October 16, 2018 • Volume 17, Issue 20 • A twice monthly newsletter with information about workplace safety and health.
U.S. Department of Labor Announces Actions to Assist Americans Affected by Hurricane Michael
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) is engaged in administration-wide efforts to help those in the path of Hurricane Michael. OSHA will cease programmed enforcement actions in the affected areas and provide compliance assistance during the recovery effort. Seven other DOL agencies are assisting those impacted by the storm. For more information, read the news release. For resources to keep workers safe, visit OSHA's website.
Safety Summit Held to Reduce Trenching Fatalities
Every year, more than 50 workers die in trench-related incidents and thousands more are injured. OSHA and the North American Excavation Shoring Association recently hosted the Colorado Trench Safety Summit to raise awareness of hazards and best practices. More than 500 attendees participated in training and demonstrations, including a mock trench rescue by local first responders. OSHA also shared compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching hazards.
OSHA Issues Memorandum Clarifying Position on Incentive Programs and Drug Testing
OSHA issued a memorandum clarifying the agency's position that its rule prohibiting employer retaliation against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses does not prohibit workplace safety incentive programs or post-incident drug testing. The Department believes that many employers who implement safety incentive programs and/or conduct post-incident drug testing do so to promote workplace safety and health. Action taken under a safety incentive program or post-incident drug testing policy would only violate OSHA's anti-retaliation rule if the employer took the action to penalize an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness rather than for the legitimate purpose of promoting workplace safety and health. For more information, see the memorandum.
U.S. Postal Service Cited for Safety Violations at Austin Facility
An employee at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Austin, Texas, was injured after being ejected from a forklift. OSHA cited the postal service for failing to ensure that forklift operators obeyed traffic regulations. The postal service was also cited for exposing employees to tripping hazards, and failing to label electrical panels and breakers. USPS faces penalties totaling $224,858. Read the news release for more information. For information about forklift safety see OSHA's QuickCard.
New Jersey Pet Food Manufacturer Cited for Failure to Correct Workplace Hazards
OSHA cited Hamiltime Herb Co, LLC, for safety and health violations after conducting a follow-up investigation where a worker had four fingers amputated by a batch mixer. The company faces $152,829 in penalties for failing to develop a lockout/tagout program, provide machine guarding, develop a respiratory protection program, and train workers to operate a forklift. For more information, read the news release.
Ohio Manufacturer Cited for Machine Guarding Violations after Employee Injury
American Excelsior Co., was cited for machine guarding violations after an employee's arm was crushed while removing product build-up from a machine. The company was cited for failing to implement procedures to prevent unintentional machine start-up, and train employees on energy control procedures. OSHA issued penalties of $213,411. Read the news release for more information.
Wisconsin Refinery Cited for Failing to Control Hazardous Chemicals
OSHA cited Superior Refining Co., LLC, for failing to control the use and release of highly hazardous chemicals after an explosion and fire at the company's plant injured several employees. Superior Refining faces $83,150 in penalties. Inspectors cited the refinery for eight serious violations of OSHA's process safety management procedures. For more information, read the news release.
Washington Cites Construction Company for Trenching and Excavation Hazards
The Washington Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued six citations and $126,400 in penalties to Colf Construction for exposing workers to trenching and excavation hazards during a highway bridge project. Inspectors determined that the company failed to ensure that workers were protected from cave-ins, conduct daily excavation inspections, remove workers from hazardous areas, and provide safe exits from excavations. Read the news release for more information.
Hawaii Cites Electrical Contractor for Safety and Health Violations
The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division issued three citations and $88,725 in penalties to Hawaiian Electric Co., Inc., after a foreman came in contact with energized equipment and sustained a near-fatal shock and burns. Inspectors concluded that the company failed to have an effective safety and health program, train workers on the control of hazardous energy, and conduct an inspection to identify hazards before starting work.
Wisconsin Manufacturer Settles Whistleblower Allegations
A federal court awarded a machine operator $100,000 in back wages and compensatory damages after the employee was fired by employer, Dura-Fibre LLC, for reporting injuries that he and a co-worker sustained. The court found that the company's policy of assigning disciplinary points to employees who reported injuries violated anti-retaliation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Dura-Fibre agreed to remove all references of the retaliation from the employee's record. The company will also train managers and employees on proper reporting of injuries and illnesses; change its reporting policy; and ensure that employees are made aware of their OSHA whistleblower rights. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA Meets With Group That Mentors Small Businesses
OSHA's Boston Regional Office recently met with small business mentors from SCORE in Allston, Mass., to provide OSHA information and resources. SCORE is a nonprofit association that helps thousands of entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. See OSHA's Small Business page for resources to help keep workers safe.
North Carolina On-Site Consultation Program Helps Manufacturer Reduce Injuries and Costs
Hardware manufacturer Grass America, Inc., contacted North Carolina's On-Site Consultation Program for help reducing its rate of recordable injuries. By working with consultants from the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Division, the company achieved a total recordable injury rate that was less than one-third of the industry average (compared to the latest data available). The company was accepted into the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, and its workers' compensation costs are now one-third of what they were before entering SHARP. For more information, see the success story.
OSHA Joins Partnership to Promote Workplace Safety During Construction of Georgia STEM School
OSHA, the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation, and Barton Malow Construction Co., entered a partnership to prevent injuries and exposure to hazards during the construction of a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics high school building. The partners will encourage contractors to implement safety and health programs; provide safety and health training; and conduct effective self-inspections, chemical and particulate sampling, and outreach activities. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA Alliance Partners Commit to Improving Worker Safety and Health
- The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals signed a two-year agreement to provide information on reducing and preventing exposure to safety and health hazards in the maintenance, reliability, and physical asset management profession.
- Organizations representing many of Ohio's craft brewers signed a two-year agreement to develop educational programs on hazards in the industry and share information on OSHA initiatives. For more information, see the news release.
SAFETY AND HEALTH RESOURCES
Free Webinar on Safety Leadership in the Construction Industry
CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, an OSHA Alliance program participant, will host a free webinar on Oct. 25 to provide an overview of Foundations for Safety Leadership. The interactive training module (also available in Spanish) teaches leadership skills and practices to construction foremen and team leaders. For more information and to register, visit the webinar website.
Revised Webpage Makes State Plan Information Easier to Find
OSHA redesigned the State Plans webpage with a new color-coded, interactive map to simplify finding contact and jurisdictional information for each state. Users can also access frequently asked questions and details about State Plan activities.
NIOSH Fact Sheet Addresses Opioid Overdoses in the Workplace
Opioid overdoses are increasing in the workplace, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that between 2013 and 2016, overdose deaths from non-medical use of drugs and alcohol increased by 38 percent annually. In response to this trend, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released a new fact sheet, Using Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose in the Workplace. It provides a series of steps for employers to consider when deciding whether to make the overdose reversal medication available in the workplace. For more information, see the news release. When implementing a naloxone program, employers are reminded of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide their employees with a safe and healthful workplace.
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