“OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations Of 2015”


Free Whitepaper: “10 Tips To Implementing A Lockout / Tagout Program”

Lock out tag out program

10 Tips to Implementing a Lockout/Tagout Program

Your LOTO program must address the hazards that workers face when they place any part of their body near a machine’s point of operation, power transmission apparatus, pinch points, or other moving parts during maintenance and servicing activities. If the machine is not properly shut down and secured, it could unexpectedly start up, release stored energy, move, or cycle, causing crushing injuries, amputations, or even fatal injuries. A well-designed LOTO program can prevent these injuries.

This paper gives you 10 tips for ensuring that your LOTO program is well-designed and effective, and that it avoids some of the more common failure points found in LOTO programs.

Click here to download this free paper today!

Infographic: OSHA’s New Injury Reporting Rule Explained

Beginning on January 1, new requirements for reporting serious work-related injuries and illnesses will take effect. Are you prepared? This BLR infographic shows how to determine whether an injury must be reported to OSHA under the revised rule.
OSHA's New Injury Reporting Rule Explained

OSHA’s New Injury Reporting Rule Explained by Safety.BLR.com

Crane Collapses While Lifting Precast Wall, Killing Worker In The Woodlands, Texas


KTRK TV Report

Chopper Footage

Reporter: Demond Fernandez

A construction worker who was using a crane to lift a large cement wall was killed after that crane collapsed. It happened at the old Garden Ridge on I-45 near The Woodlands which was destroyed by an arsonist last October.

Crews worked all afternoon to lift the large crane from its side. The operator had been trapped in the machine’s cab for several hours.

It’s a disturbing image of a crane toppled over that had a group of worried spectators watching and waiting several hours for help at a construction site near The Woodlands.

Sgt. Joe Smart with the Conroe Police Department said, “It looks like it pinned the cab where the operator sits under the weight of the crane.”

Emergency workers who rushed to the scene couldn’t immediately rescue the crane operator, who has been identified as Luis Ruiz. Police say the man was among a group of contractors on this site rebuilding the Garden Ridge that burned down last year.

Deena Nicholson of The Woodlands said, “It’s really, really sad. It just seems like help is taking so long.”

Eyewitnesses told police something just went wrong.

“It looks like he was lifting one of these concrete walls to begin construction of this building, and I’m told it was the first wall of the new building,” said Sgt. Smart.

The crane operator was trapped inside the cab for nearly five hours before help finally arrived. Police say they were waiting for large trucks and heavy equipment to lift the machine. As for the crane operator, sadly investigators say this accident appears to be tragic.

Family members tell me the operator’s been in construction for about 40 years. They call him a devoted husband and father.

OSHA Investigators were headed to the scene to investigate.

Source: KTRK

OSHA Information
Compliance Assistance

Final Rule


Stakeholder Outreach


OSHA Expands Pilot Chemical Facilities Process Safety Emphasis Program Nationwide


By Greg Hellman from Occupational Safety & Health Reporter™

The pilot chemical facilities emphasis program has been expanded nationwide in an effort to reduce catastrophic releases of hazardous chemicals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Nov. 30.

The pilot emphasis program had been operating in OSHA Regions I (Boston), VII (Kansas City, Mo.), and X (Seattle), but the initiative covers all the regions effective Nov. 29, the date of the new directive (41 OSHR 631, 7/21/11).

“Far too many workers are injured and killed in preventable incidents at chemical facilities around the country,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in a Nov. 30 written statement. “This program will enable OSHA inspectors to cover chemical facilities nationwide to ensure that all required measures are taken to protect workers.”

OSHA will target chemical facilities for inspection based on four sources of information: the Environmental Protection Agency’s risk management program, explosives manufacturing industry classification codes, its own inspection database, and area office knowledge of local facilities, the directive said.

Number of Programmed Inspections Reduced

The agency has made some changes as it makes the program nationwide. OSHA is reducing the number of programmed inspections each area office must conduct, toughening the qualifications for agency inspectors implementing the program, and requiring those inspectors to verify abatement of previous citations under the process safety management standard (29 C.F.R.1910.119) in the past six years.

Any facility OSHA has inspected within the last two years, either programmed or not, should be exempted, it said. Each region should complete an average of three to five programmed inspections per area office, per year under the emphasis program. Under the pilot program, OSHA directed offices to complete an average of between five and 10.

The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates told BNA in a Nov. 30 e-mail it has maintained regular communication with OSHA on the program.

“Our members, who are predominantly small- and medium-sized chemical manufacturers, are aware of the nationwide NEP and are prepared for it,” Christine Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the association, said. “We are confident that our members will continue to perform well in the inspections.”

The compliance directive also requires state plans to participate in the enforcement program and notify OSHA within two months how their programs will differ from the federal initiative, if at all.

OSHA had previously indicated it could fold its emphasis program for refineries into the chemicals initiative, but an agency spokesman told BNA in a Nov. 30 e-mail that the national chemicals program will not apply to refineries.

OSHA concluded the emphasis program for refineries in September, and the spokesman said the agency is evaluating a large amount of data from that program “as the first step toward determining the Agency’s future refinery enforcement approach.”

Inspection Process Described

Under the new program, inspectors will focus on at least one process unit at each plant selected and ask a “dynamic list of questions” to review compliance. OSHA will not disclose those questions ahead of time.

While the pilot program aimed to verify that companies documented and implemented process safety elements at several different types of facilities, the national emphasis program has two categories: those that use ammonia refrigeration and all other facilities that use hazardous chemicals.

