New Compliance Date for OSHA Crane Operator Certification

November 13, 2017

OSHA has issued a final rule setting November 10, 2018, as the date for employers in the construction industries to comply with a requirement for crane operator certification. The final rule became effective November 9, 2017.

OSHA issued a final cranes and derricks rule in August 2010.After stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the rule’s certification requirements, OSHA published a separate final rule in September 2014, extending by three years the crane operator certification and competency requirements. This one-year extension provides additional time for OSHA to complete a rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) recommended delaying enforcement of the certification requirement and extending the employer assessment responsibilities for the same period.

Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders

The increased prevalence of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in the illicit drug market means that first responders need to understand how to protect themselves from exposure in the field. Law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel must balance safety with mobility and efficiency when responding to scenes where the presence of fentanyl is suspected.

The Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders provides unified, scientific, evidence-based recommendations to first responders so they can protect themselves when the presence of fentanyl is suspected during the course of their daily activities such as responding to overdose calls and conducting traffic stops, arrests, and searches. 

The Recommendations do not comprehensively address all scenarios. Other activities may require additional protective actions such as when conducting field testing, executing search warrants, collecting, transporting, and storing evidence, conducting special operations such as hazardous material incident response, executing search warrants on opioid-related processing or distribution sites, or participating in other tactical operations.

The Recommendations fall into three specific categories:

  • Actions first responders can take to protect themselves from exposure.
  • Actions first responders can take when exposure occurs.
  • Actions first responders can take when they or their partners exhibit signs of intoxication.

Please click here to access a printable version of the Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders that is best suited for 8.5” X 11” paper. Click here to access a printable version that is best suited for 11” X 17” and larger.

Worker Safety with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Construction

Applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for military, recreational, public, and commercial uses have expanded significantly in recent years. As is the case with other emerging technologies, occupational safety assessments of UAVs lag behind technological advancements. A new American Journal of Industrial Medicine paper describes the four major uses of UAVs, such as their use in construction; the potential risks of their use to workers; approaches for risk mitigation; and the important role that safety and health professionals can play in ensuring safe approaches to their use in the workplace.

Gulf Spill Oil Dispersants Associated with Health Symptoms in Cleanup Workers

Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study appeared online Sept. 15 in Environmental Health Perspectives and is the first research to examine dispersant-related health symptoms in humans.

In May 2010, cleanup workers in Venice, Louisiana, pressure washed oil booms to remove oil, debris, and dispersants.

Oil dispersants are a blend of chemical compounds used to break down oil slicks into smaller drops of oil, making them easily degraded by natural processes or diluted by large volumes of water. The study estimated the likelihood of exposure to dispersants, based on the types of jobs the workers did and where. Individuals who handled dispersants, worked near where dispersants were being applied, or had contact with dispersant equipment reported the symptoms they experienced during oil spill cleanup as part of the Gulf Long-term Follow-up (GuLF) STUDY.

The research team found that workers exposed to dispersants were more likely to experience certain symptoms — cough, wheeze, tightness in the chest, and burning in the eyes, nose, throat, or lungs — than those who were not exposed to dispersants.

Dale Sandler, Ph.D., the lead GuLF STUDY researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, said the findings only apply to workers involved in the cleanup effort and not the general public.

"The health effects that we see in the workers don’t necessarily apply to the community at large, although many of the workers live in affected areas," Sandler said. After the oil spill, two chemical dispersants, Corexit EC9500A or Corexit EC9527A, were used in some areas where oil was present. Sandler said since it was the first time oil dispersants had been used on such a large scale, it was important to examine the possible health effects. Most of the previous research on dispersants focused on how well the compounds dispersed oil and the potential environmental impacts. Several small animal studies that tested the chemicals in dispersants suggested some of the compounds were toxic.

One of the challenges the researchers faced was distinguishing whether the effects they saw were associated with the dispersants or petroleum products from the spill. Sandler said the scientists were able to consider both exposures and isolate the effects associated with the dispersants.

The researchers also considered the association between having been exposed to the dispersants during cleanup work and having current symptoms at the time the workers joined the study. Many of those who reported symptoms while they were involved in the oil spill response and cleanup, no longer had them one to three years later when the telephone interviews were conducted. Sandler explained that these findings were consistent with a short-term effect of dispersants on health symptoms. She noted, however, that a small percentage of oil spill workers were still having these symptoms.

