Ergonomics Guidelines Announced for Retail Grocery Stores

May 27, 2004

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw announced the release of industry-specific guidelines for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in grocery stores. 

These voluntary guidelines are intended to build upon the progress that the grocery store industry has made in addressing the causes of these injuries.

"Working with trade associations, labor organizations and individual grocery stores, we have developed these guidelines which are practical tools that have been shown to reduce work-related injuries in retail grocery stores," Henshaw said. "It has been a pleasure to work with organizations that strive to improve workplace safety and health and that are willing to develop and share practices like these so others can benefit."

The guidelines emphasize various solutions that have been implemented by grocery stores across the country and have been effective in reducing work-related injuries and illnesses. An "Implementing Solutions" section offers examples of ergonomic solutions that may be used to control exposure to ergonomic risk factors in grocery stores. The section includes corrective actions, including checkout, shelf stocking, bakery, produce and meat departments.

"Many grocery stores have taken substantial steps to address work-related MSDs," added Henshaw, "and these facilities demonstrate methods that are available to better protect workers in grocery stores from injury."

OSHA will be working with trade, labor, and professional organizations to assure these guidelines and other effective practices are accessible and implemented where appropriate. OSHA's free consultation service will be available to assist small employers.

OSHA Cites Company for Failing to Abate Safety Hazards; Proposes $42,000 in Penalties

OSHA has cited Square One Armoring Co., and proposed penalties totaling $42,000, for failing to abate safety hazards cited during a July inspection of one of the company's Miami shops.

After the company failed to notify OSHA that cited hazards had been corrected, the agency conducted a follow-up inspection on April 14 at the 1435 NW 82nd Ave. location. During the inspection, the OSHA investigator observed that the company had failed to install machine guards and had not implemented or maintained a written hazard communication program.

"This company continued to expose workers to serious risks of amputation and hearing loss after the hazardous conditions and the need for abatement were brought to their attention," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director.

OSHA issued two citations for alleged failure-to-abate violations, with proposed penalties of $36,000, for failing to install a guard on a bench grinder, and for not implementing and maintaining a written communication program for employees exposed to chemicals.

The company also received a repeat citation, with a proposed penalty of $6,000, for failing to install guards on chop saws. The agency issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and that citation has become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The company, which re-fits vehicles with armored or protective plating, has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Cites Manufacturer for Safety and Health Hazards After SST Program Inspection

OSHA has cited Doncasters Inc. and proposed $41,650 in penalties for alleged safety and health violations observed during an inspection conducted under the agency's Site-Specific Targeting program (SST).

The SST program focuses agency enforcement efforts on workplaces where injury and illness data show workers to be at higher risk of exposure to safety and health hazards.

"Preventing workers' injuries, illnesses and deaths is our goal," said John Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director. "This program gets us to work sites where injury and illness rates are high."

Deifer added that data alone cannot predict that an accident will occur, so a percentage of employers with low rates are also scheduled for an inspection.

During the comprehensive OSHA inspection, which began Jan. 22, 2004, inspectors observed over 15 safety and health hazards at the Rincon plant, which forms turbine blades from steel rods.

The company was cited for 12 alleged serious violations, with proposed penalties of $22,950. Included in the citations were the lack of a lockout/tagout program that renders machinery inoperable during maintenance or repair; eye wash stations and showers for employees working with corrosive chemicals; audiometric testing and training for employees working in areas with noise above the permissible levels; and properly guarded machinery parts.

OSHA also issued three alleged repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $17,700, for an improperly positioned work rest on a bench grinder, which also lacked a guard, exposing employees to flying debris; and failure to close electrical panel box openings, called "knockouts". The agency issued an additional $1,000 proposed penalty for failing to maintain an accurate injury and illness log.

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

The Dow Chemical Company Renews Alliance with OSHA

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw signed an Alliance renewal with The Dow Chemical Company extending the agreement for an additional two years.

"Working with The Dow Chemical Company over the past year and a half has shown that the progress we've made will be enhanced by continuing our Alliance," Henshaw said. "I'm pleased that Dow wants to continue working with us in a collaborative relationship."

Added David Graham, Dow's Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety: "We're excited at the opportunity to renew our Alliance with OSHA. Working directly together allows both of us to pool our collective technical expertise to lead to ever-improving worker safety."

