OSHA Quick Takes – November 2009

OSHA issues crowd control guidelines for protecting workers during retail sales events

OSHA has published a fact sheet providing crowd control guidelines for retailers to protect workers during major sales events. Last year, a worker was trampled to death while a mob of shoppers rushed through the doors of a large store to take advantage of an after Thanksgiving Day “Black Friday” sales event. The store was not using the kind of crowd control measures recommended in the fact sheet. Following the recommendations will help avoid worker injuries during the holiday shopping season.

OSHA issues compliance directive to address flu prevention for health care workers

OSHA issued a compliance directive Nov. 20 to ensure uniform procedures when conducting inspections to identify and minimize or eliminate high to very high risk occupational exposures to the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus. The directive closely follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Healthcare Settings, Including Protection of Healthcare Personnel.” To learn more, read news release and directive.

OSHA welcomes GAO report on under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses

A new Government Accountability Office report released Nov. 16 on injury and illness recordkeeping found evidence that OSHA’s current audit process needs improvement and certain incentive and discipline programs can discourage workers from reporting injuries and illnesses. The report also notes widespread reports from occupational health practitioners who were pressured not to record an injury or illness. In response to studies of under-reporting and congressional interest, OSHA recently announced a major Recordkeeping National Emphasis Program to ensure that injuries and illnesses are accurately reported. Because accurate data is needed to enable OSHA to better target its resources and determine the effectiveness of its efforts, Secretary Solis welcomed the fin dings and assured the GAO that we will comply with the report’s recommendations.

Agency promotes H1N1 worker precaution and protection

OSHA issued fact sheets about H1N1 that employers and workers can use to promote safety during the current H1N1 flu outbreak. The fact sheets offer ways to minimize work-related risks of exposure to the H1N1 virus. Visit the “Workplace Safety and H1N1” Web page for more details.

Agency issues final rule revising its acetylene standard

The final rule revising OSHA’s Acetylene Standard became effective Nov. 9. The rule replaces references to outdated industry standards with updated references reflecting current industry practices. Read the Nov. 10 Federal Register for more information.

Stakeholder meetings addressing combustible dust hazards are scheduled

The proposed rule to address combustible dust hazards will be discussed during informal meetings between OSHA and interested stakeholders Dec. 14, 2009, in Washington, D.C. The meetings begin at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel at Metro Center. View the Nov. 10 Federal Register for guidance on how to participate.

OSHA Training Institute Education Centers Program helps promote safer and more healthful workplaces

Workplaces continue to grow safer and more healthful everyday because of the OTI Education Centers Program. During fiscal 2009, nearly 31,000 students were trained and more than 2,000 classes were offered by 25 centers. The OTI Education Centers are a national network of nonprofit organizations authorized by OSHA to provide occupational safety and health training on behalf of OTI. To learn more, visit the Directorate of Training and Education’s Web page.

OSHA employee authors article promoting firefighter safety

Increasing the safety of firefighters is the focus of an article authored by OSHA’s Mat Chibbaro, P.E., in a recent edition of “Sprinkler Age” magazine. Chibbaro outlines ways that designers and installers can integrate features into sprinkler and standpipe systems that will help to keep these firefighters safe during emergency operations. Read the article for details. This was a cooperative effort under OSHA’s alliance with the American Fire Sprinkler Association.

OSHA area office to enhance worker safety and health at upcoming “Safety Fests”

OSHA’s Boise, Idaho, Area Office has joined with several Idaho corporations and state and federal government agencies to present “Safety Fests of the Great Northwest,” safety and health training conferences and exhibitions, in Boise, Jan. 26-29, 2010, and Post Falls, Idaho, Feb. 23-26. Numerous course offerings are available on topics such as combustible dust, fall protection, lockout/tagout and recordkeeping. All sessions are free. To register, visit the Safety Fest of the Great Northwest Web site.

Calumet City, Ill., Area Office completes Voluntary Protection Programs on-site evaluation

The Calumet City, Ill., Area Office is the latest office in OSHA’s Region V to complete its on-site evaluation as part of the VPP application process. The on-site evaluation was conducted by a team of Special Government Employees. Currently, more than half of the region’s area offices have attained VPP recognition.

OSHA reminds VPP participants about process safety management questionnaire

Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) participants whose worksites fall under federal jurisdiction and whose operations are covered by OSHA’s process safety management standard will receive a questionnaire that must be completed and included with annual self-evaluations. Evaluations are due Feb. 15, 2010. For more information, contact your OSHA Regional VPP Manager.

‘QuickTips’ on preventing cold-related injuries and illnesses

The calendar says it is almost winter, so OSHA is reminding employers and workers, whose work is concentrated outside, to take the necessary precautions to prevent cold-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA’s “Cold Stress Pocket Card” (English/Spanish) provides recommendations on protecting workers in cold environments. Electronic copies can be downloaded from the agency’s publications page, or printed copies can be ordered online or by calling 202-693-1888.

Department of Labor news and job openings

For more Department of Labor news, see DOL’s electronic newsletter. Are you interested in a career with DOL? The department has job opportunities throughout the country such as an opening in OSHA for a health scientist.

Editor: Elaine Fraser, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999
For more information on occupational safety and health, visit OSHA’s Web site.
Visit OSHA’s “QuickTakes” page to view previous issues.

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