|December 15, 2014 · Volume 13, Issue 24|
|A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.|
Beginning Jan. 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 out about the incident.
On Dec. 11, OSHA held a conversation on Twitter to answer questions about the new reporting requirements going into effect at the beginning of the new year. Some of the most frequently asked questions are discussed in a blog by Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
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 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 will be able to report online at www.osha.gov/report.html. For more information and resources, visit OSHA's Web page on the updated reporting requirements and watch OSHA’s new YouTube video, where Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, explains the new 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.
OSHA has signed a two-year alliance with the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in the exploration and production sector of the oil and gas industry.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels signed the agreement prior to his keynote address at the Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference in Houston, Texas, where more than 2,100 industry representatives, safety and health organizations, and educators gathered to collaborate on ways to improve safety in the oil and gas industry.
"Too many oil and gas industry workers are being hurt or killed on the job," said Dr. Michaels. "These tragedies are preventable and we need to work together to address hazards, prevent injuries and save lives."
At the conference, Assistant Secretary Michaels announced the release of a new booklet for the Oil & Gas Industry, Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica. The booklet was the product of the OSHA oil and gas workgroup with assistance from the National STEPS network team.
For more information, read the news release.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics published their annual report on workplace injuries and illnesses Dec. 4, which stated that three million workers sustained nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2013.
Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, issued a statement on the report. "We are encouraged that the rates continue to decline over the past few years, even during this period of healthy economic growth when we would expect the rate of injuries to rise. The decrease in the injury rate is a product of tireless work by those employers, unions, worker advocates and occupational safety and health professionals all coupled with the efforts of federal and state government organizations that make worker safety and health a high priority each and every day."
"We cannot ignore those three million workers. The severity of their injuries and illnesses varies widely; some are amputees, some suffer back injuries, while others have to struggle for each breath. Work injuries can instantly pull the rug out from a family striving for a good middle-class life," Michaels said.
On Dec. 11, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Environment and Public Works Committees. In his testimony, Michaels outlined OSHA's actions, as part of the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group, to improve chemical facility safety and security and to reduce risks to workers and surrounding communities posed by hazardous chemicals at these facilities.
The Working Group was established by Executive Order 13650 and directed the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation to identify ways to improve operational coordination with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners; to enhance Federal agency coordination and information sharing; to modernize policies, regulations, and standards to enhance safety and security in chemical facilities; and to work with stakeholders to identify best practices to reduce safety and security risks in the production and storage of potentially harmful chemicals.
The Working Group issued a May 2014 Report to the President, summarizing the working group's progress, focusing on actions to date, findings and lessons learned, challenges, and short- and long-term priority actions. The report includes a variety of actions OSHA will explore to improve the safety of chemical facilities.
"These include considering changes to our emergency response standards, modernizing and updating the PSM standard and policies, regulatory changes to improve ammonium nitrate safety, and developing targeted outreach and guidance products," Michaels told the committee.
For more details, see Dr. Michaels' testimony.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. was cited for eight serious violations after an OSHA inspection found workers at the company’s Deepwater, N.J., plant were exposed to hazardous chemicals that leaked from a tanker truck. The chemicals are known to cause severe burns, respiratory and reproductive health issues. The inspection was prompted under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Chemical Process Safety after a complaint was filed. Proposed penalties total $120,300.
"The chemicals used at the Deepwater plant are corrosive and volatile," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Area Office in Marlton. "Releasing toxic, reactive or flammable liquid can cause serious injury and death. It's vital that DuPont recognize these hazards and take the steps necessary to prevent situations like this tanker truck leak."
In addition to serious violations cited under the process safety management standard, OSHA also cited DuPont for failing to perform an analysis addressing hazards related to the storage and transport of chemicals, failing to inspect and test the equipment used in chemical processes, and not addressing issues relating to hazards promptly. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA cited Wagner's LLC for willful, repeat and serious violations for exposing workers to dangerous machine parts. A 25-year-old employee spent his birthday in the hospital after his hand and arm were severely injured when caught in a moving piece of machinery. When the incident occurred, he was clearing birdseed from an industrial mixing tank at the facility. He had been on the job for two months. OSHA proposed penalties of $241,680.
"Failure to protect employees from dangerous machinery often leads to catastrophic injury or death. While this worker will see his 26th birthday, he will forever carry the memory and scars from this injury," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "OSHA's investigation found a breakdown in management, which led to this employee's injury. That's unacceptable. Workers should never be at risk because safety procedures slow production."
OSHA's investigation found that Wagner's failed to provide machine guarding, lockout energy sources to protect the worker from contact with rotating machine parts and unexpected machine start-up, train workers and conduct periodic inspections of written protocols related to locking out machines. For more information, read the news release.
