanish on OSHA's regulatory requirements to about 20 participants at the Juan Diego Center in Omaha, NE, a non-profit training group for Hispanic small business persons. Region VII anticipates more opportunities for presentations such as this in 2004.
Reducing construction industry hazards is a special emphasis area identified in OSHA's 2003-2008 Strategic Management Plan (SMP). It is hoped that these OSHA/MAC Alliance activities will help raise awareness of construction industry hazards as identified in the OSHA SMP and lead to reductions in injuries and fatalities in the workplace.
-- As of November 2003.
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