Different lists of between 10 and 20 questions are designed for facilities conducting ammonia refrigeration, chemical storage, or chemical processing, the directive said.

“Based on inspection history at refineries and large chemical plants, OSHA has found that employers may have an extensive process safety management program, but insufficient program implementation,” the directive said. “Therefore, [inspectors] should verify the implementation of [process safety management] elements to ensure that the employer’s actual program is consistent with their written program.”

Under the pilot program, the majority of citations—750—were issued under the process safety management standard, according to data OSHA released in July. At that point, the agency had conducted 207 inspections under the program.

Safety-Related Documents

Inspectors will also request access to a number of safety-related documents from employers, including their injury and illness logs; a list of all process safety management-covered processes and units; unit process flow diagrams; piping and instrumentation diagrams; and process hazard analysis, among others, the directive said.

Process units will be selected for inspection based on several factors, including the nature and quantity of chemicals involved; incident investigation and near-miss reports; age of the unit; discussions with workers; and potential hazards observed during an inspector’s walk around. An inspector may expand the investigation if hazards outside of the selected unit are observed, the directive said.

In addition, the directive sets new experience requirements for OSHA inspectors implementing the program, depending on what level of inspection they are conducting.

Criteria for the assignment of inspectors includes whether they have prior experience investigating accidents at chemical plants or ammonia refrigeration facilities, prior experience in chemical industry safety, and how extensive either of their experience is.

OSHA’s new compliance directive is available at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_03-00-014.pdf

OSHA Announces Winners of “Picture It: Safe Workplaces for Everyone” Photo Contest

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced the winners of its first ever photo contest to raise public awareness of occupational safety and health.

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, OSHA held the Picture It!: Safe Workplaces for Everyone photo contest. The contest challenged anyone with a passion for photography to capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with OSHA. At the same time, OSHA held a second contest challenging OSHA staff to submit their images of workplace safety and health. The six winning photographs, and seven honorable mentions, can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/osha40/photo-winners.html.

“I am thrilled by the way these photographers have so creatively captured the challenges of workplace safety and health,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, expressing his enthusiasm for the overwhelming response to the contest and the quality of the submissions. “Each winning photograph tells its own powerful story of the contribution of workers to our great country’s success, and America, and of the vital importance of protecting their health and safety. I am deeply grateful to everyone who contributed their time and talent to this contest.”

Aaron Sussell, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was selected from more than three hundred submissions as the first-place winner of the public contest for his compelling photograph of workers involved in last summer’s cleanup of the Gulf Oil Spill. “This is a great captured moment that tells the story of workplace safety,” said Kathleen Klech, Photography Director, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine and Photo Contest judge.

Second-place winner Roberto Carlos Vergara, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was lauded for the otherworldly display of light and shadow in his photograph; set high above the clouds, the photograph emphasizes the importance of the fall protection equipment that each worker in the frame wears. Roberto Rodriguez of Mesquite, Texas, placed third for his image of a worker safely operating a machine in the midst of a visually active factory floor.

The winner of the OSHA staff contest is Elena Finizio, who works in OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts Area Office. Ms. Finizio’s photograph of the eerie glow of molten metal as workers pour a casting was praised for its “visual drama” by photojournalist and contest judge Earl Dotter. Steve Baranowski, also of OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts Area Office, was awarded second place in the internal contest for his vivid portrayal of an OSHA compliance officer at work. Frank Wenzel of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries placed third for his dizzying image of wind turbine construction.

Several honorable mentions were also awarded to photographers whose work will be featured on the contest Web page. They are Koralie Hill of Oakland, California; Roy Berke of Sacramento, California; Paul Navarette of Riverside, California; Wally Reardon of Pulaski, New York; and Jorge Intriago of Columbia, South Carolina from the public contest; and Keith Tsubata of the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and McClelland Davis of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries from the OSHA staff.

The winners will receive framed certificates from Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis (first prize) and Dr. Michaels (second and third prizes). All six winning photographs will be framed and hung in the Department of Labor’s headquarters at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C., where they will serve as daily reminders of the real-life impacts of OSHA’s mission. Winners were selected by an expert panel of judges that included Mr. Dotter; Carl Fillichio, the Department of Labor’s Senior Advisor for Communications and Public Affairs; Kathleen Klech, photography director for Condé Nast Traveler magazine; and Shawn Moore, the chief photographer for the Department of Labor. OSHA extends its thanks to these judges for their generosity and their critical expertise.

Many of the remaining contest submissions can be viewed on the Department of Labor’s Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdol/sets/72157627278407408/.

OSHA QuickTakes – December 1, 2011

December 1, 2011 · Volume 10, Issue 23
OSHA at 40QuickTakes
A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.
In this issue

OSHA announces winners of
“Picture It: Safe Workplaces for Everyone” photo contest
1st Place
1st Place
Aaron Sussell, Cincinnati, Ohio
2nd Place
2nd Place
Roberto Carlos Vergara, Charlotte, North Carolina
3rd Place
3rd Place
Roberto Rodriguez, Mesquite, Texas
OSHA announced the winners of its first-ever photo contest to raise public awareness of occupational safety and health. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, OSHA held the Picture It!: Safe Workplaces for Everyone photo contest. The contest challenged anyone with a passion for photography to capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with OSHA. At the same time, OSHA held a second contest challenging OSHA staff to submit their images of workplace safety and health.Aaron Sussell, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was selected from more than three hundred submissions as the first-place winner of the public contest for his compelling photograph of workers involved in last summer’s cleanup of the Gulf Oil Spill. Second-place winner Roberto Carlos Vergara, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was lauded for the otherworldly display of light and shadow in his photograph; set high above the clouds, the photograph emphasizes the importance of the fall protection equipment that each worker in the frame wears. Roberto Rodriguez of Mesquite, Texas, placed third for his image of a worker safely operating a machine in the midst of a visibly active factory floor.

