OSHA Quick Takes – June 2, 2014

OSHA QuickTakes

 

 

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez launches unprecedented partnership for safety: More than 1 million workers across the country expected to “Stand-Down” to prevent falls in construction

National Safety Stand-down poster

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels today announced the kick-off for the national fall safety stand-down, reaching more than 1 million workers and bringing together tens of thousands of businesses across the country. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In 2012, 279 construction workers lost their lives in falls from heights and more than 8,800 construction workers were seriously injured by falls. From June 2 to 6, employers and workers are voluntarily stopping work to talk about saving lives and preventing fatal falls, reaching more workers, businesses and workplaces than ever before.

“This is an unprecedented effort with a record number of participants coming together for worker safety,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The economy is on the rebound, housing starts are on the rise, and the summer construction season is getting underway. Now is the time to focus on this vital safety issue and make sure all construction workers get to come home at the end of every workday.”

“Our message is ‘safety pays and falls cost,'” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We emphasize planning ahead, providing the right equipment—such as guard rails or safety harnesses, lines and anchors—and training all employees, three simple steps can save lives.”

During this week OSHA is partnering with the Associated General Contracts, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Roofing Contractors Association, the Steel Erection Association, more than ten international unions including the Carpenters, the Laborers Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Ironworkers Union, CPWR, community organizations, faith-based organizations and universities nationwide.

The national stand-down is part of OSHA’s third annual Fall Prevention Campaign, launched in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Occupational Research Agenda, and CPWR, the Center for Construction Research and Training. For more information on the national stand-down, read the press release and statements from Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary Michaels, or visit OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down page and read OSHA’s blog.

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Stand-Down safety events scheduled at more than 25,000 workplaces nationwide

Safety Stand-Down for Fall prevention billboard
One of six billboards posted in well-traveled areas of Arizona promotes OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Dozens of billboards are going up in more than ten states across the country to support the campaign.

In hundreds of stand-down events happening across the country, employers and workers will pause their workday to talk about fall prevention in construction, and discuss topics like ladder safety, scaffolding safety and roofing work safety. Businesses, universities, faith-based groups, the U.S. Air Force and many others are joining together in record numbers for the week-long stand-down.

The University of Texas at Arlington is joining with OSHA’s Dallas staff and Balfour Beatty to kick off events across the state of Texas. In Palo Alto, Calif., Clark Construction will be hosting a stand-down at the Stanford University Medical Center with OSHA staff in the Oakland area. OSHA officials will join racecar driver Greg Biffle at the Daytona Speedway in Jacksonville, Fla., to do a fall protection harness demonstration and discuss fall safety with construction workers. In Nebraska, OSHA Omaha staff is teaming with the Heartland Workers Center to host a free fall prevention event for the public at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

For a complete list of stand-downs open to the public, visit OSHA’s National Safety Fall-Down calendar of events.

Materials to use in stand-downs, including posters, factsheets, safety videos, stickers and tool box talks, can be found on OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign Web page.

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OSHA launches annual summer campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses

Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers

OSHA announced May 22 the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. For the fourth consecutive year, OSHA’s campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the serious hazards of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards.

“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest.”

In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat, and it is especially important for employers to allow new and temporary workers time to acclimate. Workers at particular risk include those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation.

Visit OSHA’s heat campaign Web page for free educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a free heat app for mobile devices. See the news release and the recent blog by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels for more on OSHA’s heat illness campaign and resources.

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Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway ordered to pay more than $526,000 to terminated workers who were retaliated against for reporting injuries

Whistleblower Protection Programs

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has been ordered to pay more than $526,000 in back wages and other damages to two workers following an investigation by OSHA. The agency found that the company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, violated the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act by terminating the employees in 2010 and 2011 for reporting injuries that occurred at the company’s Havre, Mont., terminal.

“An employer cannot retaliate against employees who report an injury,” said Gregory Baxter, OSHA’s regional administrator in Denver. “OSHA recognizes that employers can legitimately have, and apply, policies to require prompt injury reporting; however, that is not what happened here. When employers mask their retaliatory intent through application of a policy or rule, they violate the law.”

