|February 2, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 3|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
Regular readers of QuickTakes will notice several changes to our usual format and content starting with this issue. These changes reflect your feedback from a survey we conducted last fall. We asked you how we could improve QuickTakes and your feedback was insightful, constructive and valuable. We have already implemented some of your suggestions with this issue to make it:
We appreciate your feedback and it is our sincere hope that you will continue to share your thoughts on how we can make this newsletter the most useful resource for you. Please contact us at OSHA.QuickTakes@dol.gov to share your suggestions.
Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. employees have suffered more than 1,000 work-related injuries, including more than 100 amputations from woodworking machinery, over a three-and-a-half year period. One worker's loss of three fingers in July 2014 led to an OSHA inspection of the Arcadia, Wis.-based furniture manufacturer. Following the inspection, the company was cited for 12 willful, 12 repeated and 14 serious safety violations and placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for its failure to address these hazards. Proposed penalties total $1,766,000.
"Ashley Furniture has created a culture that values production and profit over worker safety, and employees are paying the price," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Safety and profits are not an ‘either, or’ proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both"
The 12 willful and 12 repeated violations were cited after OSHA found that the company did not take the necessary steps to protect its workers from being injured by moving machine parts. It did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers were performing tooling and blade changes on woodworking machinery, and also failed to provide adequate safety mechanisms to prevent contact with those moving parts. OSHA also cited Ashley Furniture Industries for 14 serious violations, including not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery. For more information, read the news release.
An apprentice ironworker fell more than 30 feet to his death while standing on a steel girder on a building under construction in Kansas City. On the job for only a few weeks, the 22-year-old was not provided fall protection by his employer, Fastract Erectors Inc., a subcontractor on the project. OSHA investigated the fatality and cited the company with seven willful and three serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $511,000.
"This young man had his whole life ahead of him. His dreams of marriage, children and exploring the great outdoors were cut short because his employer failed to provide fall protection, a violation of its own safety manual and OSHA rules," said Marcia Drumm, OSHA's regional administrator. "This tragedy illustrates how quickly a worker can die when fall protection is not provided, and why it's so important."
The inspection found that Fastrack Erectors violated its own safety manual and signed a contract with the general contractor that subcontractor personnel who worked at heights greater than six 6 feet be provided with adequate fall protection. Violations include failing to provide fall protection, allowing workers to climb the scissor lift guardrails and the rails leading to an aerial lift basket and using makeshift devices on scaffold platforms to increase working height. For more information, read the news release.
A 25-year-old temporary worker was killed and another critically injured when a storage tank inside the plant where they worked exploded. The workers were hired to cut and weld pipes at the Omega Protein plant in Moss Point, Miss. They were unaware and had not been trained to know that the storage tank beneath them contained explosive methane and hydrogen sulfide gases. OSHA investigated the incident and found four companies – Accu-Fab & Construction Inc., Omega Protein, JP Williams Machine & Fabrication and Global Employment – violated safety regulations that could have prevented the tragedy. Proposed penalties for the four companies total $187,620.
"The Omega Protein plant explosion shines a spotlight on how critical it is for employers to verify, isolate and remove fire and explosion hazards in employee work areas," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "If the employer ensured a safe environment, this tragic incident could have been prevented."
OSHA issued several willful, repeat and serious citations to the four companies for violations including exposing workers to fire and explosion hazards, failing to train workers on chemical hazards in the work area, ensure use of personal protective equipment for employees working at heights of up to 29 feet and allowing workers to weld and cut piping on an improperly prepared storage tank containing explosive gases. For more information, read the news release.
A maintenance worker at WKW Erbsloeh North America Inc. in Pell City, Ala., suffered severe burns to his face and internal organs after he slipped and fell into a tank of corrosive phosphoric and sulfuric acid. An OSHA investigation found that the company knew of the hazards that injured the worker and did nothing to prevent it from happening. WKW was issued eight willful, repeat and serious violations and proposed penalties of $177,500.
"Allowing a worker to be injured by a hazard that was known by all is terrible. This worker was doing the right thing, but management was not," said Ramona Morris, director of OSHA's Birmingham Area Office. "Employers have the responsibility to protect employees from injuries and illnesses."