The winner of the OSHA staff contest is Elena Finizio, who works in OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts Area Office. Ms. Finizio’s photograph of the eerie glow of molten metal as workers pour a casting was praised for its “visual drama” by photojournalist and contest judge Earl Dotter. Steve Baranowski, also of OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts Area Office, was awarded second place in the internal contest for his vivid portrayal of an OSHA compliance officer at work. Frank Wenzel of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries placed third for his dizzying image of wind turbine construction.

Winners were selected by an expert panel of judges that included Mr. Dotter; Carl Fillichio, the Department of Labor’s Senior Advisor for Communications and Public Affairs; Kathleen Klech, photography director for Condé Nast Traveler magazine; and Shawn Moore, the chief photographer for the Department of Labor. OSHA extends its thanks to these judges for their generosity and their critical expertise. See the news release for more information.

The winning photographs and honorable mentions can be viewed on the Photo Contest Web page.

OSHA issues new National Emphasis Program for chemical facilities

OSHA issued a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) for chemical facilities to protect workers from catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals. The new NEP replaces OSHA’s 2009 pilot Chemical Emphasis Program which covered several OSHA regions around the country. The program* establishes policies and procedures for inspecting workplaces that are covered by OSHA’s process safety management (PSM) standard. The program’s inspection process includes detailed questions designed to gather facts related to PSM requirements and verification that employers’ written and implemented PSM programs are consistent. The intent of the NEP is to conduct quick inspections at a large number of facilities that will be randomly selected from a list of worksites likely to have highly hazardous chemicals in quantities covered by the standard.

“Far too many workers are injured and killed in preventable incidents at chemical facilities around the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “This program will enable OSHA inspectors to cover chemical facilities nationwide to ensure that all required measures are taken to protect workers.” See the news release for more information.

Article highlights positive impact of OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant on worker safety in metalcasting facilities

An article in Modern Casting magazine details how eleven metalcasting facilities in the Ohio Valley Region improved worker safety as a result of a training program funded by an OSHA Susan Harwood Training Grant. Metalcasting operations rank among the 25 industries with the highest workplace injury rates. Most of these injuries are attributed to strains and sprains, which can be reduced through training and engineering and administrative controls. Workers at each of the small businesses participating in the training program attended half-day workshops to and managers attended a full-day program. During the training workers and managers learned how to identify risk factors including heavy loads and repetitive lifting, heat and noise, and factors specific to individual workers such as differences in employees’ age and gender.

Follow up visits were conducted at each of the 11 metalcasting facilities from one to three months after the training to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Overall, that the training improved worker’s ergonomic knowledge by 24%. In addition, employers at every facility had implemented engineering or administrative controls, or both, to reduce employee’s exposure to risk factors and thereby improve safety. These included installing an electric power lift, or lift and tilt tables that allow workers to adjust their workstations to ensure proper posture, and using pallets to raise workstation heights and eliminate the need for unnecessary bending. See OSHA’s Web site for more information on OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.

New tire charts will help workers safely service single-piece and multi-piece rim wheels

OSHA has revised its tire servicing materials to address current hazards in the industry and help workers safely perform maintenance on large vehicle tires. The materials address OSHA’s Materials Handling and Storage standard that protects workers who service single-piece and multi-piece rim wheels. Following recent talks with representatives from tire, rubber, and wheel manufacturers, OSHA determined a need for new materials with updates from sources such as the Tire Industry Association. The updated information, available in a portable manual or as three poster-sized charts, is easier to access and use. OSHA’s revised “Multi-piece Rim Matching Chart” provides an updated list of current and obsolete components and the old “Demounting and Mounting Procedures for Truck/Bus Tires” chart is now expanded into two charts that deal individually with tubeless and tube-type tires. The revised materials can be downloaded from OSHA’s Publications page See the news release for more information.

OSHA orders trucking company to reinstate whistleblower and pay back wages and damages

OSHA ordered Knoxville-based Heartland Transportation Inc. to reinstate a former employee and pay the individual $62,090 in compensatory and punitive damages plus more than two years of back wages, interest, benefits and reasonable attorney’s fees. The order follows OSHA’s determination that the company violated the employee’s rights under the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by terminating the employee for complaining about defective vehicles.

The employee had complained about trucks with mechanical failures on a number of occasions, but the problems recurred. He informed his employer that he would not drive trucks with such failures in the future. Soon after this, the driver found that his name had been removed from the driving schedule. He inquired about this development, and was informed that his employment was terminated. The employee then submitted a whistleblower complaint to OSHA. See the news release for more information.

OSHA files whistleblower lawsuit against medical clinic for firing employee who reported hazards

OSHA filed a lawsuit against the Brighton Medical Clinic in Brighton, Colo., and its owner, Dr. Luithuk Zimik, on behalf of an employee who was terminated in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act. The employee had complained about safety and health hazards to the clinic’s management staff before filing a formal complaint about the hazards with OSHA. The employee was later discharged and then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA. The agency’s Whistleblower Protection Program conducted an investigation and determined the former employee’s allegations had merit. After being notified of OSHA’s findings, the defendants refused to reinstate the employee to the same or a substantially equivalent position and to pay back wages or other employment benefits. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, OSHA’s complaint seeks to reinstate the employee, secure compensatory damages and lost back pay. See the news release for more information.

