|November 17, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 22|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
Beginning January 1, 2015, there will be a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Employers will now be required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding 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 are not simply paperwork but 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 have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA. They can call their nearest area office during normal business hours, call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742), or they can report online at www.osha.gov/report.html. For more information and resources, including a new YouTube video, visit OSHA's Web page on the updated reporting requirements.
*Employers under Federal OSHA's jurisdiction must begin reporting by January 1. Establishments in a state with a State run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.
As the holiday season approaches, OSHA is encouraging retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major sales events, including Black Friday. The agency sent letters to major retailers, retail associations and fire associations to remind employers about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines outlined in the fact sheet Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers.
Tragic consequences and risk to workers can occur if the proper safety procedures are ignored. In 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales.
"During the hectic shopping season, retail workers should not be put at risk of injury or death," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees."
For more information, read the news release.
A "Hair Hang Act" performance during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show on in Providence, R.I., took a disastrous turn when the apparatus the performers were hanging from suddenly fell to the ground. Eight employees performing the act fell more than 15 feet to the ground and sustained serious injuries. A ninth employee, working on the ground, was struck by falling employees. OSHA’s investigation determined this incident occurred because the carabineer used to support the performers failed from being improperly loaded. Feld Entertainment Inc., doing business as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, was cited for one serious safety violation with a proposed penalty of $7,000, the maximum fine allowed by law.
"This catastrophic failure by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clearly demonstrates that the circus industry needs a systematic design approach for the structures used in performances – approaches that are developed, evaluated and inspected by professional engineers," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "While the $7,000 penalty is the maximum allowable by law, we can never put a price on the impact this event had on these workers and their families. Employers must take steps to ensure this does not happen again."
"Equipment failures can lead to tragic results," said Jeff Erskine, acting deputy regional administrator in OSHA's New England regional office. "To prevent these types of incidents, employers need to not only ensure that the right equipment is being used, but also that it is being used properly. The safety and well-being of employees depend on it."
For more information, read the news release.
Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. Inc., doing business as Tenneco, was cited by OSHA for 27 safety and health violations following an inspection at its Hartwell, Ga., plant. Elite Logistic Service Inc., a staffing agency that provided temporary employees to Tenneco at the Hartwell plant, was also cited for one serious safety violation. OSHA initiated the inspection after receiving a complaint alleging improper material handling and machine guarding hazards. Proposed penalties total $342,250.
"The high number of repeat violations of the same or similar hazards demonstrates that this employer is not concerned with protecting its permanent or temporary employees from occupational dangers," said Bill Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. "Fixing a hazard once, but allowing it to creep back into the workplace, shows that management has priorities other than running an effective safety and health program."
Tenneco has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program for demonstrating indifference to the company’s obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees. Violations include exposing workers to slip and fall hazards, failing to protect workers from moving parts during maintenance and from dangerous equipment that require guarding and improper storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders. Elite Logistic Service was cited for exposing its workers to unguarded pallet tippers. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA cited Vyacheslav Leshko, doing business as T and S Masonry LLC, for exposing bricklayers to fall hazards as high as 30 feet above the ground at two residential construction sites in Philadelphia. OSHA officials conducted the inspections after inspectors from the Philadelphia Department of License and Inspections made referrals to the department. Proposed penalties total $100,560.
"T and S Masonry is taking unnecessary chances with worker safety by not providing fall protection for bricklayers working at heights ranging from 25 to 30 feet," said Nicholas DeJesse, director of OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office. "A fall at these heights would result in permanent disability or death."
OSHA inspectors observed workers on scaffolds conducting bricklaying activities without fall protection. Violations found include exposing workers to other scaffolding safety hazards, not providing workers with proper training, and workers using corrosive cement without proper personal protective equipment. For more information, read the news release.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez recently renewed partnership agreements with ambassadors from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica to protect the rights of workers in the United States.
Under these renewed agreements, OSHA and Wage and Hour Division will continue to collaborate with embassies and consulates. Partnerships like these help the department enforce U.S. labor laws more effectively, especially in high-risk and low-wage industries where violations are more likely to occur. They also help the department's enforcement agencies identify problems that workers face and to improve their outreach efforts.
"All workers have a right to a safe workplace and fair payment of wages," said Secretary Perez. "Today's ceremony reaffirms our shared commitment to making sure that workers from these nations are able to exercise their rights."
Taylor Concrete Products Inc. of Watertown, NY reached out to OSHA's free On-site Consultation Program for help with workplace safety at the advice of OSHA Alliance partner, the New York State Concrete Masonry Association. The consultant helped Taylor Concrete identify confined space and hazard communication practices as areas of concern. In response, Taylor Concrete formed a safety committee made up of managers and workers who helped re-write the company’s confined space and hazard communication programs. Company managers also worked closely with consultants to develop a training program to reinforce their safety commitment to new employees. In recognition of this commitment, Taylor Concrete recently earned acceptance into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, which singles out a company among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health. For more information, see the story on Taylor Concrete's success.
