OSHA recently announced a proposed rule to increase the safety of America’s construction sites. In addition to providing long-term clarity regarding crane operator certification requirements, the proposal reinstates the employer duty to ensure that a crane operator is qualified to safely operate equipment.
Under the proposed rule, a change to the categories of certifications for crane operators would ensure more operators are able to meet the requirement. The proposal discontinues a 2010 requirement, which never went into effect, that crane operator certification must include the crane lifting capacity for which the operator is certified. The proposal would expand the type of certification programs for crane operators.
OSHA recently published a final rule extending the operator certification compliance date until November 10, 2018, in order to provide the agency with additional time to complete this rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.
$281,220 Proposed Penalties for Verla International After Fatal Fire
OSHA has cited New Windsor, NY-based Verla International, LTD and proposed fines of $281,220 for failing to protect its employees from dangerous chemicals, and other hazards.
In November 2017, OSHA investigated the cosmetics manufacturer after an employee was fatally injured in a fire. The company was cited for 11 violations for fall, and compressed air hazards, and for failing to ensure proper electrical grounding and bonding to prevent flammable vapors from igniting; properly dispose of flammable materials; develop and implement an emergency response plan; provide employees with first responder awareness level training; and record a workplace fatality in its OSHA 300 illness and injury log.
“An employer’s adherence to safety and health standards, including the proper and safe transfer of flammable liquids, is critical to preventing fire, explosions, and other incidents that can seriously or fatally injure workers,” said OSHA Albany Area Office Director Robert Garvey, who also noted that OSHA cited the company in 2013 for similar violations.
Fatal Trench Collapse at Alabama Construction Site Incurs Multiple Penalties
OSHA has cited All Power Construction Corporation and staffing agency Labor Finders of Tennessee, Inc. after a temporary employee installing sewer lines suffered a fatal injury in a trench collapse. All Power Construction Corporation faces $139,684 in proposed penalties and Labor Finders of Tennessee Inc. faces the maximum allowed $12,934 in proposed penalties.
OSHA issued willful and serious citations to All Power Construction Corporation for allowing employees to work in a trench without cave-in protection, failing to provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench, and not having a competent person inspect the trench to identify potential hazards. OSHA cited the staffing agency for one serious violation for not ensuring that employees were trained on trenching and excavation hazards.
The investigation was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.
“Employers are responsible for ensuring their worksites are free of recognized hazards,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA Birmingham Area Office Director. “This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer followed the necessary steps to ensure that protective systems were used.”
Draft Agenda for Respiratory Health Comment Period Extended
NIOSH has extended to July 13 the deadline for comments on its draft National Occupational Research Agenda for Respiratory Health, which the agency announced on March 15, 2018. Written comments were to be received by May 14.
In its notice of the extension, NIOSH said it was done "in response to a request from an interested party." Comments may be submitted electronically, identified by CDC-2018-0024 and Docket Number NIOSH-302, or by mail to: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Docket Office, 1090 Tusculum Avenue, MS C-34, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998.
What’s on OSHA’s Latest Regulatory Agenda
The Department of Labor’s Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda includes 20 OSHA entries: 4 in the final rule stage, 7 in the proposed rule stage, and 9 in the prerule stage. Actions with significant implications for employers include the Standards Improvement Project IV (final rule stage); a deregulatory action under the Occupational Exposure to Beryllium standard (proposed rule stage); many revisions to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard (proposed rule stage): and revisions to the Emergency Response and Preparedness regulations (pre-rule stage).
Final rule stage:
- Standards Improvement Project IV—final rule expected July 2018. This project is intended to remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards. The revisions will address OSHA’s recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards, with most of the revisions to the construction standards.
- Respiratory Protection—final rule expected September 2018. Any person may submit to OSHA an application for approval of a new fit-test protocol; if the application meets certain criteria, OSHA will initiate a rulemaking proceeding to determine whether to list the new protocol as an approved fit-test protocol in appendix A of the standard. OSHA received a submission to consider three new quantitative fit-test protocols that reduce the time required to complete the fit test while maintaining acceptable test sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value. This rulemaking evaluates the efficacy of the submitted fit-test protocols and, if appropriate, will adopt them in appendix A.
Proposed rule stage:
- Occupational Exposure to Beryllium. OSHA says it has been negotiating with industry over the general industry standard and may propose revisions by December 2018.
- Cranes and Derricks in Construction—proposal expected December 2018. Proposed amendments to OSHA’s 2010 standards include correcting references to power line voltage for direct current (DC) voltages as well as alternating current (AC) voltages; broadening the exclusion for forklifts carrying loads under the forks from “winch or hook” to a “winch and boom”; clarifying an exclusion for work activities by articulating cranes; clarifying the use of demarcated boundaries for work near power lines; and correcting an error permitting body belts to be used as a personal fall arrest system rather than a personal fall restraint system.
- Crane Operator Qualification in Construction—this rulemaking seeks to identify criteria for employers to follow to ensure their crane operators are completely qualified to operate cranes safely on construction worksites.
- Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)—proposal expected February 2019. OSHA and other US agencies have been involved in a long-term project to negotiate a globally harmonized approach to classifying chemical hazards and providing labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) for hazardous chemicals. The result is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA incorporated the GHS into its HCS in March 2012 to specify requirements for hazard classification and to standardize label components and information on SDSs. However, the GHS has been updated several times since OSHA’s rulemaking. OSHA wants to harmonize the HCS to the latest edition of the GHS and codify a number of enforcement policies that have been issued since the 2012 standard.
- Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses—proposal expected July 2018. OSHA is seeking to amend its recordkeeping regulation to remove the requirement to electronically submit to OSHA information from the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) for establishments with 250 or more employees, which are required to routinely keep injury and illness records. Under the proposed rule, these establishments would be required to electronically submit only information from the OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
- Communication Tower Safety: Communication tower construction and maintenance activities are not adequately covered by current OSHA fall protection and personnel hoisting standards. OSHA plans to use information it will collect from a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel to identify effective work practices and advances in engineering technology that would best address industry safety and health concerns.
- Emergency Response and Preparedness: Some OSHA standards governing emergency response and preparedness were promulgated decades ago, and none were designed as comprehensive emergency response standards. OSHA is considering updating these standards with information gathered through a Request for Information (RFI) and public meetings.
- Lockout/Tagout: Recent technological advancements that employ computer-based controls of hazardous energy (e.g., mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, chemical, and radiation) conflict with OSHA’s existing lockout/tagout standard. The agency has recently seen an increase in requests for variances for these devices. An RFI is planned to help understand the strengths and limitations of this new technology as well as potential hazards to workers.
- Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance: A December 2016 RFI solicited information primarily from healthcare employers, workers, and other subject matter experts on the impacts of violence, prevention strategies, and other information that will be useful to the Agency. On January 10, 2017, OSHA granted petitions from a broad coalition of labor unions and National Nurses United asking for a standard on preventing workplace violence in healthcare.
- Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal: OSHA is exploring regulatory options to lower blood lead levels in affected workers. An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking would seek input from the public to help the agency identify possible areas of the lead standards for revision to improve protection of workers in industries and occupations where preventable exposure to lead continues to occur.
Training Lags for Non-native Workers in Small Construction Companies
Non-native workers in the United States employed in small construction companies received less safety and health training than non-native workers in larger companies, according to research by NIOSH and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). The research recently appeared in the journal Safety Science.
Construction is an industry with one of the highest work-related death rates in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 almost one fifth of work-related deaths occurred among construction workers. Training is a critical part of workplace safety and health, both when beginning a new construction job and then continuing on an ongoing basis.
Many of the construction industry’s 10 million-plus employees work in small companies, defined here by NIOSH as those with fewer than 50 employees. Previous research by NIOSH and ASSE found that workers in small companies, as well as young workers (under the age of 25) and non-native workers, face an increased risk for work-related illness and injury when compared to other workers. What was not previously understood was how training practices compared between small and large companies, and between native and non-native workers.
Accordingly, NIOSH investigators analyzed the results of an ASSE survey asking construction companies of different sizes and worker populations about their training practices. Data collected from 268 construction business representatives suggest that non-native workers in small companies received fewer hours of training, both when joining the company and on a monthly basis, than non-native workers in companies with 50 or more employees. In fact, compared to non-native workers in larger companies, non-native workers in small companies were significantly less likely to receive every type of safety training surveyed. This training included pre-work and job-specific instruction, as well as training required by federal and state regulations and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour training for construction. Furthermore, smaller companies were less likely to have supervisors on staff who speak the same language as non-English-speaking workers.
This research is important because it sheds light on the work-related safety and health training practices of small and large construction businesses. The findings highlight the need for work-related safety and health training specifically among non-native workers in smaller construction companies.
The online survey administered by ASSE to its members comprised 34 questions about on-the-job training in safety and health. In addition to asking about types and amount of training, the survey included questions about which workers receive occupational safety and health training, and how the company delivers and evaluates this training.
Work-Related Asthma Prevention Materials in Multiple Languages
To reach workers who do not speak fluent English, California’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program created a series of fact sheets about how working around disinfectants, fragrances, and cleaning products may cause asthma. The fact sheets are now available in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.
Pennsylvania Manufacturer Earns Star Site Status
OSHA announced it has certified MI Windows and Doors' manufacturing facility in Gratz, Pennsylvania, as a Star work site. Star is OSHA’s highest level of VPP recognition for workplace health and safety excellence.
The company's certification into OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs recognizes MI Windows and Doors' commitment to safety and health in the workplace. MI Windows and Doors, which produces new construction and replacement windows for businesses and homes, recorded an injury and illness rate 54% below the national average in the last three years.
"MI Windows and Doors has demonstrated a comprehensive and effective workplace safety and health program at its facility," said Michael Rivera, Acting OSHA Regional Administrator.
OSHA's VPP recognizes private industry and federal agency employers and employees that have implemented effective health and safety management systems and have maintained injury and illness rates below the national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries.
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