|January 15, 2016 · Volume 15, Issue 2|
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program provided free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to 27,871 small and medium-sized businesses across the country in 2015. The program recognizes that while most employers want to keep their workers safe and healthy on the job, smaller businesses often lack the resource of an on-site safety professional to find and fix hazards. Last year, 87 percent of consultations were conducted at businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. Priority is given to high-hazard worksites in industries such as manufacturing and construction. In 2015, consultants identified and helped employers eliminate more than 140,000 total hazards, protecting an estimated 3.5 million workers from possible injury, illness or death.
On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Visit OSHA's website to find the local On-site Consultation Program office in your state or territory.
OSHA is reminding covered employers to post OSHA's Form 300A which summarizes the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2015. The summary must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2016, and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in specific low-hazard industries are normally exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping and posting requirements. Due to changes in OSHA's recordkeeping requirements that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015, certain previously exempt industries are now covered. Lists of both exempt and newly covered industries are available on OSHA's website. Visit OSHA's Recordkeeping Rule webpage for more information on recordkeeping requirements.
Following a complaint of unsafe conditions at a High & Dry Roofing work site in Manchester, N.H., OSHA inspectors found that employees were working at heights over 20 feet without fall protection and proper ladder safeguards. Inspectors returned two days later and found the same hazards existed. OSHA cited owner Michael Cahoon with ten violations, proposing penalties of $152,460. Violations include setting scaffolding too close to a live electrical line, failing to provide workers with fall protection, hard hats and eye protection, and failing to safeguard workers from contact with operating parts of an air compressor. Cahoon was cited in 2012 for similar violations at two other New Hampshire worksites. The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. For more information, read the news release.
The Dollar General Corp. was again found to have exposed workers to hazards, this time at a store in Sherman, Texas. OSHA cited the company for five safety violations with proposed penalties of $162,800 for failing to: keep exit routes unobstructed; keep work space clear around the electrical panel; ensure that portable fire extinguishers were mounted and accessible; and clearly mark an exit route. "Dollar General stores nationwide have repeatedly been cited for exposing their workers to hazards posed by overstocking issues, while promising time and again to take corrective action," said Josh Bernstein, OSHA's acting area director in Fort Worth. Since 2006, OSHA has received complaints from Dollar General employees in 21 states and has cited the company for 240 safety violations. Read the news brief for more information.
An employee working inside a 12-foot-deep trench was killed when an adjacent trench wall collapsed and buried him. His employer, Williamsport, Pa.-based Susquehanna Supply Company Inc., had been working under contract for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. OSHA issued citations for two willful violations for lack of cave-in protection. Proposed penalties total $140,000. Susquehanna Supply was placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program due to the willful violations and the company's extensive history of violations dating back to the early 1970s. Read the news release for more information.
Inspectors from the Washington Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued $261,000 in fines to Wall to Wall Tile & Stone of Vancouver for failing to protect workers from exposure to silica dust and other health hazards during stone slab grinding activities. The employer was cited for multiple instances of "failure to abate" serious violations after a follow-up inspection found that the employer had not corrected violations cited in November 2014. For more information, read the Washington DOSH news release.
Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.
OSHA and the Federal Aviation Administration recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding that encourages the agencies to share information about the anti-retaliation provision under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century. The act prohibits air carriers and air carrier contractors and subcontractors from firing or retaliating against airline workers who complain about violations of aviation regulations.
OSHA and FAA each play a specialized role in protecting the safety of airline workers. OSHA investigates employee complaints of retaliation by air carriers and the FAA is responsible for investigating complaints related to air carrier safety, enforcing air safety regulations and issuing sanctions to air carriers for violating these regulations. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed rule to amend existing limits for exposure to beryllium in general industry. The hearing will be held Feb. 29 in Washington, D.C.
The proposed rule for beryllium, a widely used material that can cause devastating lung disease, was published on Aug. 7, 2015. The public comment period closed Nov. 5, 2015. This hearing will provide the public additional opportunity to testify or provide evidence on issues raised by the proposal.
The hearing will begin at 2 p.m. in Room N-4437 A-D, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. If necessary, it will continue on subsequent days. Individuals who intend to present testimony or question witnesses must submit the full text of their testimony and all documentary evidence by Jan. 29, 2016. For more information, read the news release.
Last month, OSHA conducted workshops in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to share safety and health information with employers in the poultry processing industry. The workshops covered methods to protect workers from hazards such as dangerous equipment, musculoskeletal disorders, infectious pathogens, high noise levels, and hazardous chemicals.
Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick at work than other private sector workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma are among the nation’s largest chicken producing states.
OSHA offered the workshops as part of its outreach under the Regional Emphasis Program for Poultry Processing Facilities. The emphasis program includes a period for outreach and education, followed by a targeted enforcement phase under which OSHA will conduct inspections. For more information on the workshops, see the story on OSHA's website.
The Idaho Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program is offering free OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach Training, parts 1 and 2, at the annual Safety Fest of the Great Northwest. Each year, employers and workers take advantage of this opportunity to get free safety-related training and improve their safety performance. Upcoming Safety Fests in Idaho are currently scheduled to take place in the cities of Boise, Pocatello, Post Falls, Twin Falls and Lewiston between Jan. 26 and April 7. For specific dates and to register, visit OSHA's Safety Fest webpage.
OSHA recently renewed an alliance with Independent Electrical Contractors Inc., a national trade association for electrical and systems contractors. The primary focus of the five-year agreement is on providing agency staff with electrical safety and arc flash training, and preventing worker exposures to electric shock and arc flash hazards. Participants in the alliance will promote OSHA campaigns on preventing falls and heat illness and encourage a culture of safety through outreach to small businesses and workers with limited and non-English speaking skills. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA has renewed an alliance with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Partners to protect workers in roadway construction work zones from injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The renewed alliance, which will continue for five years, promotes a culture of safety in the roadway construction industry, especially among non- and limited-English speaking workers. Members collaborate to reduce workplace incidents, especially preventing worker exposures to run-over and back-over hazards, excessive noise, sprains and strains, and illnesses related to silica exposure. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA has redesigned its Worker Rights page to create a better experience for workers looking for information about their rights and what to do if they have concerns about safety and health at their workplace. The new page divides the key information into three parts: Know Your Rights, When to File a Complaint, and Contact OSHA, with links to all necessary forms and email addresses. Also posted are Frequently Asked Questions and related publications and blogs. Worker Rights is consistently ranked among the top 10 pages visited on OSHA's website.
OSHA has learned that some businesses are receiving fraudulent emails from an entity that claims to be the Department of Labor. The email advises recipients to download a “guide" to avoid being fined. The email will have the Subject: "OSHA Regulations - Avoid being fined".
While the sender may appear to be OSHA [firstname.lastname@example.org] this is not an OSHA generated email.
In the event that you receive a message fitting this description, delete the message immediately and do not click on the link(s). OSHA has alerted the appropriate authorities to the activity.
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