Combustible Dust Explosion Inspections

February 16, 2009

The seminars will offer instructions on OSHA standards relating to combustible dust and best practices to protect employees against dust explosions. 

OSHA Challenge Improves Workplace Safety and Health

If you are an employer interested in developing an effective safety and health management system that follows the Voluntary Protection Programs’ model, then the OSHA Challenge Pilot is the answer. On average, Challenge participants’ injury and illness rates decrease by almost 40 percent. Upon successful completion, graduates from the Pilot may be considered for expedited approval to VPP. 

Brian Karnofsky Jailed for Muscular Dystrophy

Brian has been arrested and will be put in jail for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) lock-up. We need to collect $2,000 for the MDA to help bail him out. Your tax deductible donation will help MDA continue research into the causes and cures for 43 neuromuscular diseases.

If you enjoy reading the Safety Tip of the Week, now is the time to help us give hope to kids and families that need our help. 

Brian is the President of Environmental Resource Center. Many of you helped bail him out in 2007 and 2008, but he’s on his way back to jail this year. Don’t bother asking what crimes he’s committed—just know that we need your help bailing him out.

British Campaign Highlights Consequences of Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace

 A total of 61 people died and more than 14,000 suffered serious injury as a result of a slip, trip, or fall from height in British workplaces in 2008. These shocking statistics have prompted the HSE to launch the campaign to raise the level of awareness concerning these serious hazards.

The campaign’s goal is to encourage employers, in consultation with their employees, to “take action.”

Marcia Davies, Head of the Injury Reduction Program with HSE said, “People often view slips, trips and falls as trivial incidents, even comical but they are no joke to those who suffer major injuries, a lifetime of disability, time off work and in the worst cases death. We want to raise awareness of how these incidents can happen and how they can be easily avoided by taking common sense actions and precautions at no or little cost. If you spot a hazard in your workplace deal with it, don’t assume that somebody else will.”

“The lives of workers and their families are shattered by the serious consequences of these types of accidents. Simple measures introduced by businesses can make a positive difference to safety in the workplace.”

Fatalities and serious injuries arising from slips, trips, and fall incidents cost British society an estimated £700 million last year (over $1 billion).

The campaign is targeted at seven sectors where there is a prevalence of such injuries: food retail, catering and hospitality, food and drink manufacturing, building and plant maintenance, construction, healthcare, and education, although the risks can occur in any workplace.


CPSC Developing Guidance for Meeting Phthalates Requirements in Children’s Products

Beginning February 10, 2009, certain children’s toys and child care articles can no longer be sold, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported for sale in the United States if they contain more than 0.1% of specified phthalates. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled that this prohibition applies regardless of when the covered products were made.

The guidance is intended to help manufacturers, importers, retailers, and consumers determine what products are covered by the phthalate limits.

Until the draft guidance is finalized, CPSC intends, given its limited resources, to focus its enforcement efforts on the products most likely to pose a risk of phthalate exposure to children. Specifically, CPSC will focus its enforcement efforts on bath toys and other small, plastic toys (especially those made of polyvinyl chloride) that are intended for young children and can be put in the mouth.


Yacht Builder Fined More than $130,000 for Safety Violations

OSHA has proposed $130,200 in fines against Novis Marine Ltd., a yacht design and fabrication company in Fairport Harbor, for alleged willful, serious, and repeat violations of federal workplace safety standards.

OSHA’s investigation, opened in August 2008, resulted in one willful citation for fall hazards associated with open-sided floors and platforms, 23 alleged serious violations involving electrical and fire hazards, lack of personal protective equipment and stair railings, as well as machine guarding and training deficiencies. Repeat violations involved a lack of explosion proof equipment in paint spray booths and other potential fire hazards.

Novis Marine Ltd. designs and constructs yachts and sailboat spars for various brands. The company has been inspected by OSHA numerous times since 1995 and has been cited for a variety of safety and health violations.

Accidents in the Home Can be Underestimated

 In 2007, the CPSC identified this issue as one of the top five hidden home hazards.

CPSC data also shows that in 2006 there were 19,300 injuries associated with product instability or tip-overs involving children younger than 10. That number is almost half of all estimated instability and tip-over injuries during 2006. “If a piece of furniture is unstable or top-heavy, fasten it to a wall using brackets, screws, or wall straps,” says Stegelman. “Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers. Don’t keep remote controls, candy, or other tempting items on unstable stands or tables. A child might be enticed to reach for the top and pull down the object, the stand or both,” says Stegelman.