Burlington Northern has been ordered to pay back wages with interest, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees, while reinstating and expunging the two employees’ work records. Read the news release for additional details. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of laws in various industries. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.

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Chicago engineering company cited again for failing to protect construction workers from trenching hazards

For the second time this year, OSHA has cited Pan-Oceanic Engineering Co. Inc. for exposing workers to trenching hazards at a job site at East 93rd Street and South Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago, Ill. OSHA cited the company for willful violations for again failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins while installing water and sewer lines. Proposed penalties total $147,000.

“It is completely unacceptable that Pan-Oceanic Engineering continues to put workers at such great risk,” said Kathy Webb, OSHA’s area director in Calumet City. “Since 2003, this company has been cited multiple times for violations of trenching standards, which result in numerous fatalities and injuries every year. Pan-Oceanic Engineering’s repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to the safety of its workers.”

OSHA opened the inspection under the National Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation. The company was issued two willful violations for failing to ensure workers were protected from cave-in hazards while working in a trench deeper than 5 feet and failing to support the street pavement above the trench from collapsing on the workers. See the news release for more information.

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New York tire retreader faces $160,280 in OSHA fines for failing to correct fire, mechanical and electrical hazards

American Made Tires, an Elmira Heights, N.Y., tire retreader, failed to correct 12 hazards cited during a 2013 inspection. Because of that inaction, and the discovery of new and recurring hazards during a follow-up OSHA inspection, the company faces an additional $160,280 in proposed fines.

“The company’s inaction exposed employees to ongoing hazards of fire, falls, chemicals and to being caught in or crushed by unguarded or unexpectedly activated machinery,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “The sizable penalties proposed reflect the severity of these conditions and the employer’s failure to follow through on its obligation and commitment to correct hazards that never should have existed.”

OSHA’s follow-up inspection in November 2013 found violations including improperly constructed flammable adhesive spray booths, failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures and lack of machine guarding. Read the news release for more information.

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Semiannual regulatory agenda published

The Office of Management and Budget has published the Spring 2014 unified agenda. The agenda lists regulatory actions now in development and under consideration by each federal agency, providing information about each rule and its stage of development. OSHA’s updated agenda includes projected timelines for several safety and health standards. For more information, view the DOL Spring 2014 Agency Rule List from www.reginfo.gov.

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OSHA and the American Staffing Association form alliance to protect temporary workers

Protecting Temporary Workers

OSHA signed an alliance with the American Staffing Association May 21 to work together to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.

“We want to make sure that at the end of every work shift, all temporary workers in the United States are able to go home safely to their families,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Through this alliance with the ASA, we will increase outreach to staffing agencies and host employers and provide information and education that is vital to protecting temporary workers.”

Through the alliance, OSHA and ASA will conduct outreach to workers about their rights, and work to educate staffing firms and their clients that all workers have the right to be safe, regardless of how long they have been on the job. The partners will work together to distribute OSHA guidance and additional information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards, and to further develop ways of communicating such information to staffing firms, host employers and temporary workers. See the news release and read about OSHA’s Alliance Program for more information.

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Assistant Secretary Michaels addresses oil and gas industry leaders at annual onshore drilling conference

Dr. David Michaels addresses the International Association of Drilling Contractors.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels addresses worker safety and OSHA’s outreach to the oil and gas industry at the International Association of Drilling Contractors’ annual onshore drilling conference.

On May 15, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels traveled to Houston to discuss workplace safety with stakeholders attending the International Association of Drilling Contractors’ annual onshore drilling conference. Michaels joined an industry panel to speak about OSHA’s extensive outreach to the oil and gas industry, which included numerous safety stand-downs, conferences and consultations through OSHA’s free on-site consultation program. Michaels also expressed concern about the increase in the number of fatalities in oil and gas production in 2013 and asked industry employers to make worker safety a priority.

Dr. Michaels observes a demonstration of an oil rig drilling operations simulator.
OSHA’s Dr. David Michaels observes a demonstration of an oil rig drilling operations simulator used by BP to train workers in workplace problem solving.