The company was cited for exposing workers to falls from walkways without railings, failing to ensure that machinery would not start up while workers performed machine maintenance and training on preventing accidental startup, failing to train workers on the hazards of confined spaces and not monitoring air quality inside chemical tanks that workers entered. The employer has been inspected by OSHA eight times since 2009 and has received citations related to unguarded machinery, confined spaces, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA has cited New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center after an investigation found workers were exposed to laundry contaminated with blood, bodily fluids and other infectious materials. The Manhattan hospital replaced linen laundry bags with thin plastic bags that broke, exposing workers to health hazards. OSHA cited the hospital with 13 willful, serious and health standard violations and proposed $201,000 in fines.
"Management knew that these bags were deficient yet continued using them, even though they posed a potential health hazard for employees. This must change," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director in Manhattan. "It's also disturbing that our inspection identified other instances of insufficient protection against bloodborne hazards."
OSHA conducted the investigation in response to a complaint and identified several violations of the agency's bloodborne pathogen standard and found that the hospital failed to screen incoming patients for an increased risk of tuberculosis. Additionally, the medical center failed to provide all exposed workers with protective gloves and outer garments, hand-washing facilities, a cleaning or decontamination schedule, and bloodborne hazard training appropriate to workers' education, literacy and language level. For more information, read the news release.
As of Jan. 1, 2015, employers covered by federal OSHA are now required to report work-related fatalities within 8 hours and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.
Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident. The updated reporting requirements have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.
Employers can report these incidents by calling their nearest area office during normal business hours, or the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742). For more information and resources, visit OSHA's Web page on the updated reporting requirements. Soon employers will also be able to report fatalities, injuries and illneses online.
*Employers under federal OSHA's jurisdiction were required to begin reporting by January 1, 2015. Establishments in a state with a state-run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.
OSHA is reminding covered employers to post OSHA's Form 300A, which summarizes the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2014 and were logged on OSHA's Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses. The summary must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30, 2015, 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 the Updates to OSHA's Recordkeeping Rule Web page for more information on recordkeeping requirements.
OSHA today entered into an alliance with Fertilizer Safety and Health Partners and the Environmental Protection Agency to provide safety and health information and training resources to workers, emergency responders and communities surrounding establishments in the agricultural retail and supply industry. The alliance will focus on the safe storage and handling of fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.
"Incidents such as the horrific explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, that killed 15 people including emergency response personnel, highlight the hazards in storing and handling ammonium nitrate," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "These tragedies are preventable and we need to work together to address hazards, prevent injuries and save lives."
The alliance emphasizes sharing emergency response information among agricultural business establishments, first responders and surrounding communities; as well as improving the safety and security of chemical facilities, reducing the risks of hazardous chemicals to workers and communities, educating workers on their rights and ensuring that employers understand their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The 2015 Safety Fest of the Great Northwest celebrates ten years of offering free occupational safety and health training. Safety Fest is an annual training event that offers free safety and health training to workers, supervisors, and managers of all levels.
This year's event will be in Boise, Idaho from January 20-23. A vendor show will be held on January 20 and 21 and almost 60 classes will be offered this year. On Jan. 20, participants will join OSHA representatives for an informal luncheon to ask questions regarding worker protection and OSHA safety services.
A number of certification classes will be available during the four-day event, including multiple First Aid/CPR classes. All sessions of the event are free. For more information, visit the 2015 Safety Fest website.
OSHA has released two new bilingual –English and Spanish—on-the-job quick references for employers and employees. Tree Care Work: Know the Hazards addresses the most common tree care work hazards and ways in which employers can prevent them.
The Temporary Worker pocket-sized pamphlet reminds individuals working through a staffing agency that they have the same rights as any other worker. The pamphlet is part of OSHA's Temporary Worker Initiative, which focuses on compliance with safety and health requirements when temporary workers are employed under the joint employment of a staffing agency and a host employer.
These bilingual resources are easy-to-read, durable in design and ideal for health and safety trainings, consultations, and inspections. To order quantities of these or any other OSHA materials, visit OSHA's Publications Web page or call the Publications Office at (202) 693-1888.
As the temperatures drop and winter storms head in, employers can take measure to keep workers safe. OSHA's Winter Weather Web page provides information on protecting workers from hazards they may face while working outside during the winter, particularly in severe cold weather.
The Web page provides guidance on how to recognize snow storm-related hazards and the necessary steps that employers must take to keep workers safe while working in these conditions. This guidance includes how to protect workers from hazards associated with clearing heavy snow in front of workplaces and from rooftops.
And remember, we want to hear from you as well. Tweet @USDOL with your questions about OSHA and worker safety and health, using the hashtag #AskOSHA, and we’ll try to respond to one question in each issue of QuickTakes.
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