Contractors Cited for Cave-In Hazards at Jobsite

December 06, 2004

Failure to provide cave-in protection for workers at a Concord, NH, jobsite has resulted in two contractors receiving OSHA fines totaling $39,150.

In October, OSHA inspectors observed employees working at the jobsite in an unprotected, ten-foot deep excavation while installing drainage catch basins.

As a result, RockHill Contracting, Inc., of Deerfield, NH, and Sabbow & Co. (doing business as Phoenix Precast Products), of Concord, NH, were cited for allowing employees to work in an excavation that lacked protection against a collapse of its walls and for not providing a ladder or other safe means for workers to enter and exit the excavation.

RockHill, which OSHA had cited in Sept. 2003 for an unprotected excavation in Salem, NH, was fined $35,900 for this latest violation. The company was also was issued a willful citation for the unprotected trench and a serious citation for the lack of a safe means of entry and exit. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Sabbow was issued two serious citations for the same hazards and fined $3,250.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

New Alliances Focus on Machine Automation Industry, Colorado Safety Association

OSHA signed a national Alliance Nov. 29 with the Association for High Technology Distribution (AHTD) to advance safety and health for workers in the machine automation industry with a particular focus on machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures. OSHA's Denver Region formed an Alliance the same day with the Colorado Safety Association (CSA) to provide Colorado workers with training opportunities in contractor safety awareness, vehicle safety and first aid information such as cardio pulmonary resuscitation and the use of automated external defibrillators.

VPP Recognition Granted to Jacobsen

Jacobsen, a Textron Company, based in Johnson Creek, WI, joined an elite group of businesses last month when it was welcomed as a "Star" recipient in OSHA's prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The Johnson Creek operation manufactures turf maintenance equipment, personnel and burden carriers for the golf course, professional lawn care, sports field and general grounds maintenance markets. Kim Stille, area director at OSHA's Madison, WI office, said "the cooperation between management and employees at this site is key to their success and we hope the entire industry will seek to emulate their effort."

OSHA Takes First Steps to Update National Consensus Standards

OSHA is seeking public comments on its overall project to update agency standards that reference or that are based on outdated national consensus standards.

The agency is also seeking comments on the first rulemaking actions associated with the update project, a direct final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking to revoke five references to national consensus standards and industry standards that are outdated.

"It's important that we move forward to update OSHA standards that reference national consensus standards issued over 30 years ago," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Our standards have to be amended so that they reflect the advances in technologies and work processes that have changed workplace safety."

OSHA is engaging in an overall effort to update OSHA standards that reference or include language taken directly from outdated consensus standards. This includes updating or revoking outdated consensus standards incorporated by reference, and updating regulatory text of current OSHA rules that were adopted directly from the language of outdated consensus standards.

The agency will use a variety of regulatory approaches, including formal (notice and comment) rulemaking, direct final rulemaking, and technical amendments, for updating or revoking outdated consensus standards incorporated by reference, and updating regulatory text of current OSHA rules that were adopted directly from the language of outdated consensus standards.

In the first rulemaking action, OSHA is proposing to revoke references found in its standards on Temporary Labor Camps, Guarding of Portable Power Tools, Sawmills, Flammable and Combustible Liquids, and Arc Welding and Cutting, all of which reference outdated consensus or industry standards.

Revisions to the standards are being made through the direct final rule approach. This expedited approach saves regulatory resources over the more traditional rulemaking by streamlining one stage in the rulemaking process. In direct final rulemaking, OSHA publishes a final rule and proposed rule in the Federal Register at the same time. If no significant adverse comments are received on the direct final rule, it will become effective Feb. 22, 2005. However, if such comments are received, OSHA will withdraw the direct final rule and address the comments in a subsequent final rule document.

Public comments must be sent in triplicate by Dec. 27, 2004 to the Docket Office, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Room N-2625, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments on the direct final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking should reference Docket No.S-023 A and comments on the overall project to update OSHA standards that are based on national consensus standards should reference Docket No. S-023.

Association for High Technology Distribution, OSHA Sign Alliance

The Association for High Technology Distribution (AHTD) and OSHA recently joined forces to further the safety and health of workers in the machine automation industry.

AHTD and the agency signed a formal alliance that will provide industry workers and employers with information and guidance to raise awareness on the importance of proper selection, use, maintenance and installation of machine guarding equipment and the use of lockout/tagout procedures.

The alliance is designed to promote worker safety and health in industrial workplaces, including small businesses, and to provide industrial workers, supervisors and machine designers with relevant information and access to training resources on machine guarding equipment and proper use of lockout/tagout procedures.

AHTD will work with OSHA to provide expertise in developing and disseminating information on machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures and to offer assistance on the best means to communicate that information to industry workers and employers. Both organizations will participate together in forums, roundtable discussions and stakeholder meetings to discuss workplace hazards in the industry. Additionally, case studies will be developed and disseminated illustrating the business value of workplace safety and health.

The agency and AHTD will also share information with industry safety and health professionals regarding the Association's best practices or effective approaches and publicize the results through both organization's training programs, workshops, seminars, and lectures.

Formed in 1985, AHTD consists of 132 automation solution provider companies from throughout the United States and Canada and 77 manufacturers from around the world. The Association's education and training programs provide information on technologies and solutions for machinery operators, supervisors, and designers.

New OSHA Area Office Opens in Austin

OSHA has opened a new area office to serve 34 Texas counties.

Austin has almost doubled its population in the last 25 years to more than 500,000 people and is currently the 18th largest city in the United States.

The new Austin area office and the recently opened San Antonio office will allow OSHA to better assist the 51 central Texas counties by providing safety and health information and outreach to employers and employees, including bilingual assistance if needed.

In addition, OSHA's newest Texas offices have been meeting with the Mexican Consulate and other Hispanic worker advocates to address the needs of the diverse community in the area.

The Austin area office is located at 1033 La Posada, Suite 375. Local employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call reach the area office at (512) 374-0271 or OSHA's toll-free hotline number at 1-800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

OSHA Changes Recordkeeping Rules for Federal Agencies

 The new requirements, which will go into effect beginning January 1, 2005, are essentially identical to those used in the private sector.

According to the agency, while the regulation will become effective January 1, notices of violations will not be issued during the first year as long as agencies are making a reasonable effort to comply with the requirements. OSHA noted that it will launch a comprehensive outreach and compliance assistance effort early in the implementation period to educate and train federal agencies on the new recording requirements.

The agency says the new recordkeeping requirements will produce an information base that can assist federal agencies and their employees to maintain safe and healthy working conditions.

Smelting Plant Receives OSHA Citation Following Investigation of Fatal Accident

Globe Metallurgical Inc., has been cited by OSHA following the investigation of a fatal accident at the company's Selma, AL, plant. The agency also proposed $40,500 in total penalties against the company.

A company employee reportedly was exposed to temperatures above 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit in May when an electric arc furnace erupted. The worker later died from severe burns.

Globe Metallurgical Inc. received two serious citations directly related to the accident for failing to require furnace operators to wear aluminized jackets and failing to automatically charge furnaces. The proposed penalties for these two alleged violations total $10,000.

The agency also issued 11 additional serious citations, including lack of required written safety plans, fall hazards, unsafe electrical equipment and modifications to motorized equipment not authorized by the manufacturer. Proposed penalties total $30,500.

OSHA issues a serious citation 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. The company has 15 days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Ergonomics Committee Presents Recommendations to OSHA

The National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics (NACE) presented a litany of recommendations to OSHA following its final meeting in Washington, Nov. 17. Recommendations included improving ergonomics success story collection and distribution processes, ensuring that ergonomics is part of an overall safety and health program, and the identification of numerous research gaps, among others. The meeting culminated a process begun two years ago when NACE first received its charter by the Secretary of Labor. The committee was charted to provide advice and recommendations to help OSHA accelerate the decline of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.