|November 1, 2012 · Volume 11, Issue 23|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
In this issue
As the disaster recovery response to Hurricane Sandy begins throughout much of the Eastern United States, OSHA's field staff is working diligently to provide assistance and support to those involved in the recovery effort. OSHA urges workers and members of the public engaged in cleanup activities to be aware of the hazards they might encounter and the necessary steps they should take to protect themselves.
OSHA maintains comprehensive websites on keeping disaster site workers safe during hurricane and storm cleanup and flood response operations. The hurricane page includes a response/recovery page features a link to OSHA’s Hurricane eMatrix, which features information on hazard exposures and risk assessments for hurricane response and recovery work. The flood preparedness and response page also includes a response/recovery page that provides useful details on the hazards to avoid when flooding has occurred. The sites also provide extensive resources on protecting recovery workers, including a Hurricane Sandy safety and health resource page from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. For more information, read OSHA's press release on the Hurricane Sandy response.
OSHA's Philadelphia Regional Office has signed an Alliance with the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in Washington, D.C., to improve safety and health for Dominican workers in the United States. Through the two-year Alliance, OSHA and the consulate will work jointly to develop training and education materials focused on promoting workers' understanding of their rights in the workplace, as well as recognizing and preventing workplace hazards.
OSHA has published a new instruction for field staff entitled Inspection and Citation Guidance for Roadway and Highway Construction Work Zones. The document provides instructions designed to keep OSHA field staff safe while they are inspecting these dangerous work zones, including the correct personal protective equipment to wear, use of flashing lights on vehicles, and safe work practices. The instruction also provides guidance to field staff on the correct OSHA standards to cite when they observe specific safety issues.
OSHA has cited Symmetry Turf Installations LLC of Mount Pleasant, Texas, with two serious safety violations for failing to protect employees working in excessive heat. OSHA conducted an inspection after a forklift operator died of complications from heat stroke that occurred in June while resurfacing the football practice field at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. OSHA's Little Rock Area Office cited the employer for failing to implement protective measures, such as acclimatizing workers to the heat and providing a climate controlled area for heat-affected employees to take breaks, and failing to train employees on the health effects of heat-related illnesses. For more information, read the news release.
Information and resources for workers and employers on heat illness – including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency – are available in English and Spanish at www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html. Materials include a training curriculum. OSHA also has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites, which can be downloaded in English or Spanish.
The Department of Labor has settled its whistleblower case against Brush Creek-based trucking company Mark Alvis Inc., owner Mark Alvis and dispatcher Jack Taylor for terminating an employee who refused to operate a vehicle because he was ill, fatigued and did not have sufficient remaining hours to complete a delivery.
On May 4, 2010, the employee was assigned to deliver a truck of milk to a supermarket in Murfreesboro. While preparing for the drive, he slipped and was hurt but thought the pain would go away. The next day, the employee proceeded with the delivery as planned, and upon arriving in Murfreesboro, was instructed to perform another delivery. The employee informed the dispatcher of feeling ill and fatigued, and also of not having sufficient allowable service hours remaining to make the drive according to federal regulations. The employee then returned to the company's site in Brush Creek, where he was told to remove his belongings from his truck. The settlement terms include reinstatement, a lump sum payment to the employee and assurances that no employee exercising rights protected by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act will be discharged or face any manner of discrimination.
For more information, read the press release. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. More information is available online at www.whistleblowers.gov.
OSHA renewed its Alliance with the International Window Cleaning Association to address slips, trips, falls from heights and issues related to the safe use of high-reach access equipment, including ladders and scaffolding, in the window cleaning industry.
During the two-year agreement between OSHA and IWCA, a non-profit trade association representing more than 500 national and international member companies that employ more than 10,000 workers, the Alliance will develop training manuals and documents on safe practices for cleaning windows and solar panels. Some current and new documents will be translated into Spanish to help educate Hispanic workers, who comprise about 50 percent of the industry. The Alliance will also support national awareness campaigns such as the Heat Illness Prevention Campaign and the North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. See the news release for more information.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.
OSHA staff participated in Univision television's "LIVE" phone bank in Austin, Texas, to promote the importance of worker safety and health. Over the course of five hours, OSHA staff from the San Antonio and Austin area offices fielded more than 360 calls from the viewing public. The OSHA team answered questions from viewers calling in about their rights if they are injured on the job. Many of the callers thanked the OSHA team for being available and passing on valuable information on what OSHA can do to keep them safe and healthy on the job.
The OSHA 300 form is explained and praised as a valuable analytical tool to protect health care workers in a recent article published by Joint Commission Resources. In its October article, "OSHA 300: A Log to Live By," the Joint Commission states that "properly documenting work-related injuries can reduce incidents" of worker injuries and illnesses."
The OSHA 300 Log is one of the key forms that OSHA requires hospitals and other large businesses to complete. The 300 form is "far more than recordkeeping," wrote the Joint Commission; for employers, the log "is an invaluable resource that should be integrated into monitoring and analysis" to target where workplaces are having problems with injuries and illnesses.