“Tie up loose cords, too—a child pulling on an electrical cord, or tripping on one, could pull an appliance off a stand,” says Stegelman. Other steps everyone can take to protect children at home include teaching children not to climb or jump on furniture and pushing the TV as far back as possible from the front of its stand.

Kids are also in danger of suffocation if they become accidentally trapped in a cabinet, toy chest, or laundry machine. In 2007 alone there were 3,270 injuries to children ages 2-14 involving toy chests. Always supervise children around any confined space and keep the doors closed and locked.

Toy chests that meet voluntary standards set by the CPSC are equipped with lid supports that hold the lid open in any position. The standards also call for ventilation holes to prevent suffocation. “If you have a toy chest with a lid that doesn’t stay open, the CPSC recommends you remove the lid or install a spring-loaded lid support,” says Stegelman.

“These are not hazards that kill thousands of children every year, like vehicle crashes or drownings, but they are so easy to prevent and the consequences can be so severe,” says Stegelman. “Don’t underestimate the possibility of a small child being crushed by unsteady furniture.”

Sunfield Inc. Faces Potential $300,000 Fine for Safety Violations

OSHA has proposed $302,000 in fines against Sunfield Inc. in Hebron, Ohio for alleged violations of federal workplace safety standards including three willful, 21 serious, and one repeat violation.

OSHA’s investigation, opened in August 2008, cited Sunfield Inc. for failure to ensure proper procedures were utilized for the control of hazardous energy during press machine maintenance and repairs; machine guarding violations; not providing eye protection or eye flushing stations; improper forklift operations; excessive air pressure for machinery cleaning operations; and improper electrical safety practices. The company has also been cited for a repeat violation for failure to provide required strain relief on flexible cords in the press and die maintenance areas.

Willful citations are issued when there is evidence of the intentional violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or plain indifference to its requirements. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same, or a substantially similar, violation that has become a final order.

Since 1997, Sunfield Inc. has been inspected by OSHA 13 times and has been cited 60 times for safety and health violations. The company employs 100 workers at its Hebron plant and specializes in processing stamped metal parts for automobile companies.

Sunfield Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of the latest citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

O.C.E. Warehouse and Distribution Center Fined $123,100 for Workplace Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has cited O.C.E. Warehouse and Distribution Center in Edison, New Jersey for alleged violations and is proposing $123,100 in penalties.

OSHA initiated its inspection on July 29, 2008, in response to a referral from the Edison New Jersey Department of Public Safety-Division of Fire alleging the facility’s fire exits and aisles were blocked and that unsecured merchandise was being stored on racks. The inspection resulted in citations for two willful violations, with a penalty of $100,000, and 12 serious violations, with a penalty of $23,100. The Edison facility employs 82 people.

The willful violations include failure to continuously maintain exit routes free of obstructions or impediments and for storing materials in damaged racks. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Some of the serious violations include the company’s failure to properly identify exit doors, supply employees with personal protective equipment, remove defective forklift trucks, provide adequate training, provide adequate evaluations and procedures for industrial forklift operators, and provide proper storage in workspace areas around electrical equipment. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Commercial Laundry Ordered to Pay Whistleblower Back Wages


The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment ordering Able Linen, an Auburn, New York commercial laundry, and its owner to compensate an employee who was fired for filing a complaint with OSHA about potentially unsafe conditions at the laundry.

The judgment requires that Party Rental Enterprises Inc., doing business as Able Linen Service, and Daryle Logudice, the company’s chief executive officer, pay the former employee $20,000 in back wages, plus $17,000 in punitive damages, and expunge any references to suspension and discharge from the employee’s personnel file.

The defendants are also permanently enjoined from violating the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and from discharging or discriminating against employees who file complaints with OSHA, cooperate with OSHA investigations, or exercise their workplace safety and health rights. Finally, the OSHA whistleblower poster will be posted at company locations in Auburn, Cicero and Liverpool, New York, and the OSHA whistleblower fact sheet will be provided to current employees and new hire employees to ensure they are aware of their rights.

The judgment is the result of extensive investigation and legal activity by the New York regional offices of OSHA and the solicitor of labor. The employee filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA in 2005. OSHA found merit to the complaint and ordered the employee’s reinstatement and payment of accrued wages and benefits. However, the company and its owner did not respond to the investigation, the order, administrative subpoenas, summonses, and other subsequent legal actions until after the Department of Labor secured a default judgment from the court in August 2008.

“Ignoring the law is no refuge from being subject to it,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “This employer’s ongoing recalcitrance delayed but did not derail our efforts on behalf of the employee. We will not hesitate to pursue all appropriate legal remedies to protect employees’ rights to contact OSHA with their safety and health concerns.”