Cable manufacturer fined nearly $180,000 for exposing workers to electrical, chemical, mechanical, fire and exit hazards

OSHA cited Loos & Co. Inc. for 29 alleged violations of workplace safety standards. The Pomfret cable manufacturer faces a total of $177,000 in proposed fines following safety and health inspections conducted by OSHA’s Hartford Area Office. OSHA inspectors found untrained employees working on live electrical equipment without adequate personal protective equipment and not using hazardous energy control procedures during maintenance of machinery; ungrounded lamps and electrical receptacles; damaged and misused electrical equipment; unguarded moving machine parts; uninspected lifting slings; excessive buildup of combustible dust; spray painting with flammable paint within 20 feet of spark-producing equipment; excessive noise levels and the lack of controls to reduce noise levels; improper dispensing of flammable liquids; inadequate eyewash facilities for employees working with chemicals; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; failure to conduct initial monitoring for hexavalent chromium; and exit routes arranged so employees would have to travel toward high-hazard areas when exiting the plant in an emergency. The company was also cited for one for inadequate machine safeguarding. A similar hazard was cited by OSHA following a 2008 inspection of the plant. See the news release for more information.

OSHA fines firearms manufacturer $170,000 for exposing workers to toxic substances and other hazards

OSHA fined Remington Arms Co. Inc. cited Remington Arms Co. Inc. for 35 alleged serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its Ilion, N.Y., manufacturing plant. The firearms manufacturer faces a total of $170,000 in proposed penalties for a variety of mechanical, electrical and chemical hazards identified during inspections by OSHA’s Syracuse Area Office.

OSHA found violations involving a lack of personal protective equipment and worker exposure to toxic substances lead and cadmium. The inspection also identified numerous electrical hazards and instances of unguarded moving machine parts; improper storage and transfer of flammable liquids; a lack of procedures to lock out machines’ power sources to prevent their unintended startup during maintenance; unguarded openings and defective ladders; inadequate fire extinguisher training and availability; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; and several exit deficiencies including a locked exit door, obstructed exit routes, unmarked exits, and non-functioning emergency and exit lighting. See the news release for more information.

NACOSH and ACCSH to hold December meetings in Washington, DC

OSHA has scheduled a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) Dec. 14-15, in Washington, D.C. NACOSH is a continuing advisory committee established under the OSH Act of 1970 that has advised the Secretaries of Labor, and Health and Human Services for nearly 40 years on worker safety and health issues.

The tentative agenda includes remarks from the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health and the Director for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Work Group reports; and discussions on electronic health records and prevention through design. A final agenda will be made available on the NACOSH website. Work Groups will meet on the morning of December 14 and report back to the full committee on the December 15. NIOSH officials will also make presentations to the committee on the afternoon of December 14. Official presentations from Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and NIOSH will be made when the full committee meets on December 15. Individuals interested in submitting comments or requests to speak must do so by Dec. 7 online, by mail or by fax. See the Federal Register notice for details.

OSHA will also hold a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) Dec. 13-16 in Washington, D.C. ACCSH, established under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, advises the Secretary of Labor and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on construction standards and policy matters.

The agenda includes an update on OSHA’s construction enforcement and outreach efforts, rulemaking projects, a presentation from the Seattle Tunnel and Rail Team (START); ACCSH’s consideration of, and recommendations on a direct final rule/proposed rule to update personal protective equipment standards on head protection for construction work and a proposed rule on Standards Improvement Project (SIP) IV; and a presentation from the Office Engineering Services on sewage treatment plant failure. The full committee will meet December 15-16. Work Groups will meet December 13-14. Comments and requests to speak may be submitted online, by mail or by fax. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments and requests to speak must be submitted by Dec. 2.

The agency is accepting nominations to fill eight vacancies on the 15-member committee. Nominations will be accepted for representatives in the employee, employer, state safety and health agencies, and public categories. Nominations may be submitted online, by mail or by fax. Please see the Federal Register notice for details. Nominations must be submitted by January 23, 2012.

Employers get help from OSHA’s free On-site Consultation Program: Worker safety and health improves

With a small business where workers risk both falls and dangerous chemical exposures, the owners of Tri-State Building Services LLC decided to call OSHA for help. The results, Tri-State improved their safety and health management programs through working with the New York State Department of Labor’s (NYDOL) On-site Consultation Program. “It seemed like a no-brainer. Why not take advantage of the nation’s top authority on safety?” said Dave and Jim Grady, co-owners of the upstate New York cleaning and property maintenance company.

Tri State contacted OSHA’s free On-site Consultation Program, which provides small business workplaces with assistance in identifying and correcting workplace safety and health hazards, as well as guidance on improving their injury and illness prevention program. Thanks to OSHA’s visit, Tri-State has made significant safety and health improvements, including purchasing and installing eye wash stations, properly labeling equipment and chemicals, and enhancing the company’s safety manuals. The company has also increased efforts to communicate safety and health information to Spanish speaking workers and to provide training to all workers on topics including scaffolding, aerial lifts, window cleaning, and general construction. The results can be seen in their injury rates which are significantly lower than the industry averages.