OSHA and Dow Chemical's Alliance was first signed in January 2003 to allow both organizations to work together on providing technical knowledge and guidance on process safety management (PSM), reducing exposure to ergonomic-related hazards, and improving overall workplace safety and health programs. (OSHA's PSM standard establishes requirements to prevent or minimize the potential for fire or explosion due to dangerous chemicals).

Since then, OSHA and Dow have presented workshops on the PSM standard and reactive chemicals and are also working together to develop the first section of OSHA's electronic assistance tool for ammonia refrigeration. In addition, safety managers at Dow are participating on the editorial boards for various chemical-related Safety and Health Topics pages on OSHA's website, including PSM, Reactive Chemicals, Ammonia Refrigeration, and Isocyanates. Dow has also worked with OSHA to develop case studies on ergonomics and motor vehicle safety. The ergonomics case study is available online and discusses how Dow has applied the "Six Sigma" management system strategy to identify and implement ergonomics solutions. ("Six Sigma" is a process-oriented approach to problem solving that emphasizes a four-step improvement methodology of measure, analyze, improve and control). Two motor vehicle safety studies are currently in development.

In addition to a continued focus on ergonomics and process safety management, OSHA and Dow plan on holding more PSM workshops for OSHA staff in the Atlanta and Dallas regions. Finally, working through other Alliances (e.g., the Reactives Alliance), OSHA and DOW will address additional safety and health issues that have an impact on the chemical industry.

Dow is a leader in science and technology, providing innovative chemical, plastic and agricultural products and services to many consumer markets. Dow and its approximately 46,000 employees serve customers in more than 180 countries and a wide range of markets including food, transportation, health and medicine, personal and home care, and building and construction, among others.

Two New VPP Initiatives Encourage More Companies to Strive for Excellence


"We want to continually improve OSHA's cooperative programs and provide opportunities for more employers and employees who want to work with OSHA to create safer and healthier workplaces." said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Encouraging many more facilities to continuously improve safety and health is the most effective way to assure compliance and further reductions in injuries, illnesses and fatalities."

Fifteen companies, associations, and a Federal agency will participate in the pilots based on their commitment to improve workplace safety and health programs. OSHA will evaluate both pilots after the first year.

Open to private or public-sector employees, Challenge provides a roadmap to improve performance and ultimately to VPP Merit or Star. The Challenge program outlines the requirements needed to develop and implement effective safety and health management systems through incremental steps. A number of companies and associations have stepped forward as Challenge Administrators to work with employers as they move through the steps of the Challenge program. Charter Administrators are Associated Builders and Contractors, The Associated General Contractors of America, Black & Veatch, Construction Safety Council, Curtis Lumber Company, Independent Electrical Contractors, NEA-The Association of Union Constructors, and Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association.

To participate, corporations agree to strive for corporate-wide VPP implementation and to support the programs through mentoring and outreach activities. Streamlined application and onsite evaluation processes are used to facilitate implementation. Charter Participants are Dow Chemical Company, General Electric Company, Georgia Pacific Corporation, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Maytag Corporation, and United States Postal Service.

The Voluntary Protection Programs promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. VPP worksites save millions each year because their injury and illness rates are more than 50 percent below the averages for their industries. Approval into VPP is OSHA's official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have implemented exemplary safety and health management systems.

OSHA Offers Tips for Working in Hot Weather

The sun and warm weather of summer can also bring special hazards for those working outdoors. To help employers and workers stay safe throughout the summer months, OSHA offers tips that can help prevent many heat-related deaths, illnesses, and injuries.

"The hot weather can present additional hazards to those who work outdoors or in very hot environments," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "It's important that employers and workers know how to reduce heat related illnesses and fatalities. Simple precautions can often save lives."

The combination of heat, humidity and physical labor can lead to fatalities. The two most serious forms of heat related illnesses are heat exhaustion (primarily from dehydration) and heat stroke, which could be fatal. Signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke need immediate attention. Recognizing those warning signs and taking quick action can make a difference in preventing a fatality.

The card also describes common physical features of skin cancer that can be caused by exposure to the sun.

The fact sheet also offers links for teenagers working at summer jobs.

OSHA's Heat Stress Card lists tips and precautions to prevent many heat-related deaths and injuries.  It offers a quick reference about heat-related injuries, including warning signs, symptoms and early treatment.