On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with small business employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. 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 Oct. 31, OSHA and a consortium of Eastern Pennsylvania companies gathered for an annual open forum for safety professionals from the area to share best practices in occupational safety and health.
Workshops provided an opportunity for attendees to function as both teachers and students, instructing and sharing information with others in the industry to develop novel solutions to safety and health issues that have real-world impacts. For example, one of the ideas shared in a past forum was "First Move Forward," which requires that all vehicles (personal or company) are backed-in or driven through a parking space so that the vehicle faces forward and does not have to be placed in reverse upon departure. In companies where First Move Forward has been implemented, struck-by incidents have been nearly eliminated.
The 2014 workshop focused on several key areas including: worker involvement in injury and illness prevention and OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program and OSHA Challenge. The Challenge Program provides participating employers and workers the opportunity to work through a three stage program to develop an effective safety and health management program, and then implement, track and monitor the program, improving it along the way.
OSHA and the Holder Construction Co. have established a strategic partnership to protect and educate workers on construction hazards during the building of the 334,000-square-foot DuPont CH2 Data Center project in Elk Grove Village, Ill. The Illinois Department of Labor and several local unions are part of the agreement.
The partnership will focus on training the up to 12 subcontractors and 400 workers expected on-site during the one-year long building project about daily hazards that include the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry: fall, electrical, caught-in and struck-by hazards. The partnership will accomplish this through increased training, implementation of best work practices, creation of site-specific written safety and health programs and compliance with applicable OSHA standards and regulations. As part of the agreement, all contractors and subcontractors on the project will be required to have specific written safety and health programs in place and each employee must attend a job site safety orientation before working on the site. See the news release for more information.
OSHA will hold a meeting of its Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Dec. 3-4 in Washington, D.C. Workgroups will meet Dec. 3 and the full committee will meet Dec. 4. ACCSH, established under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, advises the secretary of labor and assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on construction standards and policy matters. The meetings are open to the public. Also, OSHA is accepting nominations for eight new members to serve on the 15-member committee. For information on the agenda, how to submit comments and requests to speak before the committee, and how to nominate members to ACCSH, read the news release.
OSHA will hold a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, Dec. 10, 2014, in Washington, D.C. NACOSH advises and makes recommendations related to the Occupational Safety and Health Act including regulatory, research, compliance assistance and enforcement issues. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez recently appointed or reappointed eight individuals to serve new terms on the committee, which has a total of 12 members representing workers, employers, safety and health professionals, states and the public. The committee's charter has also been renewed. For information on the meeting, including how to submit comments and requests to speak, view the news release.
Two new OSHA fact sheets – "Tube and Coupler Scaffold Planning and Design" and "Tube and Coupler Scaffold Erection and Use" – are now available to help employers protect construction workers using this type of scaffold on the job. Workers building scaffolds are at risk for serious injury from falls and tip-overs, being struck by falling tools and other hazards, and electrocution from energized power lines. Before starting any scaffold project, employers should conduct a hazard assessment to ensure the safety of workers. For more information on scaffolding, visit OSHA's scaffolding safety page.
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To find the latest, most accurate, information about the Marketplace visit HealthCare.gov. At this website, you can learn how the Marketplace works, who can apply for insurance, how to get insurance, how to lower your costs, and more. When you’re ready to apply and enroll in a health plan, HealthCare.gov is the place for that, too!
No matter where you live, you may be able to buy insurance from private health plans that cover a comprehensive set of benefits, including doctor visits, hospital stays, preventive care, and prescriptions. And plans in the Marketplace must treat you fairly—they can't deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. With a single application, you'll also find out if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, or savings you can use right away to lower your health insurance premiums.
Marketplace open enrollment period begins November 15, 2014.
Open enrollment ends February 15, 2015. HealthCare.gov is your best source of information about the Marketplace. You can read important information, print checklists, and watch videos to help you apply and enroll.
Want help or need more information?
If you have questions about what the Health Insurance Marketplace offers, visit HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center toll-free at 800-318-2596, to speak with a trained customer service representative. TTY users should call 855-889-4325. Tell the customer service representative if you need help in a language other than English. You can also visit Localhelp.healthcare.gov to find help in your areas.
OSHA provides news and commentary on workplace safety and health from its senior leadership, staff and guest contributors on the DOL blog. Read the latest post by Deborah Hersman, CEO and President of the National Safety Council, on how the Journey to Safety Excellence starts with you. DOL offers the option to receive blog updates by email.