“To maintain a safety and health environment, Tri-State has learned to train, re-train, and reinforce. The company examines their safety and health management program constantly by re-evaluating and modifying their overall existing program, searching for improvement,” said Grady. “The On-site Consultation visits have helped the organization to enforce its safety and health expectations by encouraging Tri-State’s employees to be safety conscious throughout the entire organization.” See the online success story for more information.

Oregon OSHA wins award for efforts to inform the public about formaldehyde hazards from hair products

Spotlights2.jpgCROET’s Dede Montgomery (left) and Oregon OSHA’s Melanie Mesaros at the Spotlight Award celebration.

Oregon OSHA took home a Spotlight Award, the highest award given by the Portland chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, for the agency’s work on formaldehyde in hair straightening and smoothing products. Judges gave Oregon OSHA high marks for research and planning and remarked, “Excellent documentation of results,” and “Great results and coverage.”

Federal OSHA issued a hazard alert to warn hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with certain hair smoothing and straightening products. The hazard alert notifies salons that if they use products that contain or release formaldehyde (like timonacic acid), they must follow the requirements in OSHA’s formaldehyde standard. The alert also includes a list of other names for formaldehyde (e.g. methylene glycol, formalin, and methanal) and details about required information to be listed on product labels and material safety data sheets of products that contain or could release formaldehyde.

Department of Transportation unveils ‘OMG’ PSA to warn teens about the dangers of distracted driving

The U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled “OMG,” a new public service announcement (PSA) to warn teenagers against the dangers of distracted driving. The PSA is available on the newly redesigned Distraction.gov website, along with new materials designed especially for young drivers. The new PSA is designed to reach teenagers using imagery that relates to popular shorthand text messages such as “L8R” for “later” or “LOL” for “laugh out loud.” Two versions of the PSA will air. A version geared towards a teenage audience will run exclusively on 6,589 movie screens in 526 cinemas across the country. A more somber version will air on the 12,000 screens that top pumps at high traffic gas stations across the United States. To view the new ads click here.

The human toll is tragic,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels about the consequences of distracted driving. “The Department of Transportation reports that in 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes linked to distraction and thousands more were injured. Texting while driving has become such a prominent hazard that 30 states now ban text messaging for all drivers. It is an employer’s responsibility and legal obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace, and that would include having a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving.” In an Oct. 20 blog post, Michaels said, “Companies are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.” For more information, visit OSHA’s Distracted Driving Web page.

OSHA celebrates 40 years of helping to ensure healthier workers, safer workplaces and a stronger America

Throughout 2011, OSHA is presenting a series of materials and activities to celebrate the agency’s 40th anniversary. Visit the OSHA at 40 Web page for resources including a short video using old and new footage to highlight key moments in the agency’s history, an interactive timeline and a commemoration of the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire. The page also links to an anniversary message from OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels as well as a video of his participation in a panel discussion on the nation’s progress in worker safety and health over the past forty years and the challenges that lie ahead.


How to Handle an OSHA Inspection – “What Should I Expect?”

How to Handle An OSHA Inspection – Download PDF File

OSHA Inspection Procedures – Download PDF File

I have had many questions lately asking “What should I expect and how do I handle an OSHA Inspection?”, thus this posting.

Being prepared to handle an OSHA inspection or investigation properly minimizes the employer’s exposure to liability and eliminates unnecessary anxiety surrounding the inspection. Inspections or investigations can be triggered by:

  • Target inspections (especially for industries designated for special emphasis programs);
  • Employee complaints;
  • Claim of imminent danger where there has been a fatality; and
  • Where three or more employees are hospitalized as a result of an accident or illness.

If you ask, the OSHA compliance officer generally will tell you why he or she is there. If the inspection was triggered by an employee complaint, the company is entitled to an explanation as to the reason for the inspection and can ask for a copy of the complaint.

Direct the OSHA compliance officer to the company’s designated safety officer prior to the opening conference. The safety director should obtain the compliance officer’s credentials and his or her business card with an address and phone number to ensure that the compliance officer is on an official inspection. The opening conference should begin at this point.

If the company is a union shop, the compliance officer will probably request that a union representative be present at the conference to report any employee concerns and will ask the union representative to accompany him or her in the inspection “walk-around.”

The company should say as little as possible. The compliance officer will not only seek general information, but also may seek specific admissions concerning an employer’s knowledge of unsafe conditions. Be helpful and courteous, but watch out for questions designed to elicit knowledge of uncorrected hazards. Don’t volunteer information.

Show the OSHA inspector the company’s commitment to its safety statement, but be aware that OSHA does not like employee safety incentive programs. The existence of an incentive program may bias the inspector against the company. OSHA’s view is that the effect of safety incentive programs is under-reporting of injuries and illnesses.

Generally, the compliance officer can examine records that an employer is required to maintain under the Act, such as the log and summary of occupational illnesses and injuries (OSHA 200 Log), the supplemental record of occupational illnesses and injuries, and Material Safety Date Sheets.

The company is required to keep its logs of injuries and illnesses on file for the specified period (5 years), but the safety manager should not volunteer logs unless they are specifically requested by the inspector. Information contained in these logs may cause the inspector to conduct additional employee interviews and lead to a stricter examination of the company’s safety training programs.

However, management should be ready to produce records concerning compliance programs required by specific OSHA standards. Examples include:

  • Lockout/Tagout procedures
  • Confined space protocols
  • Bloodborne pathogens containment
  • Evacuation plans for fire, flood, explosion
  • Hazard communications

Other records, such as accident reports, insurance company studies, and employee medical records should not be given to the compliance officer without the proper request procedures being followed. Employee medical records should be obtained by OSHA in compliance with a medical access order. The order must be posted so that the employee has a chance to object to the release of the records.

