|March 15, 2010 · Volume 9, Issue 6|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In This Issue
OSHA hosted an "OSHA Listens" public meeting March 4 in Washington, D.C., to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. The event, reflecting President Obama's Open Government initiative on inclusiveness and transparency, was broadcast live on the Internet, where it attracted more than 5,000 viewers, and public comments were posted online. The meeting provided an opportunity for the public to communicate with its government, and it is just the beginning of OSHA's commitment to engaging the public in its decision making. "I made a commitment to listen to OSHA's stakeholders, and to present opportunities for them to engage with OSHA to provide suggestions and comments on the best ways for the agency to address major safety and health concerns in workplaces across our nation," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. A panel consisting of Michaels, Chief of Staff Debbie Berkowitz, Enforcement Director Rich Fairfax, and Standards Director Dorothy Dougherty listened to family members describing the deaths of relatives at worksites, and industry, labor, academic and professional representatives commenting on the importance of safety and health programs, compliance assistance, and updating permissible exposure limits, among other topics. All written comments, a meeting transcript, and the archived Webcast will be available online at www.osha.gov by the end of this month.
OSHA proposed more than $3 million in fines against BP North America Inc. and BP-Husky Refining LLC's refinery in Oregon, Ohio. The company was cited for exposing workers to serious hazards such as not providing adequate pressure relief for process units, failing to prevent the hazardous accumulation of fuel in process heaters, and exposing workers to potential injury and death from explosion-related building collapses of the nine buildings in the refinery. "OSHA has found that BP often ignored or severely delayed fixing known hazards in its refineries," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "There is no excuse for taking chances with people's lives. BP must fix the hazards now." BP's failure to correct potential hazards faced by workers at its Texas City, Texas, refinery resulted in a proposed penalty of more than $87 million in 2009. That fine was the largest ever proposed by OSHA, surpassing the $21 million fine levied against BP in 2005 for safety violations at the same plant that resulted in a massive explosion killing 15 people and injuring 170 others. For more information and citation summary, read the news release.
Increasing awareness about workplace safety and health among Latino workers and their families is the focus of the "We Can Help" Safety Fair April 17 in Houston. This event, sponsored by OSHA and the U.S. Wage and Hour Division, will offer worker training on identifying and avoiding construction hazards such as falls, electrocutions, caught in and struck by. The safety fair is a continuation of the OSHA National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety April 14-15 that focuses on reducing injuries and illnesses and enhancing knowledge about workplace rights. Visit the safety fair Web page for more information.
Following a whistleblower investigation, OSHA ordered e-Smart Technologies to pay a worker back wages and $600,000 in compensatory damages. The worker was fired after raising concerns about misinformation in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. For more details, read the news release. Visit OSHA's Web site to learn more about whistleblower protection for workers.
OSHA will host an informal public hearing March 31 at the Marriott Pittsburgh, Pa., City Center on the proposal to align the agency's hazard communication standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The proposed rule will improve the consistency and effectiveness of chemical hazard communication and reduce workers' chemical-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The first hearing was held March 2-5 in Washington, D.C. The April 13 hearing in Los Angeles has been cancelled. For details on the public hearings, read the Federal Register notice.
OSHA added another trainer to its "Outreach Trainer Watch List" after an investigation showed the trainer failed to comply with program guidelines. The list comprises individuals whose training authorization status has been revoked or suspended because of fraudulent activity. OSHA's investigation of Tyrone Nichols revealed he failed to collect and retain course records and falsified information on OSHA-issued student course completion cards for an OSHA 10-hour construction safety course. Nichols' training authorization was revoked. OSHA's voluntary Outreach Training Program features a national network of more than 16,000 independent trainers. The agency continues to strengthen the program's integrity by stopping fraudulent trainers from conducting courses.
OSHA is extending the comment period on the proposal to revise its Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting regulation to March 30 because of weather-related federal government closures in February and to correct the comment period stated in the proposed rule. The proposal focuses on restoring a column on the OSHA Form 300 to better identify work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The rule does not change existing requirements for when and under what circumstances employers must record MSDs on their injury and illness logs. Read the news release for more information.
It's not too late to save the date for OSHA's April 1 "Green Jobs" forum to help workers and small business employers understand hazards related to green jobs in construction, energy, and waste management and recycling. The event, scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at the Labor Department in Washington, D.C., is part of a series of forums that foster collaboration between the small business community and federal government on safety and health management issues. To register, contact Mandi Garner at Garner.Mandi@dol.gov or 202-693-2234. Visit OSHA's Web site for more information on how OSHA assists small business employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers.
OSHA has produced two new Safety and Health Information Bulletins (SHIBs) to help protect workers from electrical hazards and amputations in the workplace. The "Certification of Workplace Products by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories" SHIB helps workers and employers understand and prevent electrical hazards, such as fire, arc flash, explosions, electric shock and electrocution, caused by the installation and use of products or equipment not tested or certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. The "Hazards Associated with the 'Unintended (Double) Cycling' of Mechanical Power Presses" SHIB stresses how amputations can be prevented by ensuring the proper installation and function of safety devices that stop a mechanical power press from operating when a worker's hand is placed at the point of operation.
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Editor: Elaine Fraser, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999
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