An OSHA inspection of D&D Manufacturing Inc. in El Paso, Texas, found workers exposed to amputations, electrical and other hazards. The metal stamping manufacturer was cited for 41 safety and health violations, including 36 serious violations, and proposed penalties of $181,800.
"Workers were at risk of serious injuries because D&D Manufacturing failed to guard mechanical and hydraulic presses and to ensure machines were de-energized during maintenance," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in El Paso. "Federal standards addressing these hazards have existed for decades. D&D's failure to follow these safety and health requirements is unacceptable."
Additional violations include failure to implement an effective hearing conservation program, assess the need for personal protective equipment, train workers on the use of respiratory protection and implement a written hazard communication program. For more information, read the news release.
Following the death of a 45-year-old untrained diver, OSHA cited Ric-Man International Inc. for 19 safety violations, including one willful. The employee died while completing surface-supplied air diving during underwater construction activities for the City of Weston, Fla., on June 10, 2014. Proposed penalties total $161,000.
"Ric-Man International exposed employees to serious safety hazards when feasible methods existed to protect employees from cave-in and drowning hazards," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "The company must take the necessary precautions to prevent employees from exposure to these hazards."
OSHA issued a citation for a willful violation for failure to provide cave-in protection for employees working inside an excavation approximately 12-feet deep. Thirteen serious violations were issued for failure to ensure workers who performed diving operations were experienced and trained to perform underwater tasks safely; provide divers with a backup air supply, safety harness and two-way voice communication for emergencies; and to plan and assess risks associated with diving, including underwater conditions, obstructions and visibility. Read the news release for more information.
In a separate incident, OSHA cited Vallencourt Construction for two willful and five serious safety violations after the company knowingly endangered employees at a residential construction site by allowing them to work in an unprotected excavation. Proposed penalties total $169,000.
"Vallencourt's on-site managers saw workers in an unprotected excavation and knew the employees had not followed proper safety procedures, but they failed to take action to protect the workers," said Brian Sturtecky, director of OSHA's Jacksonville Area Office. "An employer that willfully disregards safety procedures puts workers at risk of being killed or seriously injured. OSHA standards exist to save lives."
OSHA cited the employer for willfully allowing employees to work in an excavation without cave-in protection and failing to ensure soil and rocks were two feet from the excavation’s edge to prevent these materials from falling in and injuring workers. Serious violations were issued for failures to conduct inspections on equipment used to lift construction materials, such as slings, hooks and cables; remove damaged lifting equipment from service; and use lifting equipment in a manner not intended by the manufacturer. Read the news release for more information.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program and OSHA have renewed an alliance to protect and educate workers on construction and excavation hazards. The alliance will focus on training employers and workers about crane operations, earthmoving, trenching and excavations and hazardous waste sites.
"We are proud to renew this alliance focused on education and training for apprentices and workers in these dangerous trades," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, Ill. "When workers are involved from day one in the training process, it creates a work culture in which safety is paramount, and that prevents injuries and illness and saves lives."
For more information, read the news release.
Workers involved in handling, treatment, transport, and disposal of medical, laboratory and other waste must be protected from exposure to infectious agents, including Ebola virus, which causes Ebola virus disease. Contaminated waste may pose a greater risk to workers if it is not handled safely or packaged, treated, and disposed of properly.
OSHA's new fact sheet, "Safe Handling, Treatment, Transport, and Disposal of Ebola-Contaminated Waste," was developed jointly with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. It helps employers take the necessary steps to protect workers whose jobs involve tasks throughout the waste cycle, from the point of waste generation through final disposition of treated waste products. The new guidance also encourages employers to create a waste management plan and secure necessary contracts and permits ahead of time in order to help avoid potential exposure hazards, security risks and storage problems.
In addition to exposure to the Ebola virus, the new interagency guidance also helps employers protect workers from physical and chemical hazards that may be associated with waste management. Visit OSHA's Ebola page for more information on how employers must protect their workers from the Ebola virus, as well as from these other related hazards.
As mentioned in the story above, OSHA also recently published Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica . This booklet was the product of the OSHA oil and gas workgroup with assistance from the National STEPS network team.
Publications are available to download at no cost by visiting OSHA's website. To order publications, contact OSHA's Publications Office at 202-693-1888.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released a 23-page booklet showing procedures employers can share with workers in grocery stores to reduce the risk of strains and sprains when moving materials from the delivery truck to the sales floor.
Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers uses a series of illustrations to show how and where employees in a retail setting, such as a grocery store, would use mechanical assist devices to lift, push or pull heavy materials—job tasks that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Manual material handling injuries, also called overexertion injuries, account for 60 percent of the injuries and lost work in select retail businesses.
Although this new publication focuses on the grocery sector, the easy-to-read format can be adapted to other scenarios including for those working in warehouse and storage facilities. The technology presented may also support a retailer's growing Internet sales that depend on moving large quantities of merchandise often with fewer employees. See the NIOSH news release for more information.