The next phase of the inspection is the walk-around. The company’s designated walk-around representative should be the facility’s safety officer, who should stay with the OSHA compliance officer at all times. If possible, two employer representatives should also be present to take detailed notes and/or photographs or videos if necessary.

The OSHA compliance officer is limited to the areas identified in the complaint or warrant, together with those areas consented to by the employer. The inspection may be expanded based on records or additional information obtained from a previous “limited” inspection. It is important that the inspection be of only the appropriate areas, but a violation in plain view can be cited and may expand the scope of the inspection. The employer representatives should say as little as possible during the inspection Any comments may be used against the employer in later citation proceedings and may compromise defenses available to the employer.

  • The employer should take certain proactive steps during the walk-around inspection. Be sure to:
  • Take detailed notes of all comments and questions asked by the OSHA compliance officer;
  • Take photographs, videotapes/audiotapes and measurements of inspected work areas and machinery to correspond to the photographs, videotapes and measurements taken by the compliance officer; and
  • Make note of the names of any employees interviewed by the compliance officer.

The employer must not take any action against an employee who interviews or cooperates with the OSHA compliance officer. Retaliation carries extremely heavy penalties under federal and state law.

The company representatives should advise the OSHA compliance officer in advance of any concerns the company has regarding possible trade secrets and other proprietary information.  The authority of the OSHA compliance officer is limited.  For example, the compliance officer:

  • must conduct employee interviews within “reasonable” limits and in a “reasonable” manner
  • may not conduct private employee interviews on employer’s premises unless the employer consents
  • is not allowed to view employee medical records without the proper request order, but is allowed to determine if the records are being maintained
  • should not enter restricted/posted areas unless proper precautions are taken
  • must wear required protective equipment such as goggles, hard hats, gloves and earplugs
  • may not take photographs if the flash would produce a hazard or disrupt the work area
  • may not cause an unreasonable disruption or interference with operations.

After the walk-around, the compliance officer will conduct a closing conference. He or she will describe any “apparent violations” to the company’s representatives and explain the company’s rights and responsibilities. The compliance officer may ask how much time is needed to abate the “apparent violation.” An affirmative response to this question may be deemed an admission of a violation and could subject the company to a heavier fine. Preface any response with: “If a violation exists . . .”

If an apparent violation cannot be contested in good faith, the company should try to abate it during the inspection. This could result in a reduced penalty. Take detailed notes on problems addressed by the compliance officer (with the applicable standards) and the suggested abatement procedures.

At the closing conference, verbally confirm the scope of the inspection as stated in the opening conference, and send a follow-up letter to the compliance officer confirming the scope of the inspection.

Any citation must be issued within six months of the start of the inspection, but are usually issued within a few weeks. There are strict time limits (15 days) within which a company may contest the citation. The company’s mail room must be alerted that a letter from OSHA is expected and instructed to give it to the designated company representative immediately upon receipt.

If you are issued a citation, it should be posted (with penalty amounts deleted) in the area cited, as well as where company notices normally are posted. Notify the company’s OSHA counsel immediately. The company may want to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, depending on how the nature of the violations, the penalty classification, whether abatement is feasible, and the cost of abatement. The informal conference may or may not result in an informal settlement, but the request for an informal conference does not extend the time for the filing of a notice of contest.

ANSI Recognized by OSHA as an Approved Accrediting Body for Crane Operator Certification Programs

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has been recognized as an approved accreditor of crane operator certification programs by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

“ANSI is pleased to have earned OSHA’s recognition as an accreditor of crane operator certification programs, which attests to the highest quality of the Institute’s personnel certification accreditation program,” said Lane Hallenbeck, ANSI vice president of accreditation services. “This is just the latest example of how government agencies in key sectors rely upon ANSI accreditation as the most rigorous and comprehensive third-party verification of the competence of personnel certification bodies utilizing ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 – Conformity Assessment – General Requirements for bodies operating certification of persons.”

Under the new OSHA rule to address the safety of cranes and derricks used in construction, all crane operator certification bodies must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting entity. According to statistics issued by the Department of Labor, approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental, and crane certification establishments employing about 4.8 million workers will be affected.

In drafting the rule, OSHA weighed multiple options for the qualification of crane operators, including employer self-certification, certification by an accredited educational institution under existing Department of Education criteria, and certification by an accredited third-party personnel certification body. Comments were submitted and testimony offered from all perspectives, including from Roy Swift, Ph.D., ANSI senior program director, personnel credentialing accreditation programs. According to Dr. Swift’s testimony, which was cited in the final rule (29 CFR Part 1926), “a personnel certification program is designed to address competency for job performance. The accreditation process for educational institutions does not include an assessment of an institution’s ability to assess personnel competency… and the tests administered by an educational program are not held to the same psychometric standards as those administered by an accredited personnel certification program.”

Ultimately, OSHA concluded that accredited third-party certification would provide the only reliable demonstration that a crane operator has the knowledge and skills needed for safe operation.

ANSI is the only personnel certification accreditation body in the United States to meet ISO/IEC 17011:2004, Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies, which represents the highest internationally accepted practices for accreditation bodies.

Since the inception of ANSI’s fast-growing Personnel Certification Accreditation Program in 2003, the Institute has accredited 30 personnel certification bodies that represent more than 70 different credentials. In total, over 5.2 million professionals currently hold certifications from ANSI-accredited personnel credentialing bodies.