Dr. Michaels also met with BP senior officials to encourage their continued support of the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network; OSHA’s silica workgroup; and industry safety stand-downs. He also thanked BP leaders for the corporation’s efforts to protect workers, including cleanup workers, following the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and oil spill in 2010.

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NIOSH seeks help to characterize risks during chemical flowback in oil and gas extraction

Flowback Tanks
Flowback Tanks (NIOSH photo)

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is requesting assistance from oil and gas stakeholders to better characterize the types and magnitude of risks for exposing workers to volatile chemicals during oil and gas extraction. NIOSH is also seeking recommendations for developing and implementing exposure controls.

A new blog on NIOSH’s website summarizes flowback operations, addresses related reports of recent worker deaths, and identifies preliminary recommendations to reduce the potential for hazardous exposures. NIOSH is focusing interest on this subject after learning about several worker deaths associated with flowback operations through media reports, OSHA officials and members of the academic community.

For safety and health resources and information about the oil and gas industry, visit OSHA’s Oil and Gas Extraction Web page.

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“Deadly Dust” video wins award for getting out the message on silicosis

Deadly Dust video

“Deadly Dust,” an OSHA educational video on the hazards of silica exposure, won first place in the safety category in an international competition to find the best business communications videos.

OSHA’s nine-minute documentary-style video puts a face on the debilitating and fatal effects of silicosis through images of construction workers on the job. Interviews with doctors, OSHA officials, safety consultants, stone carvers and others provide additional information on the disease and safety measures to prevent it. Visit OSHA’s silica rulemaking Web page for more information and the Department of Labor’s YouTube channel to watch this and other videos on protecting the safety and health of America’s workers.

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New educational resources available to protect workers from heat illness and falls

Fall prevention booklet

New and updated materials for OSHA’s Fall Prevention and Heat Illness campaigns are now available. OSHA’s Fall Prevention Training Guide includes lesson plans, or “toolbox talks” in English or Spanish to help employers protect workers from fall hazards on the job. Resources for OSHA’s 2014 campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses in outdoor workers include fact sheets, posters, wallet cards and a training guide.

To order quantities of these or any other OSHA materials, visit OSHA’s Publications Web page or call the Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999.

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OSHA Announces $7 million Available for Grants

Susan Harwood Training Grant Program 2014-05-16 16-30-27

 

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program awards grants to nonprofit organizations on a competitive basis. Awards are issued annually based on Congressional appropriation.

The focus of the program is to provide training and education for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces, and to inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the OSH Act. Target audiences include under-served, low-literacy, and workers in high-hazard industries. Since 1978, over 1.8 million workers have been trained through this program.

 

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Release: 14-832-NAT
Date: May 14, 2014
Contact: Lauren North    Jesse Lawder
Phone: 202-693-4655    202-693-4659
Email: : north.lauren.a@dol.gov    lawder.jesse@dol.gov

$7M for Susan Harwood safety and health training grants
now available from US Labor Department’s OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is soliciting applications under the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program through two separate and distinct announcements. A total of $7 million is available for nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program supports the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs and the development of materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency or are temporary workers. The grants will fund training and education for workers and employers to identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards. Two types of safety and health training grants will be awarded: Targeted Topic Training and Capacity Building; approximately $3.5 million will be available in each grant fund.

“These grants play an important role in ensuring worker safety and health. By providing training to employees on their rights and employers on their responsibilities, the Susan Harwood grants are making sure that workplace safety is the number one priority on any job site,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

Targeted Topic Training grants support the development of quality training materials and programs for addressing workplace hazards and prevention strategies. The Targeted Topic Training grants require applicants to address occupational safety and health topics designated by OSHA. Targeted Topic Training grants may be eligible for one additional follow-on grant, based on satisfactory performance.

Capacity Building grants focus on developing and expanding the capacity of an organization to provide safety and health training, education, and related assistance to target audiences. Grantees are expected to increase occupational safety and health competence and improve organizational capacity to assist workers and employers on an ongoing basis by ensuring that services continue beyond federal financial support. Capacity Building Developmental grant recipients may be eligible for additional 12-month follow-on grants, based on satisfactory performance.

