OSHA Quick Takes – December 2009

In This Issue

Assistant Secretary Michaels promotes worker safety at green jobs conference

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels was a featured speaker at the Dec. 14-16 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Making Green Jobs Safe: Integrating Occupational Safety and Health into Green and Sustainability conference in Washington, D.C. Dr. Michaels stressed that whether a workplace is involved in manufacturing solar panels, erecting wind turbines, reducing emissions or recovering hazardous materials, employers must be made to understand that green jobs workplace hazards exist and can injure and kill. NIOSH, OSHA and other organizations have partnered to raise awareness, provide guidance, and address occupational safety and health issues associated with green jobs. Read Dr. Michaels’ speech on OSHA’s Web site. For more information about green jobs safety and health, visit NIOSH’s Web site.

Workers die in grain bins from preventable hazards

A 17-year-old high school student suffocated after being engulfed by grain at a Tempel Grain Elevators facility in Haswell, Colo. He was one of four teenagers hired to clean out grain bins. While the workers were inside the bins, mechanical systems were still operating. This allowed grain to flow downward out of the bin, creating grain movement that drew the teen worker into the grain. Tempel Grain violated long-established standards addressing safety in grain handling facilities. Violations included not providing the workers with protection from engulfment, such as safety harnesses or lifelines. The company did not station anyone equipped to provide assistance to observe these young workers while they were inside the bins. OSHA proposed $1.6 million in penalties for these safety and health violations. Read the news release for more details.
Another worker suffocated from lack of oxygen in the boot pit of a concrete grain elevator operated by Farmers Union Coop Supply Co. of Stanton, Neb. The employer did not test the atmosphere for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the boot pit before the worker entered the space. OSHA proposed more than $120,000 in fines for willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Read the news release for more information.

Save the date: National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety slated for April 14-15, 2010

OSHA is sponsoring a National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety on April 14-15, 2010, in Houston. The conference, co-sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and other government agencies, will showcase effective partnerships between government, consulates, faith and community groups/worker centers; successful on-the-job programs; and education programs and materials targeted to a low literacy, Spanish-speaking worker population. The event will focus on construction and other industries with large numbers of Hispanic workers. More information and online registration will be available in January. Visit OSHA’s Web site for updates.

Alliance aims to promote labor rights of Mexican and other Hispanic workers

Promoting the labor and human rights of Mexican and other Hispanic Workers is the focus of a new alliance formed Dec. 10 among OSHA, Wage and Hour Division, Consulate General of Mexico in New York, New York State Department of Labor, and Catholic Migration Office of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. Alliance participants will support a call center that provides Mexican and Hispanic workers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut education, guidance and assistance about their workplace rights. Read the news release for details.

Construction advisory committee discusses workplace safety and health issues

The Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, created by the Construction Safety Act to advise the Secretary of Labor, and its work groups met Dec. 8-11, 2009, in Washington, D.C. Many members of the public, press and industry participated. The committee recommended OSHA continue rulemaking designed to improve worker safety health. Its work groups, such as silica, multi-lingual and residential fall protection, refocused their energies to support revised agency priorities. They encourage public participation from unions, businesses and the safety and health arena in the process of addressing worker safety and health. Future meetings will be announced in the Federal Register. Transcripts, minutes and exhibits from previous meetings can be found on OSHA’s Docket Office Web page.

OSHA compliance assistance helps employers enhance worker safety and health

In fiscal 2009, OSHA provided on-site assistance to more than 30,000 small businesses that employ 3.7 million workers. OSHA encourages employers to use the agency’s free, on-site consultation service and other compliance assistance services and products to help them comply with OSHA requirements and prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Compliance assistance resources on OSHA’s Web site include eTools addressing construction, medical and chemical safety issues, along with training materials including videos and a library of reference materials. Visit OSHA’s compliance assistance Web page for further information about on-site consultation.

‘QuickTips’ for workers on safe work practices

As 2010 approaches, OSHA stresses making workplace safety and health a top priority for workers. There are numerous products, such as QuickCards, fact sheets and guidance documents, on OSHA’s publications Web page that show workers how to stay safe and healthy on the job through fall protection, chemical hazard awareness and machine guarding. Learn valuable information on a variety of topics in different industries through OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. Information on specific workplace hazards and individual industries are included in OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics Web pages. Visit OSHA’s Web site for additional information on workplace safety.

Department of Labor newsletter and job openings

Are you interested in a career with DOL? The department has job opportunities throughout the country, such as openings in OSHA for engineers, health scientists, and safety and occupational health specialists. For more Department of Labor news, see DOL’s electronic newsletter.

Season’s Greetings!

OSHA wishes you and yours happy holidays and a safe, healthful and prosperous new year. QuickTakes will not be published on Jan. 1, so please continue to visit the agency’s Web site for news and updates. Look for your next issue of QuickTakes on Jan. 15, 2010.

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