For more information on ANSI’s accreditation services, visit www.ansi.org/accreditation.

OSHA Quick Takes – August 16, 2010

In This Issue

BP agrees to pay more than $50 million in fines for safety hazards uncorrected after 2005 explosion killed 15 workers

BP Products North America Inc. has agreed to pay OSHA a full penalty of $50.6 million stemming from the 2005 explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others. In addition to paying the record fine, BP has agreed to take immediate steps to protect those now working at the refinery, allocating a minimum of $500 million to that effort.

“This agreement achieves our goal of protecting workers at the refinery and ensuring that critical safety upgrades are made as quickly as possible,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The size of the penalty rightly reflects BP’s disregard for workplace safety and shows that we will enforce the law so workers can return home safe at the end of their day.”

Under the agreement*, finalized Aug. 12, BP will immediately begin performing safety reviews of the refinery equipment according to set schedules and make permanent corrections. The agreement also identifies many items in need of immediate attention; the company has agreed to address those concerns quickly and to hire independent experts to monitor its efforts. Additionally, the agreement provides an unprecedented level of oversight of BP’s safety program including regular meetings with OSHA, frequent site inspections and the submission of quarterly reports for the agency’s review.

“Safer conditions at this refinery should result from this arrangement, which goes far beyond what can normally be achieved through abatement of problems identified in citations,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “Make no mistake, OSHA will be watching to ensure that BP complies with the agreement and safeguards its workers.”

See the OSHA Web site for the more information on the agreement and OSHA’s investigations resulting from the 2005 fatal explosion.

Kleen Energy fined more than $16 million after power plant explosion kills six workers
OSHA warns other plants not to engage in same potentially deadly practices

OSHA issued $16.6 million in penalties for 371 workplace safety violations to three construction companies and 14 site contractors following a February 7 deadly natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems LLC power plant construction site in Middletown, Conn. Six workers were killed and 50 others injured by the blast that occurred when flammable natural gas was being pumped under high pressure to clean new fuel lines. The gas was vented into areas where it could not easily disperse, contacted an ignition source and exploded. Employers had allowed welding and other work to continue nearby at the time, creating an extremely dangerous situation.

“The millions of dollars in fines levied pale in comparison to the value of the six lives lost and numerous other lives disrupted,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in an Aug. 4 news release. “However, the fines and penalties reflect the gravity and severity of the deadly conditions created by the companies managing the work at the site. No operation and no deadline is worth cutting common sense safety procedures. Workers should not sacrifice their lives for their livelihoods.”

Nearly $16 million in penalties were issued against O&G Industries Inc., the project’s general contractor; Keystone Construction and Maintenance Inc., which was in charge of the piping and oversaw the gas blow; and Bluewater Energy Services Inc., the commissioning and startup contractor for the plant. Another 14 subcontractors operating at the construction site received $686,000 in penalties.

“These employers blatantly disregarded well-known and accepted industry procedures and their own safety guidelines in conducting the gas blow operation in a manner that exposed workers to fire and explosion hazards,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “We see this time and time again across industries when companies deliberately ignore safety precautions in the interest of completing jobs quickly, and workers end up being killed or seriously hurt.”

As a result of the deadly incident at the Kleen Energy plant, OSHA will send a warning letter to natural gas power plant operators regarding the dangerous practice of cleaning fuel gas piping using natural gas, and the need to ensure that safety procedures and practices are implemented to prevent similar disasters.

Grain handling facility fined $721,000 after worker is engulfed in storage bin
Michaels reminds employers of their duty to protect workers’ lives

OSHA fined Cooperative Plus Inc. $721,000 after a near tragedy in February, when a worker in a storage bin was trapped in soybeans up to his chest in 25 degree weather. The worker was ultimately rescued after a four-hour ordeal. OSHA issued 10 citations against the Burlington, Wis., farmer-owned cooperative after inspectors concluded that the employer had willfully disregarded safety requirements by exposing workers to the risk of being engulfed and suffocated in grain storage bins. Two of the citations were for multiple egregious violations for failing to provide workers entering grain storage bins with body harnesses and lifelines and failing to provide an observer while other workers entered the grain bins. See the news release for more information about this case and OSHA’s new grain storage bins fact sheet* for more information on engulfment hazards.

Unfortunately, this type of incident happens with disturbing frequency in the grain handling industry. In the last 10 months, OSHA fined two grain handling facilities more than $3 million after separate incidents in which a 17-year-old who had just graduated high school and a 52-year-old husband and father were engulfed and suffocated in grain storage containers. Last month, two Illinois teenagers (ages 14 and 19) were suffocated after being engulfed in a grain bin they had entered. A third young worker was hospitalized after being trapped in the bin for 12 hours.

To prevent future similar tragedies, OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels sent a letter to approximately 3,300 grain storage facilities across the country explaining the possible consequences of failing to comply with the Grain Handling Facility standard. “If any employee dies in a grain storage facility, in addition to any civil penalties proposed, OSHA will consider referring the incident to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution,” Michaels said.

OSHA addresses record number of egregious cases

“There’s a new sheriff in town,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis warned during her 2009 swearing-in ceremony. Following up on that warning, OSHA is aggressively enforcing its standards when employers show indifference to protecting the safety and lives of their workers. During the past year and a half, OSHA investigators have issued citations for egregious violations in 17 cases, including those involving BP Products North America, Kleen Energy and Cooperative Plus. This is more than twice as many egregious cases as were issued during the two years before the current administration took office. OSHA inspectors cite egregious violations when an employer shows multiple instances of willful and flagrant indifference to correcting workplace hazards, many of which tragically result in worker fatalities, worksite catastrophes (such as explosions or chemical releases) or large numbers of worker injuries or illnesses. “We will not tolerate this type of blatant and egregious disregard for the health and safety of workers. Employers need to know there will be consequences,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels.