"Looking closer [at the 300 Log] can reveal a lot of important information, such as what tasks employees are performing when they are injured and how," said Mark Hagemann, Acting Director of OSHA's Office of Technological Feasibility, who was interviewed for the article. "You need to identify the problems so you can fix them," he said. "That's the only way to assure a culture of safety for both patients and health care workers."
An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. OSHA and the Joint Commission have worked together since 2004 under an Alliance agreement to protect health care workers' health and safety. Read the article and learn how to make the best use of the OSHA 300 Log here.
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Health and the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will both meet in Washington, D.C., this month. NACOSH will meet Nov. 14-15, 2012, with meetings of the NACOSH Effectiveness Measures Work Group scheduled for Nov. 14, and the full committee meeting taking place Nov. 15. The work group and committee meetings will be held in Room S-4215 A-C, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. The NACOSH work group will meet from 1 - 4 p.m., Nov. 14. The committee will meet 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Nov. 15. See the Federal Register notice for details.
ACCSH work group and committee meetings will be held in Room N-3437 A-C, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. The full committee will meet 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m., Nov. 29, and 8 a.m. - noon, Nov. 30. Two ACCSH work groups will meet November 27: Health Hazards, Emerging Issues and Prevention through Design, noon - 2 p.m.; and Diversity, 2:15 - 4:15 p.m. Three work groups will meet Nov. 28: Training and Outreach, 8 - 10 a.m.; Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, 10:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.; and Backing Operations, 1:15 - 3:15 p.m. A Federal Register notice announcing the ACCSH meeting is expected to be published early next week.
Committee and work group meetings are open to the public. Individuals may submit comments and requests to speak at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submissions may also be sent by mail or facsimile. Comments for NACOSH must be submitted by Nov. 2, 2012. Comments and requests to speak for ACCSH must be submitted by Nov. 16, 2012.
On Oct. 18, OSHA convened a meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH). The agenda included a discussion on revitalization of field safety and health councils, updates from FACOSH subcommittees, and the Secretary of Labor's report to the President on Federal Department and Agency Occupational Safety and Health Activity. FACOSH also approved the report, Recommendations for Consideration by the Secretary of Labor on Uniform Safety and Health Training Guidelines for the Federal Government, which contains recommendations for improving the consistency of occupational safety and health training requirements at all staff levels of the federal government.
FACOSH advises the Secretary of Labor on all matters relating to the occupational safety and health of federal employees. This includes providing advice on how to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses in the federal workforce and how to encourage each federal Executive Branch department and agency to establish and maintain effective occupational safety and health programs. For more information about the October 18 meeting, see the Federal Register notice.
Plan. Provide. Train. These three simple steps can prevent falls and save lives. OSHA's fall prevention campaign website provides several training resources and educational resources to assist workers and employers in preventing falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. These pages have been updated with additional materials from OSHA's campaign partners, including new Spanish-language resources on ladders and other equipment.
To order these or any of OSHA's fall prevention materials, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.
On Sept. 20-21, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration convened the "Expert Forum on the Use of Performance-based Regulatory Models in the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry" in Texas City, Texas. The forum was attended by onshore and offshore oil and gas industry representatives, contractors, labor organizations, and Congressional representatives, along with four additional federal agencies: the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), United States Coast Guard (USCG), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
In a recent letter to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, American Society of Safety Engineers president Richard A. Pollock wrote that his organization "is encouraged that the five agencies have begun an open discussion that, with diligence and continued transparency, can establish a comprehensive regulatory strategy that both meets the responsibilities each agency has been given to protect workers, workplaces and the environment and establishes a common approach to regulation so that stakeholders in the industry can clearly understand the regulatory responsibilities they must meet."
At this year's National Safety Council annual conference in Orlando, Fla., on October 23, Dr. Michaels delivered a keynote address in which he praised employers who have comprehensive injury and illness prevention programs, outlined current OSHA initiatives and presented promising new data about reduced fatalities from falls in residential construction.
Dr. Michaels was joined onstage at NSC by John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, to discuss the two agencies’ joint efforts to prevent fatal falls through their national fall prevention campaign.
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential health and safety advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Each year, responding to requests from small employers looking to improve workplace health and safety and their safety and health management programs, OSHA's On-site Consultation Program conducts over 29,000 visits to small business worksites covering over 1.5 million workers across the nation.
On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing safety and health management programs. For more information, to find the local On-site Consultation office in your state, or to request a brochure on Consultation Services, visit OSHA's On-site Consultation page, or call 1-800-321-OSHA .
The Department of Labor challenges developers, students and anyone else with a little tech savvy and creativity to enter the Workplace Safety & Health Challenge by designing tools that demonstrate the importance of recognizing and preventing workplace safety and health hazards and help young people understand their rights in the workplace. The deadline is November 30. Successful entries could take many different forms: smart phone apps, interactive and informative games, social or professional networking sites, or data visualization tools that teach young people about safety and health hazards. Submissions may be designed for Internet browsers, smartphones, feature phones, social media platforms, or as native Windows or Macintosh applications.
See DOL's weekly electronic newsletter for more DOL news.
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