"While symptoms are not disease, many people who worked on the oil spill underwent a stressful experience," said NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. "Some of them are continuing to not feel well, and we don’t know what factors are contributing to it. The ongoing GuLF STUDY research is important for shedding light on the potential health impacts associated with an oil spill."

GuLF STUDY participants completed telephone interviews during enrollment, a subsequent home visit that included medical assessments and collecting biological samples, and one follow-up telephone interview. A new follow-up interview is scheduled to start fall 2017. The data used in this study came from enrollment interviews with 31,609 English or Spanish-speaking persons who were involved in oil spill response or cleanup.

In addition to Sandler, others involved in this work include Craig McGowan, currently a research fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; NIEHS staff scientist Richard Kwok, Ph.D.; Lawrence Engel, Ph.D., NIEHS associate scientist, and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and consultants Patricia Stewart, Ph.D., and Mark Stenzel, who led the exposure assessment efforts for the GuLF STUDY.

Common Flame Retardant Chemicals May Reduce Likelihood of Clinical Pregnancy, Live Birth Among Women Undergoing Fertility Treatments

Women with higher urinary concentrations of a common type of flame retardant had reduced likelihood of clinical pregnancy and live birth than those with lower concentrations, according to researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study, conducted in the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the first to examine associations between organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs)—which are used in polyurethane foam in many products, including upholstered furniture, baby products, and gym mats—and reproductive outcomes in women. The researchers note that to their knowledge flame retardants are not in yoga mats.

“These findings suggest that exposure to PFRs may be one of many risk factors for lower reproductive success,” said first author Courtney Carignan, who conducted the work while a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and now is an assistant professor at Michigan State University. “They also add to the body of evidence indicating a need to reduce the use of these flame retardants and identify safer alternatives.”

The study was published online August 25, 2017 in Environmental Health Perspectives. One in six couples struggles with infertility—a proportion likely to rise as increasing numbers of people in developed countries delay childbearing. Previous studies have linked exposure to products containing hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as pesticides and phthalates, to infertility and poorer reproductive success.

The flame retardant PentaBDE, used in polyurethane foam, was phased out more than a decade ago after it was linked with negative health effects in animal and epidemiologic studies. PFRs were introduced as a safer alternative, but they have been found in animal studies to cause hormone disruption. Studies have also shown that PFRs can migrate out of furniture and other products into the air and dust of indoor environments.

For this study, the researchers analyzed urine samples from 211 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2005 and 2015. The women were enrolled in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study, which looks at how environmental chemicals and lifestyle choices affect reproductive health. The statistical analysis took into consideration factors including maternal age and race, smoking history, and body mass index (BMI).

The researchers found that the urinary metabolites (products of a chemical that has been metabolized) of three PFRs— TDCIPP, TPHP, and mono-ITP—were detected in more than 80% of participants. On average, compared to women with lower concentrations of these metabolites, women with higher concentrations had a 10% reduced probability of successful fertilization, 31% reduced probability of implantation of the embryo, and a 41% and 38% decrease in clinical pregnancy (fetal heartbeat confirmed by ultrasound) and live birth.

“Couples undergoing IVF and trying to improve their chances of success by reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals may want to opt for products that are flame-retardant free,” said senior author Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw professor of reproductive physiology and acting chair, Department of Environmental Health.

Further research is needed on the potential impact of male partners’ exposure to flame retardant chemicals and on the joint effects on both men and women of exposure to different types of environmental chemicals, the researchers said.

Other Harvard Chan authors include Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Paige Williams, and Jennifer Ford.

Indiana Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Lowest in State History

The Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) recently released the annual nonfatal workplace injury and illness report for 2016. Indiana’s nonfatal occupational injury and illness rate is the lowest in state history with an estimated 3.5 injuries or illnesses per100 full-time workers.

The 2016 rate represents an eight percent decrease from 2015’s previous historically low rate of 3.8, and the fifth consecutive year the injury and illness rate has been at or below 4.0. “We are proud of our Hoosier workforce and their dedication to maintaining safe and healthy workplaces,” said Rick Ruble, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor. “Indiana’s employers and employees continue to make workplace safety a top priority. Partnerships with organized labor, trade associations and safety councils, as well as Indiana’s IOSHA enforcement and INSafe programs, help ensure that workplace safety is more than a buzzword. It’s a culture.”

