Congress Overturns OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

March 27, 2017

With just one sentence, Congress overturned OSHA’s rule that required employers to keep records of accidents and injuries for at least five years:

“Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness” (published at 81 Fed. Reg. 91792 (December 19, 2016)), and such rule shall have no force or effect.”

The rule being overturned had required large employers in hazardous industries to keep their health and safety records for five years. Now, employers can destroy their Occupation Safety and Health Administration in as little as 6 months. The records are used by OSHA, employers, and workers to identify hazardous conditions and take corrective action to prevent future injuries and exposures. Without adequate data, it could be difficult to identify and fix hazards and incident patterns that could cause illnesses, severe injuries, or even deaths on the job. OSHA staffing is so low that it is only able to inspect workplaces once every 145 years (on average). Therefore, the agency relies on more than six months of records to recognize and fix problems. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

Effective Date of OSHA Beryllium Rule Delayed

OSHA announced a delay in the effective date of the rule titled "Occupational Exposure to Beryllium," from March 21, 2017, to May 20, 2017. Beryllium can harm the health of exposed workers, leading to chronic or acute beryllium disease and lung cancer.

The delay will allow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration an opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule, in keeping with a January 20, 2017, White House memorandum, titled "Regulatory Freeze Pending Review."

OSHA published the final rule on January 9, 2017, and previously announced the effective date would be postponed to March 21, 2017. On March 1, 2017, OSHA sought comments on a further extension to May 20, 2017.

OSHA has now determined that the further delay is appropriate for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy.

The extension of the effective date will not affect the compliance dates of the beryllium rule. For more information, see the OSHA web page.

MSHA Proposed Delay In Effective Date of Examinations Rule

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed a delay in the effective date of the final rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines from May 23, 2017, to July 24, 2017.

MSHA is proposing to delay the effective date to assure that mine operators and miners affected by the final rule have the training and compliance assistance they need. The proposed delay is also consistent with the January 20, 2017, White House memorandum, titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”

MSHA published the final rule on January 23, 2017. The agency is soliciting comments on the limited issue of whether to extend the effective date to July 24, 2017, and whether this extension offers an appropriate length of time for compliance.

CDC MMWR: Self-Reported Work-Related Injury or Illness – Washington

This Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) looks at data from the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (WA BRFSS) to gather information on work-related injury or illness. During 2011–2014, 6.4% of Washington workers reported work-related injuries or illnesses during the previous year. Work-related injuries or illnesses were significantly associated with industry and occupation, male gender, lower socioeconomic status, chronic health conditions, and substance use.

Safety Violations by Universal Energy, Price Gregory International, and Quanta Power Generation Lead to $882,000 in Fines

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development has issued a total of 24 citations between three different companies representing a multi-employer construction site. Universal Energy received 13 willful citations with associated fines of $182,000 relating to the department’s inspection at the Municipal Light and Power Plant 2A Expansion project, located in Anchorage. Price Gregory International, Inc., received five willful citations with associated fines of $280,000, and Quanta Power Generation, Inc., received six willful citations with associated fines of $420,000. Municipal Light and Power was not cited due to their prompt evacuation of the site when unsafe conditions were identified.

On September 17, 2016, a pressure relief valve was removed from a steam piping system and the system was placed into service without any other safeguards present. Two days later, an event occurred that caused sudden high pressures and violent shaking of the system. Municipal Light and Power asked Universal Energy operators to shut down the system to prevent a catastrophic failure, which could have resulted in injuries or fatalities and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. However, operators delayed shut-down, causing Municipal Light and Power to evacuate their employees until the area could be deemed safe.

“Jeopardizing worker safety with hazardous work environments will be met with strong enforcement action,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “Lives could have been lost in this incident, and these employers must be held to the safety standards our laws demand.”

The citations, which carry the maximum penalty allowed under the law, were issued as “willful” due to the indifference the employers displayed towards occupational safety and health standards and the suppression of employee concerns regarding an unsafe work environment. Each employer has the right to formally contest their respective citations.