The solicitation for grant applications is available at http://www.grants.gov/, where new applicants must register and returning applicants must ensure registration is accurate and up-to-date prior to completing the application. The registration process generally takes between three to five business days, but may be as long as four weeks if all steps are not completed in a timely manner. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible. Applications for Capacity Building grants (SHTG-FY-14-02) must be submitted by Thursday, June 26, 2014, and Targeted Topic grants (SHTG-FY-14-01) must be submitted by Monday, June 30, 2014. All applications must be submitted electronically and are due no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on each grant’s due date. No extensions of the deadline will be granted.

OSHA has developed a proposal webinar to assist prospective applicants in understanding the application process. The webinar will be available at http://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html all day, every day during the solicitation period.

More information on the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program is available on OSHA’s website at http://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/index.html. Questions from the public should be directed to Heather Wanderski or Jim Barnes by emailing harwoodgrants@dol.gov or calling 847-759-7700. Please note that this is not a toll-free number.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/.

OSHA QuickTakes – December 3, 2012

OSHA QuickTakes

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis visits Staten Island, NY, to highlight efforts to protect workers engaged in Sandy recovery operations

Secretary Solis traveled to some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods of New York City with OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab on Thursday, Nov. 29, to meet with worker groups and others involved in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy and observe some of the recovery efforts that are currently underway. The massive response to the devastation has brought together government, worker advocates, unions, public and private employers, and community and faith-based organizations, and OSHA continues to conduct comprehensive monitoring and training to ensure that workers are protected from the serious health and safety hazards involved in the operations.

Secretary Solis surveys recovery operations with workers from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Nov. 29, 2012
Secretary Solis surveys recovery operations with workers from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Nov. 29, 2012. Click here to view the slideshow of Secretary Solis’ visit.

 

OSHA distributes safety information at locations where workers typically gather to prepare recovery efforts, such as this big-box retail store
OSHA distributes safety information at locations where workers typically gather to prepare recovery efforts, such as this big-box retail store.

With workers still at risk of serious safety and health hazards, these efforts remain extremely urgent. OSHA is focused on high hazard operations such as debris removal, utility restoration, and clearing trees, conducting interventions that have reached more than 15,000 workers, with an emphasis on limited-English-proficiency and vulnerable workers. OSHA is distributing information on some of the most common safety and health hazards workers face, including (PDFs*) downed electrical wires*, chain saws*, chipper machines*, portable generators*, mold* and falls*.

All of these materials are collected at a single site: Keeping Workers Safe during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup and Recovery, which is also available in Spanish. Two new fact sheets have been recently added to the website and are being distributed to workers and employers: Keeping Workers Safe during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup and Recovery Fact Sheet (PDF*, available in Spanish*) and the Hurricane Sandy Cleanup PPE Matrix Fact Sheet (PDF*). The site also includes OSHA’s Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix, which provides information on many of the tasks and operations associated with disaster response and recovery and the most common and significant hazards that response and recovery workers might encounter. The matrix is designed to help employers make decisions during their risk assessments that will protect their workers doing work in hurricane–impacted areas. To order fact sheets and other hurricane recovery safety and health publications, call OSHA’s Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA’s Publications page.

New director of Office of Whistleblower Protection Program announced

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels has announced Beth Slavet as the new director of the agency’s Office of Whistleblower Protection Programs. Slavet is an experienced administrator and manager with more than 30 years of experience with the enforcement of federal whistleblower statutes. She is the former chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, where she also served as vice chairman and a member from 1995-2003. She has spent the last decade in private practice where she had a special focus on whistleblower protection. For more information, read the news release.

Cast your vote today for the Department of Labor’s Workplace Safety and Health Challenge People’s Choice Award

The submissions are in for the Department of Labor’s Worker Safety and Health Challenge, and now it’s your turn to help us select a winner. The challenge, which closed Nov. 30, sought 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 People’s Choice Award, a $3,000 prize, will be awarded to the submission that receives the most public support during the open public voting period. Just browse the entries at the challenge’s Submissions Gallery between now and Jan. 4 and vote for the tool that you think does the best job of teaching young people about workplace safety and health. Then check back on Jan. 8 for the announcement of all the challenge winners.