Some findings in the 2016 report include:

  • The overall state nonfatal injury and illness rate for 2016 is 3.5 injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time workers, the lowest rate since the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) report was introduced in its current form in 1992. The 2016 rate represents a one-year decline of eight percent from the previous historic low rate of 3.8 in 2015.
  • 15 of 19 major Indiana industry classifications experienced a decrease in nonfatal worker injury and illness rates.
  • The finance and insurance industry experienced the greatest one-year decline in nonfatal worker injuries and illnesses, 60%.
  • The Indiana construction industry remained steady with the 2015 rate of 2.8 per 100 fulltime workers.
  • The Hoosier manufacturing industry saw a 13% decrease in injuries and illnesses from the 2015 rate of 4.7 to 4.1 in 2016.
  • The Hoosier agriculture industry nonfatal worker injury and illness rate saw a one-year 39% decrease from 7.1 in 2015 to 4.3 in 2016.

For more information about the SOII, please visit:

Supermarkets Face Steep Fines for Repeatedly Exposing Workers to Hazards

OSHA has again cited Trade Fair Supermarkets for exposing employees to safety and health hazards at three of its locations in Queens, New York. The company faces $505,929 in proposed penalties.

OSHA’s Queens District Office inspected supermarkets in Astoria and Jackson Heights. Inspectors found blocked exit routes, saw blades without safety guards, and found a lack of eyewash stations needed in the event of exposure to corrosive substances. The company also failed to train employees on, and provide safety data sheets for, hazardous chemicals used in the stores. As a result, OSHA cited the company for one serious and 10 repeat violations. The Agency cited the company for similar violations in 2013.

“The recurrence and pattern of these violations is troubling,” said OSHA Area Director Kay Gee, who oversees Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. “These grocery stores must focus on safety and make it a priority.”

Grain Handling Cooperative Failed to Protect Employees from Entrapment Hazards

OSHA cited a Nebraska grain-handling cooperative for failing to protect workers from grain bin entrapment and engulfment hazards. The company faces $373,911 in proposed penalties.

On May 4, 2017, OSHA responded to reports of a worker partially entrapped in a grain bin. Investigators found the worker had entered the bin to clear clumps of soybeans while the auger was running. As the clumped beans cleared, the grain shifted and knocked the worker off of his feet. The auger drew the cleared beans to the bottom of the bin and engulfed the worker up to his chest. OSHA cited the cooperative for two willful, one repeat, and four serious safety violations of the agency’s grain handling standards, and placed the company in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“It is well known throughout the industry that entering a bin is extremely dangerous, especially while the auger is operating,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille, in Kansas City. “Entering a storage bin should always be avoided – if at all possible.”

OSHA previously cited the Dorchester-based Farmers’ Cooperative for a similar violation at its facility in Talmadge, for failing to properly train employees performing bin entry.

Elringklinger USA Fined $308,906 for Multiple Safety Violations

OSHA cited Elringklinger USA, Inc., for exposing workers to electrical, fall, and noise hazards. Proposed penalties total $308,906.

OSHA inspected the Buford-based auto parts manufacturer on May 2, 2017, after an employee performing maintenance on a screen print machine was injured. In another incident on July 7, 2017, a second worker suffered an amputation of the left index finger while making an adjustment on a punch press machine. Investigations of the incidents resulted in 29 serious and three other-than-serious violations, including failing to install machine guarding, preventing unauthorized employees from performing tasks that require the control of electrical hazards, and protecting workers from excessive noise exposure.

“The injuries these hazards caused could have been prevented if this company had implemented required safety procedures,” said OSHA Area Director William Fulcher, in Atlanta. “Safe workplaces can be achieved if employees are properly protected and receive effective training.”

The inspections were part of the Agency’s regional emphasis program for safety hazards in the auto parts industry.

Lynnway Auto Auction Exposed Employees to Numerous Hazards, Fined $267,081

OSHA cited Lynnway Auto Auction Inc. for electrical, struck-by, and other hazards at its auto auction facility in Billerica.

On May 3, 2017, OSHA inspected the facility after five people were struck by a sport utility vehicle and died as a result of their injuries. The agency issued 16 citations to the company for motor vehicle hazards, blocked exit routes, violations of the hazard communication standard, and recordkeeping deficiencies. Lynnway faces proposed penalties totaling $267,081.