OSHA and Missouri Builders, Contractors Continue Alliance to Provide Outreach, Protect Workers

OSHA and Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.-Heart of America (ABC-HOA) have renewed an agreement—signed originally in January 2015—to address struck-by, fall, caught-in-between and electrical hazards in the construction industry. The alliance will continue to provide chapter members and others with information, guidance and access to training resources. These resources are designed to help protect the safety and health of construction industry workers and promote understanding of the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The two-year alliance calls for both organizations to use relevant injury, illness, and hazard exposure data when appropriate to help identify areas of emphasis for alliance awareness, outreach, and communication activities. Alliance participants will convene and participate in the organization's conferences, local meetings, and other special events on workplace hazards. They will also collaborate to forge innovative solutions in the workplace and share information on safety and health issues.

OSHA's Alliance Program connects the agency with groups committed to worker safety and health in an effort to reduce workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Groups include unions, consulates, trade or professional organizations, businesses, faith- and community-based organizations, and educational institutions. Alliance members work together to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"Workplaces are made safer when everyone works together to recognize hazards and follow safety protocols and procedures," said Kimberly Stille, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City. "OSHA has found alliances like these set the standard for sharing best practices, educating employers and workers, and ensuring that safety is not compromised on the job."

OSHA, Nebraska Alliance Members to Train, Protect Workers in Meat-Packing, Other Industries

OSHA's Omaha office, the Nebraska Safety Council, Great Plains Safety and Health Organization, and National Safety Council Nebraska have formed an alliance to provide the meat-packing industry—and other industries in Nebraska—with information, guidance and access to training resources to help protect the safety and health of workers.

The alliance focuses on common workplace hazards in the meat-packing industry such as slips/trips/and falls, noise, energy control, machine guarding, electrical, process safety management, back injuries, repetitive motion disorders and other ergonomic-related hazards.

The two-year alliance calls for OSHA and its partners to share best practices and review goals quarterly. Alliance members will convene and participate in forums, roundtable discussions, or stakeholder meetings on workplace hazards, and work to forge innovative solutions in the workplace or to provide input on safety and health issues.

"Workplace safety is achieved when everyone works together to recognize hazards and follow safety protocols and procedures," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "OSHA has found an alliance like this sets the standard for sharing best practices, educating employers and workers and ensuring that safety is not compromised on the job."

Alliance Formed to Protect Heavy Equipment Operators in Illinois

OSHA and the Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program, Operation Engineers, Local 150 in Wilmington, Illinois, have signed a two-year renewal of their alliance to provide information, guidance, and access to training resources for heavy equipment employers and workers.

First signed on May 7, 2008, the five-year alliance continues the joint effort to:

  • Develop effective training programs for local industry
  • Provide safety seminars and talks
  • Encourage worker participation in employer safety and health programs
  • Share information on occupational safety and health laws

Together, the agency will work with the organization to promote a culture of worker safety and health within the heavy equipment operators' industry—including small businesses and apprenticeship training programs—through development and sharing of information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards associated with cranes, earth moving, and other construction equipment, including operations associated with trenching and excavations and hazardous waste sites.

OSHA and ASIP will also work together to promote awareness of the agency's rulemakings, enforcement initiatives, and safety campaigns, including an understanding of workers' rights and employer responsibilities. The partners will also speak, exhibit and appear at OSHA or ASIP conferences and apprenticeship training programs.

"In collaboration with ASIP, we at OSHA can help industry employers train and protect their employees from preventable workplace injuries," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "Our alliance allows to us to work together to foster education and provide training to improve the safety of workers in these high hazard industries throughout Illinois."

SIRS Inc. Recertified in Indiana’s Workplace Safety and Health Excellence Program

Southern Indiana Resource Solutions Incorporated (SIRS, Inc.), of Boonville, Indiana, received consecutive certification as a participating organization in the Indiana Safety and Health Recognition Program (INSHARP). INSHARP sites are small Hoosier companies with exemplary workplace safety and health culture and achievement.

SIRS, Inc., provides supportive services for adults and children with disabilities. Services offered include community rehabilitation, residential habilitation, facility group rehabilitation, employment services, and transportation services. The facility includes two residential homes and also leases office space to Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) and a daycare. The Booneville location houses the company’s headquarters, while operations are also carried out at four other Indiana locations: Troy, Jasper, Tell City, and Ferdinand.

“SIRS, Inc. not only provides important services to citizens across the state but also supports a culture of workplace safety and health for its employees,” said Commissioner of Labor Rick J. Ruble. “The Indiana Department of Labor is proud to recertify SIRS Inc. for outstanding achievement in occupational safety and health.”

The site’s three-year workplace injury and illness rate is approximately 35% lower than the national industry average of 5.7.

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