Federal Aviation Administration proposes policy to improve flight attendant workplace safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration, working with OSHA, proposed a new policy for addressing flight attendant workplace safety. While the FAA’s aviation safety regulations take precedence, the agency is proposing that OSHA be able to enforce certain occupational safety and health standards currently not covered by FAA oversight.

“The policy announced today with the FAA will not only enhance the health and safety of flight attendants by connecting them directly with OSHA but will, by extension, improve the flying experience of millions of airline passengers,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. Flight attendant workplace issues could include things such as exposure to noise and bloodborne pathogens and access to information on hazardous chemicals. The policy notice has been sent to the Federal Register and is currently available at www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/ashp. The 30-day comment period begins when the policy notice is published. For more information, see the news release.

New OSHA website provides information on preventing backover incidents in construction

New OSHA website provides information on preventing backover incidents in construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. These incidents can be prevented. OSHA has published a new Preventing Backovers webpage that provides information about the hazards of backovers; solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents; articles and resources; and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.

Dover Chemical Co. placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program following chemical release at Ohio plant

After an unexpected release of hazardous materials that led to the temporary shut-down of Dover Chemical Co. and an adjacent highway in Ohio in May, OSHA has cited the company for 47 health and safety violations. Although no injuries were reported as a result of the incident, OSHA opened an investigation focused on the agency’s standards for process safety management, known as PSM, at facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals. Proposed fines total $545,000.

The release of materials resulted from a breach of a polyvinyl chloride piping system. Due to the nature of the hazards and four willful violations cited, Dover Chemical has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Willful violations include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits, not resolving recommendations identified during a process hazard analysis, having operating procedures that do not include the consequences for deviation or the steps required to correct or avoid deviation from operating limits, and process safety information that does not detail the construction materials used for piping and piping system components. For more information, see the press release.

OSHA cites Dallas company for safety violations following robbery, death of worker at Garland, Texas, convenience store

OSHA has cited TMT Inc. for four serious safety violations following an aggravated robbery that resulted in the death of an employee at the company’s Whip In convenience store in Garland. OSHA’s Dallas Area Office opened an investigation at the Garland store in May after an employee working at the checkout counter was seriously assaulted during a robbery and later died from second- and third-degree burns. OSHA also investigated the company’s three other stores in Dallas and Mesquite, and found that workers at those locations were exposed to the same or similar workplace violence hazards. Each store was cited with violating OSHA’s “general duty clause” for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. Read the press release for details.

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening and disruptive behavior that occurs at a work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. More information on workplace violence is available at OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence.

OSHA cites Cargill Meat Solutions for exposing workers to hazardous energy at Illinois plant, proposes $114,000 in fines

OSHA has cited Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. with three safety violations for failing to protect workers from unexpected start-up of machines at its Beardstown pork processing facility. Proposed penalties total $114,000. OSHA initiated an inspection upon receiving a complaint alleging hazards.

OSHA cited Cargill for one willful violation for exposing employees to hazardous energy when performing servicing and maintenance tasks because the energy control procedures did not outline specific procedural steps for shutting down and securing machinery, placing and removing lockout or tagout devices, and providing a specific means to verify that the equipment was isolated from all energy sources prior to work on the equipment. The company was also cited for one repeat violation for failing to train workers who operate equipment on procedures to properly control hazardous energy. A similar violation was cited in May 2009 at the company’s Nebraska City, Neb., facility. See the press release for more information.

Harrison Hoist, Inc. cited by OSHA following crane collapse at UT Dallas that killed two workers

OSHA has cited Harrison Hoist Inc. of Grand Prairie with six serious safety violations following a tower crane collapse at the University of Texas at Dallas’ Richardson campus that killed two workers. The workers were trying to remove the top portion of the crane’s mast when it collapsed, causing them to fall more than 150 feet.