OSHA continues monitoring working conditions during oil spill cleanup

Even though BP has sealed its underwater well in the Gulf of Mexico, OSHA continues to monitor cleanup operations for any safety and health hazards as workers continue to deal with the remaining oil spill.

Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon four months ago that began the cleanup response, OSHA has made more than 3,000 site visits covering the vessels of opportunity, beach cleanup, staging areas, decontamination, distribution and deployment sites. OSHA posts Job-Specific Safety and Health Sheets online to provide information on the hazards associated with specific cleanup tasks and required personal protective equipment* and training*. Among the many hazards workers face–such as falls, drowning, fatigue, sharp objects and animal bites–the number one health concern continues to be heat stress, with more than 700 incidents so far, some very serious. In response to the continued threat of tropical storms entering the Gulf during hurricane season, OSHA recently posted a fact sheet on its Web site about hazards to cleanup workers from severe weather. OSHA has also made approximately 2,500 noise and chemical exposure assessments in areas of offshore and onshore cleanup activities. No air sampling by OSHA has detected hazardous chemicals at levels of concern.

Visit OSHA’s oil spill response Web page for more information on OSHA activities related to the oil spill cleanup as well as worker safety and health publications in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

New cranes and derricks rule published in Federal Register

OSHA’s new rule addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction was published in the Federal Register Aug. 9. The rule, which replaces a decades-old version based on outdated standards, will take effect Nov. 8. It addresses critically important provisions for crane operation and incorporates technological advances that will provide improved protection for about 4.8 million workers employed by 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments.

OSHA hosting Web Forum to identify hazardous chemicals most in need of agency action

OSHA is hosting a Web forum beginning Aug. 16, asking for stakeholder input in identifying chemicals most in need of oversight to protect workers. Hazardous chemicals cause worker injuries and illnesses including damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys, skin and eyes. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for 2007 indicate workers suffered more than 55,000 illnesses related to chemical exposures and that nearly 17,500 chemical-related injuries and illnesses resulted in workers spending days away from work. This is likely an underestimate because effects from chemical exposures are often not recognized until years later. OSHA established approximately 400 chemical permissible exposure limits in its first two years by adopting existing national consensus or federal safety and health standards. Since then, OSHA has only been able to develop more protective regulations for 29 additional chemicals, while the majority of OSHA’s existing PELs have remained unchanged. The Web Forum will allow stakeholders to identify harmful chemicals and explain why OSHA should focus on these chemicals in developing long- and short-term solutions for reducing workers’ exposure. Go to the OSHA Web site to participate in the forum, which ends Aug. 27.

More than 200 stakeholders participate in series of meetings on injury and illness prevention

After OSHA held three stakeholder meetings on its Injury and Illness Prevention Program standard, the agency added two additional meetings to accommodate the record number of people wishing to participate. Approximately 200 attendees, representing a broad range of interests, provided comments at these five nationwide meetings, which also included about 350 observers. Representatives from unions, trade associations, professional organizations, large and small businesses, and other governmental agencies shared their thoughts on OSHA’s proposed rule to require employers to develop plans to identify workplace hazards and fix them before they cause an injury, illness or death. Attendees provided input on possible regulatory approaches and the scope and application, organization and economic impact of the proposed rule. Summary notes from the meetings are available on the Safety and Health Programs page of OSHA’s Web site.

Oregon OSHA announces 2010 Workers’ Memorial Scholarships

Oregon OSHA is honoring four Oregon students who lost a parent due to a workplace injury or illness with more than $6,500 in Workers’ Memorial Scholarship awards for the 2010-2011 academic year. Oregon OSHA presents the scholarships annually to assist in the postsecondary education of spouses or children of workers who were permanently and totally disabled or killed on the job. This year’s recipients include Brittany Ford, who lost her father when a machine crushed him two weeks after her seventh birthday; Amanda Morris, whose father was killed at work when she was two years old; and Marissa Becker, who was just entering college when her father died from overexposure to metal dust. The fourth recipient chose to remain anonymous. Oregon OSHA will honor the recipients at an Aug. 19 ceremony in Salem. See the Oregon OSHA news release* for more information.

Oregon is one of 22 states and territories operating their own occupational safety and health programs covering private and public sector workers. Five other states have safety and health programs that cover public workers only. A state plan must set job safety and health standards that are “at least as effective as” comparable federal OSHA standards. See the State OSH Plans page of OSHA’s Web site for more information on these programs and their requirements.

Job openings

Are you interested in a career with the Department of Labor? The department has job opportunities throughout the country, such as openings in OSHA that include a Safety and Occupational Health Specialist and a Medical Officer (Occupational Medicine).

See DOL’s electronic newsletter for more DOL news.

Receive the free, twice monthly QuickTakes faster and easier by subscribing to the RSS feed that delivers almost instant information. Visit OSHA’s RSS Feeds Web page to subscribe.

Editor: Richard De Angelis, OSHA Office of Communications, 202-693-1999
For more information on occupational safety and health, visit OSHA’s Web site.

* Accessibility Assistance
Contact OSHA’s Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.
%d bloggers like this: