“Employer In Fatal Boston Trench Collapse Did Not Provide Safety Training & Basic Safeguards For Employees, OSHA Finds”

Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc. cited for 18 violations

BOSTON – Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks died on Oct. 21, 2016, in Boston, when the approximately 12-foot deep trench in which they were working collapsed, breaking an adjacent fire hydrant supply line and filling the trench with water in a matter of seconds.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that their employer, Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc., failed to provide basic safeguards against collapse and did not train its employees – including Higgins and Mattocks – to recognize and avoid cave-in and other hazards.

“The deaths of these two men could have and should have been prevented. Their employer, which previously had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions, knew what safeguards were needed to protect its employees but chose to ignore that responsibility,” said Galen Blanton, OSHA’s New England regional administrator.

OSHA’s inspection determined that Atlantic Drain and owner Kevin Otto, who oversaw the work on the day of the fatalities, did not:

–       Install a support system to protect employees in an approximately 12-foot deep trench from a cave-in and prevent the adjacent fire hydrant from collapsing.

–       Remove employees from the hazardous conditions in the trench.

–       Train the workers in how to identify and address hazards associated with trenching and excavation work.

–       Provide a ladder at all times so employees could exit the trench.

–       Support structures next to the trench that posed overhead hazards.

–       Provide employees with hardhats and eye protection.

As a result, OSHA has cited Atlantic Drain for a total of 18 willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing $1,475,813 in penalties for those violations. OSHA cited Atlantic Drain trenching worksites for similar hazards in 2007 and 2012. The full citations can be viewed here.

In February, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Atlantic Drain and company owner, Kevin Otto, on two counts each of manslaughter and other charges in connection with the deaths. OSHA and the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor worked with the department’s Office of the Inspector General, the Boston Police Department’s Homicide Unit and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office during the course of this investigation.

Atlantic Drain has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to meet with OSHA’s area director, and to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, if it chooses to do so.

The walls of an unprotected trench can collapse suddenly and with great force, trapping and engulfing workers before they have a chance to react or escape. Protection against cave-in hazards may be provided through shoring of the trench walls, sloping the soil, or by using a protective trench box. Employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards. More information about protecting employees in trenches and excavations can be found here and here.

“We want to emphasize to all employers that trenching hazards can have catastrophic consequences if they are not addressed effectively before employees enter a trench,” said Blanton.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the nearest OSHA Area Office.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful working conditions 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.

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Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov
James C. Lally, 617-565-2074, lally.james.c@dol.gov

Release Number:  17-413-BOS

Here Is WHY Trenching Safety Training IS Required!

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“Top 5 OSHA Issues to Track in 2017″ Webinar” @OSHA_Guy

Presented by Eric J. Conn, Kate McMahon, Amanda Strainis-Walker, Micah Smith, Lindsay DiSalvo and Dan Deacon

The ball has dropped, the confetti has been swept out of Times Square, and 2016 is in the books.  It’s time to look back at the year and take stock of what we learned from and about OSHA over the past year.  More importantly, the question on everyone’s mind (well, maybe just ours), is what can we expect from OSHA in the first year of the Trump Administration?  In this webinar event, attorneys from the national OSHA Practice Group at Conn Maciel Carey will review OSHA enforcement, rulemaking, and other developments from 2016, and will discuss the Top 5 OSHA Issues employers should monitor and prepare for in the New Year.

Participants will learn the following:

  • 2016 OSHA enforcement data and trends and rulemaking achievements

  • Important OSHA developments from 2016

  • Major OSHA rulemaking and other developments to expect during the Trump Administration’s inaugural year

  • Other significant OSHA policy issues to watch out for in the New Year

Click here for a complete list of Conn Maciel Carey OSHA Webinars for 2017

safety, safety training

“Reminder: Are You In Compliance With OSHA’s New Construction Confined Space Standard?”

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Most employers in the construction industry already know that OSHA issued a new confined space standard for construction that became effective on August 3, 2015. Companies with employees who enter confined spaces at construction sites must be sure to understand the new regulation and adjust their processes in order to remain in compliance. Although the new standard has been in effect for six months, this blog provides a reminder on some of the key provisions of which employers should be aware.

As background, OSHA used to just have a confined space standard for general industry employers (29 CFR 1910.146). However, in recognition that construction sites often host multiple employers and are continually changing, with the number and nature of confined spaces changing as work progresses, OSHA promulgated a new standard, available at 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200, tailored to the unique characteristics of construction sites.

While the general industry standard and the construction standard have many similarities, some key differences are:

The construction standard requires coordination when there are multiple employers at the worksite. Specifically, the construction standard imposes duties on three types of employers because of the recognition that different workers may perform different activities in the same space, which can result in hidden dangers:

Entry employers. This is defined as an employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit space. Entry employers have a duty to inform controlling contractors (defined below) of any hazards encountered in a permit space. Entry employers also have to develop safe entry procedures.

Host employers. This is defined as the employer who owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place. If the host employer has information about permit space hazards, it must share that information with the controlling contractor (defined below) and then the controlling contractor is responsible for sharing that information with the entry employers.

Controlling contractor. This is defined as the employer with overall responsibility for construction at the worksite. The controlling contractor is responsible for coordinating entry operations when there is more than one entry employer. Controlling contractors must provide any information they have about any permit space hazards to all entry employers.

The controlling contractor is also responsible for coordinating work in and around confined spaces so that no contractor working at the site will create a hazard inside the confined space. After the entry employer performs entry operations, the controlling contractor must debrief the entry employer to gather information that the controlling contractor then must share with the host employer and other contractors who enter the space later.

Continuous atmospheric monitoring is required under the construction standard “whenever possible.” In contrast, the general industry standard merely encourages continuous atmospheric monitoring where possible and only requires periodic monitoring as necessary.

The construction standard requires that a “competent person” evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces including permit-required confined spaces.

Notably, the general industry standard does not require that a “competent person” complete this task. A “competent person” is defined under the new standard as someone who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards associated with working conditions, including, of course, whether a workspace is permit-required.

Employers who perform construction-related activities need to make sure they understand the requirements of the new confined space construction standard. For more information, download : Confined Space in Construction: OSHA 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200 here: https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/1926_subpart_aa.pdf or consult with your Seyfarth attorney.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw : Evironmental Safety Update / Law Blog

http://www.environmentalsafetyupdate.com/osha-compliance/are-you-in-compliance-with-oshas-new-confined-space-standard-for-the-construction-industry/

 

 

“Trump Signs Repeal of Volks Rule: Workers Lose”

President Trump yesterday signed the resolution repealing the Volks rule, thereby permanently removing OSHA’s ability to cite patterns of injury and illness recordkeeping violations.  The resolution, passed under the Congressional Review Act, is yet another step in the Administration’s goal of deconstruction the administrative state, or as the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne explained recently:

In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs, and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected, and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away.

The Senate voted, 50-48 to repeal the Volks rule, and the House voted 231 – 191 last month to repeal the rule.

Employers are still required to retain accurate injury and illness records for 5 years, but there is no way now for OSHA to enforce any violations that are older than 6 months from the time a citation is issued. This means, effectively, that there will be no more large OSHA recordkeeping cases similar to those which throughout OSHA history — in Democratic and Republican administrations — have impacted entire industries.

See the rest of this post at Jordan Barab’s, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009-17 Website “Confined Spaces”

Note: As always, I am providing Workplace Safety & Health Information to my fellow Safety professionals. The above article and others by Mr. Barab have some very valid points. Read and you decide. Political comments will not be replied to. Workplace Safety is not a Political Issue. ~JB

“Excavation & Trenching Safety” #ConstructionSafety @StopThinkPrevnt

Trenching and Excavation Safety

Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Dangers of Trenching and Excavation
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.

Protect Yourself
Do not enter an unprotected trench! Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be de-signed by a registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/ or approved by a registered professional engineer.

Protective Systems
There are different types of protective systems. Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation. Shoring requires installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave ins. Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins. Designing a protective system can be complex because you must consider many factors: soil classification, depth of cut, water content of soil, changes due to weather or climate, surcharge loads (eg., spoil, other materials to be used in the trench) and other operations in the vicinity.

Competent Person

OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.

Access and Egress
OSHA requires safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. These devices must be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of all workers.

General Trenching and Excavation Rules

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Keep surcharge loads at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
  • Know where underground utilities are located.
  • Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases.
  • Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
  • Inspect trenches following a rainstorm.
  • Do not work under raised loads.

Additional Information
Visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics web page on trenching and excavation at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/ index.html

Highlights

“The OSHA Information Void: Former Official Steps Up”

Why is the former second in command at OSHA publishing news about serious OSHA enforcement cases? Keep reading to learn more.

Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA from 2009 to 2017, has rekindled Confined Space, A Newsletter of Workplace Safety and Labor Issues, which he started in the early 2000s. In an introductory post, he noted that motivations for restarting the online publication included “repeals of recently issued OSHA regulations and ‘regulatory reform’ initiatives in the White House and Congress that would remove protections from workers.”

One of Barab’s concerns is that under the Trump administration, OSHA appears to no longer be issuing press releases for significant enforcement cases, as was common during the Obama years.

“OSHA is a very small agency and has to leverage its resources because it can only get to a tiny number of workplaces each year,” says Barab. Issuing a “good press release” not only impacts the company that was cited, but also gets the attention of businesses in the same geographic area or industry, he claims.

He notes that the Trump administration is continuing to cite and fine employers that run afoul of OSHA regulations. But at the moment, the agency seems to have succumbed to industry pressure to issue fewer press releases that describe enforcement actions. Barab attributes that problem in part to “political paralysis” and notes that Secretary of Labor nominee Alexander Acosta has not yet been confirmed, and there is currently no Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, the post formerly held by David Michaels, PhD.

According to Barab, OSHA was issuing press releases about enforcement cases when proposed penalties reached $70,000 or above when Obama took office in 2008. That figure was then lowered to $40,000. Also, Barab recalls, “We tried to increase the impact by adding more descriptive wording in plain English about what standards were violated.” Press releases from OSHA and other regulatory agencies are read by employers, employees, and serve to inform the media.

Barab says his online newsletter will focus on transparency in an effort to provide the public with information about worker safety that may not be available from other sources.

– See more at: http://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/04/osha-information-void-former-official-steps/#sthash.QucW4fsa.dpuf

Source: BLR

“National Trench Safety Releases Mobile App for the Excavation Industry”

National Trench Safety announced its new NTS Mobile App for the Excavation Construction Industry.

National Trench Safety, LLC (NTS), a Houston-based company specializing in the rental and sales of trench and traffic safety equipment, trench and traffic safety engineering, and OSHA-compliant training classes, officially announced the release of the NTS Mobile App designed specifically for anyone working with Trench and Traffic Safety equipment.

“We’re really pleased to be announcing the rollout of the new NTS Mobile App,” commented Ron Chilton, President of NTS. “We believe we have created a tool with a lot of unique functionality built into this app that will make it a must have item for contractors and their crews. This app is a total handheld resource that contractors should find highly valuable. Our app is not an advertising tool, but rather this app puts all of the specific tools a contractor needs and is required to have on any job site in the palm of his or her hand. One of the features we’re most excited about is the app’s ability to allow a contractor’s Competent Person to complete an electronic excavation daily checklist, to log that checklist for future reference and the ability to print, text and or email those logs.” The NTS Mobile app will also provide real-time access to and the ability to print, text and or email manufacturer’s tabulated data, product depth ratings and weights, OSHA sloping and benching tables, and all relevant OSHA excavation, confined space, and fall protection standards.

“As technology has permeated our industry and culture, it’s made some really unique things possible that weren’t feasible as little as a decade ago,” remarked Chilton. “The NTS Mobile app is the first of a series of technology related services we’ll be introducing over the next year. We also remained committed to bringing new products to the market and have a couple planned product launches for later in the year.”

The NTS Mobile App is currently available on the AppleTM Store for both the iPad and iPhone and will be available for download for Android phones on the GoogleTM Play Store in late February. The app is offered free of charge to users. NTS has several updates planned for the app over the next few months to further enhance the functionality of the app and will be actively seeking feedback from the app’s user community to enhance its value to the construction industry. To learn more about the NTS Mobile App, its features and how to download it please visit us at http://www.ntsafety.com/ntsmobileapp.

