|February 1, 2010 · Volume 9, Issue 3|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In This Issue
On Monday, Feb. 1, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis will hold a live Web chat to discuss the U.S. Department of Labor's 2011 budget. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels will join Secretary Solis in the live Web chat from 1-3 p.m. (EST) and encourages interested parties to participate in the discussions. Secretary Solis will provide an overview of the Department's efforts to provide "Good Jobs for Everyone." Assistant Secretary Michaels will be available to answer specific questions concerning OSHA's 2011 budget. To view: www.dol.gov/budget.
OSHA proposed $233,500 in fines against Home Goods for exit access, fire and crushing hazards at its Commack, N.Y., store. Responding to an employee complaint, OSHA found exit routes that were too narrow for passage, blocked by stock and equipment, or hidden by stacks of material. Other hazards included blocked access to fire extinguishers, workers not trained in fire extinguisher use, and boxes stored in unstable 8-foot high tiers. OSHA had cited Home Goods in 2006 and 2007 for similar conditions at the company's Mount Olive, N.J., and Somers, N.Y., locations. "It's been 99 years since the fire at The Triangle Shirtwaist Co. in New York City took the lives of nearly 150 workers and almost 19 years since two workers were killed when they were unable to exit the McCrory's store in Huntington Station, N.Y., during a fire," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "Blocked fire exits can be deadly. It is that simple." For more information, read the news release.
In an effort to reduce injuries and illnesses among Latino workers, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will kick off the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety April 14-15, 2010, in Houston. The event will also feature Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels and Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The summit will include workers and representatives from employer associations, labor unions, faith community, consulates and non-traditional partners and is sponsored by OSHA and NIOSH and in partnership with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The Secretary's goal is to reduce injuries and illnesses among Latino workers by enhancing knowledge of their workplace rights and improving their ability to exercise those rights.
The "OSHA Listens" public meeting will be Feb. 10 in Washington and also broadcast via the World Wide Web. Assistant Secretary David Michaels is holding the meeting to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. "Public involvement in the government's activities is a priority for this Administration and is important to OSHA efforts to protect the safety and health of workers," said Michaels. For more information on the meeting, see the news release. Visit OSHA's Web site in the next week for details on the Webcast.
OSHA's data on employer specific injury and illness incidence rates is now publicly available on Data.gov and its Web site. OSHA collects work-related injury and illness data from more than 80,000 employers within specific industries and of a certain employment size. The agency uses this data for its strategic management plan and as a targeting mechanism for its Site-Specific Targeting enforcement program. Data is now searchable from 1996 to 2007 and can be used by interested individuals or groups to look at establishment-specific injury and illness data. The information includes the establishment name, address, industry, and associated total case rate; days away, restricted and transfer case rate; and days away from work case rate. Suspect or unreliable data is not included in this database.
OSHA has scheduled two informal stakeholder meetings Feb. 17, at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at the Marriott Perimeter Center in Atlanta to solicit comments and suggestions on combustible dust hazards in the workplace. According to David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, the agency will use comments from these meetings in developing a proposed standard for combustible dust. Since 1980, more than 130 workers have been killed and more than 780 injured in combustible dust explosions. A Feb. 7, 2008, explosion at an Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Port Wentworth, Ga., killed 14 people and resulted in OSHA issuing nearly $8.8 million in penalties. OSHA is holding the meeting in Atlanta to make it easy for victims' families and others with relevant information about this deadly incident to attend. "Information gathered from these meetings will help OSHA move ahead on this urgently needed standard and prevent more deaths from combustible dust explosions," said Michaels. See the Jan. 25 Federal Register notice for details.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics' data, 167 retail trade workers were killed in 2007. Nearly half of these were employed in late-night establishments such as gasoline stations, liquor and convenience stores. OSHA recently updated its guidance document Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments that addresses issues causing late-night retail workers to be killed on the job. Of these worker deaths, 39 killed were employed at convenience stores, 32 worked at gasoline stations and 7 worked at liquor stores. "The number of retail workers who died as a result of workplace violence has declined over the past 10 years - from 286 in 1998 to 167 in 2007. This decline is encouraging, but not good enough," said Assistant Secretary Michaels. "Workers should not go to work fearing they won't live through the day." The violence prevention information presented in this document builds on OSHA's Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments, published in 1998. The updated Recommendations identify risk factors and describe feasible solutions. Copies can be ordered online from OSHA's publications page.
OSHA expanded its online earthquake and structural collapse information for rescue workers and emergency responders. The agency provides the information to help minimize the risk of injury and death for workers assisting in the areas of earthquakes and structural collapse. The Emergency Preparedness and Response Safety and Health Topics Web page includes information from OSHA, NIOSH, CDC, FEMA and NIEHS.
Approximately 80 workers die from electric shock and other related hazards each year while working in jobs related to transmission and distribution of electric power. To address that issue, OSHA recently published an eTool to help workers and employers be in compliance with 29 CFR Part 1910.269, the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Standard.
OSHA is reminding workers that they are entitled to a safe and healthful workplace. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for protecting their workers on the job. OSHA's It's the Law - Job Safety and Health poster (English/Spanish) outlines worker and employer rights and responsibilities. For example, workers have the right to notify their employers or OSHA about workplace hazards and to request an OSHA inspection. Employers must provide workers a workplace free from recognized hazards and comply with the occupational safety and health standards issued under the OSH Act.
Are you interested in a career with DOL? The department has job opportunities throughout the country, such as openings in OSHA for a program analyst and a lead occupational safety and health specialist in OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs.
See DOL's electronic newsletter for more Department of Labor news.
Alert: Due to routine maintenance on the OSHA website, some pages may be temporarily unavailable.
To report an emergency, file a complaint with OSHA or ask a safety and health question, call 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).