|June 1, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 13|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
In a May 30 Harvard Business Review article, researchers Michael Toffel and David Levine emphasize the weight of their recent findings that OSHA inspections benefit both workers and businesses.
"Managers should welcome OSHA inspections," explain the researchers. "Randomly inspected establishments improve worker safety and reduce employers' premiums for workers' compensation insurance. And we found no evidence that these establishments suffer any of the competitiveness problems suggested by political rhetoric — like disruptions leading to lost sales or solvency concerns, or any effects on wages — compared to our control group. The differences are small but telling: OSHA inspections offer substantial value to workers, companies, and society."
Their Science article, "Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with No Detectable Job Loss," is now available for free through researcher Michael Toffel's publications page. For further details, read the updated blog from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA and the QuickTakes Special Issue about the results of the study.
OSHA has announced its intent to establish a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. The committee will advise, consult with and make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor and the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of OSHA's administration of whistleblower protections.
The agency enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws.
"This new Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee will help our agency sustain an open dialogue with stakeholders and experts, and will promote the transparency and accountability that are the cornerstone of this administration," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.
OSHA has scheduled an informal stakeholder meeting to solicit comments on how to determine whether OSHA-approved State Plans are at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The purpose of this meeting is to provide a forum to gather information and ideas on key outcome and activity-based indicators and how OSHA can use such indicators to assess the effectiveness of State Plans.
OSHA is responsible for approving and monitoring State Plans. As a condition of OSHA approval, State Plans must provide standards and enforcement programs that are "at least as effective as" the federal OSHA program. The meeting will be held June 25 from 10AM to 1PM at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Room N-3437 in Washington, DC. To participate in or observe the stakeholder meeting, individuals must submit a notice of intent electronically, by facsimile or by hard copy no later than June 11. For more information, read the news release and the Federal Register notice.
As part of OSHA's Fall Prevention Campaign, area offices throughout the country are conducting outreach activities to educate employers and workers about the dangers of falls in construction.
OSHA's North Boston Area Office invited 700 supply warehouses, building inspectors, and construction companies engaged in roofing operations, siding installations, gutter work, and solar panel installations to participate in a series of fall prevention seminars. Attendees participated in hands-on demonstrations of appropriate fall protection equipment, viewed presentations on fall hazards, learned general and specific applications of fall protection, and asked questions in Q&A sessions with OSHA personnel. To learn more about the seminars, contact the area office at (978) 837-4460.
In OSHA's Dallas Area Office, Compliance Assistance Specialist Elías Vela is spreading the word about "Planifique Proporcione Adiestre" ("Plan Provide Train") on Univision Dallas affiliate Channel 23. His interview reached approximately 150,000 Spanish-speaking viewers.
On May 30, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint safety communication with OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which strongly encourages surgeons and other healthcare professionals to use safer, blunt-tip suture needles instead of standard sharps.
Despite the availability of blunt-tip suture needles and the endorsement of their use by professional organizations, needlestick injuries are on the rise in surgical settings. OSHA, together with FDA and NIOSH, has been working to increase awareness in the healthcare industry that the use of these safer needles can reduce workers' risk of needlestick injuries by 69 percent and limit their exposure to Hepatitis, HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens.
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard requires the use of safer devices, such as blunt-tip suture needles, to protect healthcare workers. For more information, visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention and the OSHA FAQ on the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) June 19-20 in Washington, D.C. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis has announced the appointment of three new committee members and the re-appointment of five members.
NACOSH advises the Secretaries of Labor and Health and Human Services on worker safety issues. A tentative agenda includes remarks from the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health and the Director for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; a presentation on OSHA's Hazard Communication final rule; presentations on emerging issues and OSHA's fall prevention campaign; and NACOSH work group reports. A final agenda will be made available on OSHA's NACOSH page
NACOSH meetings are open to the public. Individuals wishing to submit comments or requests to speak may do so electronically at www.regulations.gov. For more information about the meeting and the newly appointed and returning members, read the news release and see the Federal Register notice.
OSHA's newest addition to its heat illness prevention materials is the OSHA Heat Safety Tool smart phone app, with vital safety information to help keep outdoor workers safe from the heat.
The app allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite. Based on the heat index, the app displays a risk level to outdoor workers. With a simple "click," users can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness.
Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, co-hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show "Myth Busters," will join a distinguished panel of judges to select a winner for OSHA's new Challenge.gov app challenge.
Launched as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology's new Safety.Data.Gov website, the Worker Safety and Health Challenge asks developers to utilize government data to create applications for several platforms that address one or both of the following categories: tools that demonstrate the importance of knowing about workplace safety and health and/or tools that help young people understand their rights in the workplace. The competition judges will also include Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.
"We are always looking for better and more efficient ways to ensure all workers know about their lawful right to a safe and healthful workplace," wrote Dr. Michaels in a recent DOL blog. "The increasing use of technology by the federal government to open this process to the public's talents and the indelible civic spirit across the country is one terrific way for us to find those solutions."
To learn more about the judges, cash prizes, or contest rules and to find out how to enter the competition, read Dr. Michaels' full blog post and visit OSHA's challenge page at workersafetyhealth.challenge.gov.
An administrative law judge has upheld citations issued by OSHA to SeaWorld of Florida, LLC, following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. In response to SeaWorld's appeal of the OSHA citations, Judge Ken Welsch ruled that physical barriers between trainers and killer whales are, in fact, a feasible means of preventing hazards to workers at SeaWorld.