The violations include the company’s failure to address the hazards associated with the effects of wind speed and weather on the equipment, ensure that procedures for disassembling the tower crane prevented the collapse of any part of the equipment, adequately support and stabilize all parts of the equipment, ensure that disassembly procedures positioned workers to minimize their exposure to unintended movement or collapse, ensure that disassembly procedures were developed by a qualified person, and train each competent person and each qualified person regarding the requirements of 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926 Subpart CC “Cranes and Derricks in Construction” that are applicable to their respective roles. For details, read the news release. More information on crane safety is available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/cranehoistsafety/index.html.

NACOSH and ACCSH meet in Washington, D.C., to provide recommendations on OSHA policies and procedures

On Thursday, Nov. 29, Dr. Michaels addressed the full committee of OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, highlighting current safety and health trends in the construction industry and recent OSHA initiatives, including OSHA’s ongoing fall prevention campaign. In conjunction with the full committee meeting, ACCSH workgroups met Nov. 27-28 to discuss Health Hazards, Emerging Issues, Prevention through Design, Diversity/Multilingual/Women in Construction, Training and Outreach, Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, and Backing Operations. OSHA’s Director of Construction Jim Maddux also provided an update to committee members on current regulatory initiatives.

OSHA's Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health
Committee members at the Nov. 29, 2012, meeting of OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health.

 

The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health also met in November. The committee meets twice annually to advise the secretaries of labor and health and human services on worker safety. During the two-day meeting, the committee’s Effectiveness Measures Work Group furnished recommendations on measuring the efficacy of OSHA strategies, programs and actions and sent a report to the full committee membership. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jordan Barab spoke on the meeting’s second day, including agency initiatives and a new project with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreement intended to enhance patient and worker safety.

Labor Department officials visit Beijing for landmark dialogue on worker safety and health

On Nov. 14, Chinese workplace safety and health officials hosted the First U.S.-China Workplace Safety and Health Dialogue in Beijing. The historic conference brought together officials from China’s State Administration of Work Safety to exchange ideas and information about protecting workers on both sides of the Pacific. Dr. Michaels presented an overview of workplace safety and health standards and compliance assistance in the United States. He spoke about the importance of understanding and shaping modern worker safety and health programs and their added benefits to trade and economic growth. Bill Perry of OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance also presented; he addressed current OSHA strategies to reduce or eliminate toxic and hazardous substance hazards.

The dialogue was co-chaired by SAWS Vice Minister Sun Huashan and Mark Mittlehauser, Associate Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs. The conference celebrated ten years of previous cooperation on coal mine safety and health, with Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main delivering remarks. This year’s conference marked the beginning of efforts to move beyond mining and forge a way forward on collaborating to protect workers in other industries.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels addresses 2012 Susan Harwood Training Program grantees

Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients
Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients attend a session of the 2012 program orientation. For more photos of the event, visit the Department of Labor’s Flickr page.

At an orientation for all Susan Harwood Training Grant recipients held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 29, Dr. Michaels thanked representatives of the nonprofit organizations who have received grants to conduct worker safety and health training, adding “we’re counting on you.” Dr. Henry Payne, OSHA’s Director of Training and Education, welcomed the grantees to the event and introduced Dr. Michaels, and Irasema Garza, Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Labor and Acting Assistant Secretary of Policy, paid a visit to greet the attendees. In the morning session of the orientation, representatives from four grantees shared success stories of delivering effective training to vulnerable workers. Later, the attendees attended breakout sessions on program, financial and monitoring requirements.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program awards grants to nonprofit organizations on a competitive basis. The focus of the program is to provide training and education for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces, and to inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the OSH Act. Target audiences include underserved, low-literacy, and workers in high-hazard industries. Since 1978, over 1.8 million workers have been trained through this program.

Injury and illness rates substantially reduced at Kan. grain handling operation after working with OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program

After experiencing injury and illnesses rates that were higher than the national average, Farmway Cooperative, Inc. of Beloit, Kan., contacted the Kansas On-site Consultation Program, a division of the Kansas Department of Labor, to help the grain handling company implement an effective safety and health management system. During the initial On-site Consultation visit, the KDOL consultant identified hazards regarding fall protection, inadequate machine guarding and improper documentation within their written safety and health procedures. Farmway immediately took action to address these hazards by placing machine guards on equipment and correcting railing issues to prevent falls. Additionally, Farmway created a safety committee, which included management and employees, to review and discuss safety issues on a monthly basis.