National Trench Safety currently has 30 branch locations within the United States. This large national foot print allows NTS to provide its national, regional and local market customers a fully integrated, national branch network delivering unique engineered solutions, the highest level of customer service and the most cost-effective shoring solutions in the industry.

In maintaining its objective of building a nationwide network of trench and traffic safety branches, NTS plans to open several additional branch locations in 2017. For more information about NTS, visit the National Trench Safety website at http://www.ntsafety.com.

“The ABC’s & 1,2,3’s of Fall Protection”

10 Astonishing Facts About Arc Flash - Infographic by Creative Safety Supply
Infographic created by Creative Safety Supply

“OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Final Rule Requirement Implementation Dates “

On November 18, 2016, OSHA finally published a final rule updating the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards for general industry. Percolating since 1990 (55 FR 13360), reopened in 2003 (68 FR 23528) and again in 2010 (75 FR 28862), revisions to the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards were long overdue. OSHA’s 500+ final rule gives employers new options to combat slip, trip and fall hazards (Subpart D) while adding employer requirements to ensure those new options provide for enhanced safety.

It adds a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standard (Subpart I) that specifies employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems and clarifies obligations for several specific industries, including telecommunications, pulp, paper and paperboard mills, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, textiles and sawmills.

The final rule addresses fall protection options (including personal fall protection systems), codifies guidance on rope descent systems, revises requirements for fixed and portable ladders, prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and establishes training requirements on fall hazards and fall protection equipment. OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels stated, “The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries.” OSHA notes the final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which it believes will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

The rule is effective January 17, 2017, but some of the requirements are phased in over time. Phased-in or delayed compliance dates include:

• May 17, 2017

  • Training exposed workers on fall and equipment hazards

• November 20, 2017

  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages

• November 19, 2018

  • Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structure
  • Equipping existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, with a cage, ell, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system

• November 18, 2036

  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet

OSHA estimates the rule will affect 112 million workers at nearly 7 million worksites and will prevent 29 fatalities and over 5800 injuries annually.

Many employers that have been operating under the cover of OSHA interpretive letters and statements in the preambles of the proposed rules because the standards in place were so outdated and/or ill-suited to particular work environments. For them, the final rule offers an opportunity to confirm that their policies are compliant. However, those employers should scrutinize the final rule to ensure the interpretations they were relying on were incorporated and that no additional actions are required.

Some have suggested that Congress may seek to overrule these changes using the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) (5 U.S.C. §§801-808), but that action is risky because the CRA is such a blunt instrument. The CRA can only be used to repeal a regulatory act in its entirety; it cannot be used to amend the regulation. Moreover, repudiation by Congress of a final rule prohibits the agency from issuing a substantially similar rule in the future.

Congress has only used the CRA once—to overrule the ergonomics regulation OSHA adopted at the end of the Clinton Administration. Congress should recognize that the provisions of this final rule are too important to too many employers for it to act reflexively by disapproving the entire rule and prohibiting further action on these issues.

A copy of the final rule is found here. More on the final rule, including OSHA’s Fact Sheet, can be found on OSHA’s website here.

“Forklift Safety: 5 Factors That Reduce Lifting Capacity”

5 Factors That Reduce Lifting Capacity
5 Factors That Reduce Lifting Capacity

The maximum weight data placard on forklifts should never be regarded as the maximum amount able to be lifted. There are several factors that affect the lifting capacity, which is often reduced for various reasons. It is important to remember the lifting capacity is based upon the load center.

Did you know you lose weight-lifting capacity for every one inch beyond the actual load center? It is your responsibility to calculate the load center for any type of attachment used with the truck, including the original one. In addition, each time you switch attachments, it is essential to recalculate the load center and maximum load lift capacity of the forklift.

To learn more about the factors that affect the load center and load capacities, please feel free to continue reading the following infographic presented by Lift Truck Capacity Calculator. We can also provide assistance with determining the load center for a variety of attachments, as well as those that are worn by contacting us directly.

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