“This company was cited in 2014 for exposing employees to similar hazards,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton, in Boston. “It is critically important that employers remain vigilant about safety and implement required safety measures.”

OSHA also conducted a joint employer inspection, and determined that temporary workers from TrueBlue Inc. – doing business as PeopleReady – were also exposed to struck-by hazards. The agency cited the Dover, New Hampshire, staffing firm for one serious violation for a struck-by hazard, and proposed a penalty totaling $12,675.

Unchecked Safety Hazards Led to Severe Burns

OSHA cited a Billings general contractor and a Rock Springs, Wyoming, subcontractor for exposing workers to numerous safety hazards, causing an employee to suffer severe burns. The companies face $249,516 in proposed penalties.

On May 5, 2017, a Coleman Construction, Inc., employee suffered third-degree burns when compressed oxygen inside an underground duct caused a fire. The subcontractor was cited for failing to provide mechanical ventilation or an underground air monitoring system, and failing to report the hospitalization of the burned employee in a timely manner. The company faces $189,762 in proposed penalties.

OSHA also cited the general contractor, JTL Group, doing business as Knife River, for not ensuring that safety precautions were taken at the worksite. Proposed penalties total $59,754.

“Confined workspaces pose an immediate and substantial danger to workers,” said OSHA Area Director Arthur Hazen, in Billings. “It is vitally important that employers properly identify, test, control, and ventilate the atmosphere to ensure the safety of workers in confined spaces.”


Bimbo Bakeries USA Fined $122,625 for Multiple Workplace Hazards

OSHA cited Bimbo Bakeries USA for exposing workers to multiple hazards at its Bellevue commercial bakery. The company faces $122,625 in proposed penalties.

Investigators cited the bakery for three repeat and three serious violations including lack of machine guarding, failing to provide fall protection, and using a damaged electrical panel box. OSHA cited the company twice before for similar hazards.

“This company continues to expose workers to potentially serious injuries,” said OSHA Area Director Jeff Funke, in Omaha. “Employers should create safe workplaces by implementing effective safety and health programs.”

Anderson Foot and Ankle Clinic Fined $93,074 for Exposing Employees to Infectious Materials

OSHA cited Anderson Foot and Ankle Clinic for potentially exposing employees to infectious materials, and for violations of the hazard communication standard. The agency proposed penalties totaling $93,074.

OSHA inspectors cited the Rolla-based podiatry clinic for improperly handling medical waste, failing to review the exposure control plan annually, and failing to provide vaccines for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens. The clinic also was cited for failing to update safety data sheets, and for lacking a list of hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.

“Providing training and following required protocols will help protect this clinic’s staff from serious or life-threatening illnesses or injury,” said OSHA Area Director Bill McDonald, in St. Louis. “Employers should always encourage and require appropriate precautions.”

Best Home Furnishings Recertified for Exemplary Safety and Health Programs

Best Home Furnishings, County Line Division, of Cannelton, Indiana, received recertification as a Star level participant in Indiana’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Management commitment, employee involvement, on-site safety and health audits, hazard control, and proactive training have resulted in a successful safety and health culture for this worksite. “We are pleased to recognize Best Home Furnishings with recertification at the Star level,” said Rick Ruble, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor. “Their demonstrated commitment to health and safety is noteworthy and we are grateful for their leadership as an Indiana employer.”

Founded in 1962, Best Home Furnishings is a family-owned Indiana company that manufactures a full line of upholstered residential furniture in the USA. Best’s County Line Division, located in Cannelton, Indiana, is the nation’s leading manufacturer of wooden glide rockers crafted by 47 employees at a facility along the banks of the Ohio River. The County Line Division owes its heritage to the Fischer Chair Company which connects today’s operations to a history of continuous furniture making dating to 1864. Best Home Furnishings sells to over 3,000 retailers in 24 countries and employs nearly 1,000 Hoosiers.

An important element to participating in the state’s VPP is an incidence rate less than the national average. For a three-year average (2013–2015), Best Home Furnishings in Cannelton had a Total Case Incidence Rate (TCIR) of 4.7, which is four percent below the national industry average. For the same time period average, the site’s Days Away from Work, Restricted Activity or Job Transfer (DART) case incidence rate was 2.4, 20% below the national industry average.

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