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act protects employees’ rights to file a complaint with OSHA or to bring safety and health issues to the attention of their employers without fear of termination or other reprisal. 

NIOSH Presents First Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards

Noise-induced hearing loss is a permanent but preventable problem.  The awards were presented at the 34th Annual Hearing Conservation Conference, held on February 12-15, 2009, in Atlanta, Georgia.

The award honors hearing loss prevention programs in the construction, manufacturing, and service sectors. In addition, a fourth award recognizes an organization for innovation in hearing loss prevention and dedication to fostering and implementing new and unique advances in the prevention of hearing loss. Mention of specific companies does not represent a commercial endorsement by NIOSH.

“We are pleased to be able to recognize these organizations for their leadership in preventing work-related hearing loss,” said NIOSH Acting Director Christine Branche, Ph.D. “NIOSH is constantly looking to elevate the quality of hearing loss prevention programs, and this is an excellent opportunity to share new ideas and best practices to help improve many areas in worker safety and health.”

Recipients include:

  • Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford Facility, Connecticut. Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. Company, was recognized for the comprehensive approach taken, aiming at excellence in every component of the hearing loss prevention program; for exceptional commitment to noise control and for promoting the active involvement of the workforce in their efforts.
  • Domtar Paper Company, Kingsport Mill, Tennessee. Domtar Paper Company was recognized for the comprehensive integration of their hearing loss prevention program and a demonstrated commitment to extend hearing loss prevention practices beyond the occupational work environment into recreational and community activities enjoyed by their workers and their families.
  • The Montgomery County Water Services (MCWS), Ohio. Public entities in Ohio do not fall under the purview of Federal or State Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but the MCWS proactively addresses each of the components of an effective hearing loss prevention program, often extending beyond minimal regulatory requirements. The Montgomery County Water Services was recognized for the comprehensive approach taken, aiming at excellence in every component of the hearing loss prevention program; for developing innovative strategies for addressing the variable work routine of its noise-exposed workers and for promoting the active involvement of the workforce in its safety and health efforts.
  • Sensaphonics Hearing Conservation, Inc., Chicago, Illinois. Sensaphonics was recognized for being a pioneer in combining products, audiology services, and education to reach their hearing loss prevention goals, for a culture of innovation and educational outreach, and for having raised awareness of the importance of hearing loss prevention among audiologists, the music industry, and the general public.

NIOSH recommends removing hazardous noise from the workplace whenever possible and using hearing protectors in those situations where dangerous noise exposures have not yet been controlled or eliminated. Through research and through the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) cross-sector program, NIOSH has developed a number of resources to assist workers and employers in reducing noise exposure, as well as in finding and fitting the proper kind of hearing protection and determining hazardous levels of noise. 

Employers to Celebrate Safety Break for Oregon May 13

Employers across Oregon will be celebrating workplace safety and health with award programs, barbeques, and other special events during the seventh-annual Safety Break for Oregon on May 13, 2009.

Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) coordinates the one-day event, designed to raise awareness and promote the value of workplace safety and health in preventing injuries and illnesses. The voluntary event—which occurs on the second Wednesday in May—is designed to be flexible to meet an employer’s safety and health program needs.

“My hope is for businesses to use Safety Break for Oregon to celebrate their safety and health achievements,” said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator. “It’s also a great time to talk with employees about ways to create safer workplaces.”

A Safety Break celebration is also planned on the Capitol steps in Salem, Oregon at noon on May 13, 2009. The event will feature remarks from Wood, Oregon legislators, and labor representatives.

The theme for this year’s event, “Working Hard at Playing it Safe,” encourages employee involvement and management cooperation. Companies planning to participate in the events are encouraged to sign up online. 

Monsanto Aviation of Chesterfield, Missouri, Earns OSHA’s VPP Star


OSHA has designated Monsanto Aviation Inc., Chesterfield, Missouri, as a Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) star site, the agency’s highest recognition for meeting or exceeding workplace safety and health standards.

Monsanto Aviation, which has 25 employees who operate and maintain four company aircraft, earned VPP star recognition following a comprehensive onsite evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.

“Monsanto Aviation has gone above and beyond in establishing a culture of workplace safety,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City.

More than 2,160 worksites nationwide have earned entry into OSHA’s VPP. Employers that have been accepted into the VPP represent more than 270 industries. Requirements include a high degree of management commitment and employee involvement; a high-quality worksite analysis, hazard prevention, and control program; and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each of these elements must be effective, in place, and in operation for at least one year before a company can apply to join the VPP. Companies in the VPP achieve average injury and illness rates 50% below the Bureau of Labor Statistics average for other companies in their respective industries.


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