Farmway

After these changes were implemented, Farmway achieved a nearly 50 percent reduction in the number of injuries and illnesses at its 19 worksites, earning it recognition in OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, which recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. “Working with KDOL consultants helped bring our company to the next level of safety awareness, which in turn changed our safety culture within Farmway,” said David Edwards, Farmway’s Safety Director this fall. “Our dollar value of workman’s compensation has been reduced.” To learn more, visit Farmway’s Small Business Success Stories page.

OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. As part of OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program, highly qualified safety and health professionals from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

OSHA releases fact sheet on internal combustion engines as ignition sources

Investigations by OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) have documented a history of fires and explosions at workplaces (oilfields, refineries, chemical plants, and other facilities) where an internal combustion engine was identified as or suspected to be the source of ignition. Internal combustion engines present an ignition hazard when used in facilities processing flammable liquids and gases. If flammable vapors or gases are released in these facilities, an internal combustion engine could ignite the flammable materials with catastrophic consequences. OSHA’s new Internal Combustion Engines as Ignition Sources Fact Sheet (PDF*) helps employers and workers understand the risks involved in the use of internal combustion engines, as well as some of the control strategies that should be used to prevent such catastrophic events.

Three workers were killed and four injured in a fire resulting from a runaway diesel engine (Source: Chemical Safety Board)
Three workers were killed and four injured in a fire resulting from a runaway diesel engine (Source: Chemical Safety Board).

 

New educational resource on healthcare worker, patient safety

On November 20, the Joint Commission released a new, free educational resource, “Improving Patient and Worker Safety: Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration and Innovation.” The purpose of this resource is to raise awareness and educate health care managers, employers and employees on the need for a healthcare culture focused on the safety of both patients and the workers who care for them.

The monograph contends that high rates of injuries and illnesses among health care workers serve as a warning that the health care environment as a whole must be transformed in order to improve safety. The monograph highlights examples of health care organization practices that address patient and worker safety simultaneously and the benefits and potential cost savings attained through collaboration between employee and patient safety departments. The monograph also identifies functional management systems and processes, strategies and tools that have been used to successfully integrate health and safety activities. For more information, read the monograph in full and visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page on Healthcare.

Center for Construction Research and Training launches online resource to help workers and employers identify and control silica dust

A new online resource from the Center for Construction Research and Training provides information and tools to help identify silica hazards, understand the health risk, and easily find equipment and methods to control the dust. The site also features a “Create a Plan” tool that generates job-specific silica control plans based on user responses to a series of questions about the tasks that will be performed and the materials that will be used. The new resource is available at www.silica-safe.org.

Common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock, and stone products (such as in construction operations), and operations using sand products (such as in glass manufacturing, foundries, and sand blasting), can result in worker inhalation of small silica particles in the air. Inhalation of these particles has long been known to cause silicosis, a disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease. More information is available at OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Safety and Health Topics page.

A call to Action: Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on tragic fire in Bangladesh

Secretary Solis issued the following statement regarding the tragic Nov. 24 fire in Bangladesh:

“This past Saturday, Bangladesh suffered one of the worst industrial accidents in its history. A devastating fire swept through the Tazreen Fashion garment factory, killing more than 100 and injuring many more. I join U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena in extending heartfelt condolences to the people of Bangladesh and the many families who lost their loved ones.

“Just over a century ago, in March 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City burned to the ground, killing 146 people, mainly young women. That fire was our call to action. It galvanized support for stronger worker protections and institutions to enforce them, from workplace health and safety to workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

“The Tazreen Fashion factory fire is a similar call to action for Bangladesh and also for the many international buyers supplied by the country’s garment factories. Investigations should be conducted and the perpetrators punished, but things cannot then return to business as usual. I know that change is not easy. The U.S. Department of Labor stands ready to help, with technical assistance and expertise, to work with the government of Bangladesh to ensure that this horrific tragedy becomes a watershed moment for Bangladeshi workers’ rights.”

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