The OSHA investigation revealed that SeaWorld had an extensive history of unexpected and dangerous incidents involving killer whales and trainers at its various facilities, including its location in Orlando. Despite this record, management failed to make meaningful changes to improve the safety of the work environment for its employees.
"OSHA's only intent has been to ensure the safety and health of employees who work with SeaWorld's killer whales in performances," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels of the recent ruling. “That is a win for the employees of SeaWorld, because within 10 days after the Judge's order becomes final, SeaWorld must abate the hazards and provide documentation to OSHA's Tampa Area Office that the hazards have been corrected."
OSHA has secured a settlement agreement with Bostik Inc., a Middleton-based adhesives manufacturer, to resolve litigation stemming from citations for safety violations following a March 2011 explosion.
OSHA cited Bostik in September after a six-month investigation found numerous violations of the agency's process safety management standard. Bostik paid a fine of $600,000 and is no longer using the direct solvation process at the Middleton facility. According to the settlement, Bostik has taken and continues to take corrective action to address deficiencies in its PSM program and enhance the program's effectiveness, and also agrees to submit proof of abatement to OSHA. For more details of the settlement, see the news release.
OSHA has cited Raani Corp. for failing to seek emergency medical treatment after a worker incurred fatal chemical burns at the Bedford Park, Ill., manufacturing plant on Nov. 17.
OSHA received a referral from the Cook County medical examiner indicating that a worker had died on Dec. 8 from burn injuries caused by high-temperature water and a solution that erupted while the worker was beneath an open tank hatch. An investigation determined that the company failed to call 911 to seek emergency medical treatment and neglected to wash the worker in the available safety shower. The worker was transferred to a local occupational health clinic in a co-worker’s vehicle more than 30 minutes after the injury.
The company has been cited with 14 safety violations, including six willful violations, which include failing to utilize available emergency care; provide, require and train workers on the proper use of protective clothing; provide eye, face and hand protection when handling high-temperature liquid and hazardous chemicals; and failing to provide hazard communication training to workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. For more details about the willful and serious violations, read the press release.
OSHA has cited Western Extrusions Corp. with two willful and 13 serious violations for exposing workers to a variety of safety and health hazards at its aluminum products manufacturing facility in Carrollton. OSHA's Dallas Area Office initiated an inspection Nov. 17 at the company's facility on Sandy Lake Road under the agency's National Emphasis Program for Amputations. Proposed penalties total $212,000.
The willful violations involve failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures for machines' energy sources to protect workers performing maintenance and setup activities, and provide guarding on press brakes. The serious violations include failing to guard open-sided floors and platforms, provide personal protective equipment, properly label hazardous chemicals, provide machine guards, and provide workers hepatitis B vaccinations and training on bloodborne pathogens.
OSHA has placed Western Extrusions Corp. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that repeatedly endanger workers. For more information about the willful and serious citations, see the news release.
With workers compensation costs exceeding $55,000 and injury rates far higher than the industry’s national average, Florida wire and cable manufacturer Cable USA LLC reached out to OSHA’s Free On-site Consultation Program for help. OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses to help them identify and correct hazards and improve their injury and illness prevention programs.
Following the initial OSHA consultation in 2010, Cable USA decided to concentrate on increasing worker involvement in implementing a safety and health management program. A daily departmental inspection program was developed to eliminate or reduce hazards, improve teamwork, and develop a safety and health culture at the worksite. Together, the team of workers and managers collaborated to address electrical and chemical hazards, conduct air monitoring, and educate workers about proper hearing protection. As a result, the company’s workers compensation costs and injury and illness rates dropped dramatically, and Cable USA became a SHARP site in 2011.
In May 2012, Devin Brock, Cable USA’s Vice President of Operations explained, “The biggest success that we have experienced is the safety and health culture that permeates Cable USA because of increased employee involvement. It is this newly formed culture that has driven our improved safety and health statistics." Read more about Cable USA on OSHA’s Success Story page. To request a free consultation, visit OSHA’s On-Site Consultation page or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) to find an office in your area.
On May 15, the National Safety Council's 29th Annual Safety and Health Summit in Omaha, Neb., featured a special presentation from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. Dr. Michaels emphasized OSHA's new campaign to prevent falls in construction as well as continued efforts to reduce grain entrapments prevalent in the regional grain industry.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has selected OSHA's Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax as the 2012 recipient of its prestigious William Steiger Memorial Award.
Fairfax, a certified industrial hygienist, has worked for OSHA for 34 years, beginning as a field industrial hygienist and progressing to Director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary in April 2010.
The AIHA is one of the largest international associations serving the needs of occupational and environmental health and safety professionals practicing industrial hygiene in industry, government, labor, academic institutions, and independent organizations. The AIHA Steiger award is named for Wisconsin Congressman William A. Steiger, co-author of the bill that established OSHA, in honor of individuals whose efforts have contributed to advancements in occupational safety and health.
Fairfax will receive the award at the 2012 AIHA Conference and Expo in Indianapolis June 16-21, where conference attendees will include Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels and Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Dr. John Howard.
On May 9, OSHA teamed with State Programs, Voluntary Protection Programs, SHARP companies and other partners across New England to share safety information and perform inspections and maintenance on electrical cords and devices at local businesses.
More than 3,200 workers and employers at over 100 sites across New England learned how to properly inspect electrical cords and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GRCIs) in their workplaces. Two-thirds of the participants reported finding defective equipment, and hundreds of electrical hazards and defective pieces of equipment were identified and removed from service. To learn more, visit the Electrical Inspection/Training Roll-Up Day Facebook fan page. Additional information about electrical hazards and protective measures can be found on OSHA's OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page.
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