Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals to be Adopted by OSHA

September 11, 2006

OSHA will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Sept. 12 seeking public comment on the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Adoption of the GHS by OSHA will require OSHA to propose changes to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).

The GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals by providing a comprehensive approach to defining the health and physical hazards of chemicals, creating classification processes, and communicating hazard information through uniform labels and safety data sheets.

“GHS is expected to bring more consistency and clarity, both from a national and international perspective, to hazardous chemical regulations in the workplace,” said OSHA Administrator Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. “The diverse and sometimes conflicting national and international requirements can create confusion among employers who seek to use hazard information to effectively protect their employees. One of the many benefits of adopting GHS is that it would provide a consistent format for labels and safety data sheets, making the information easier to comprehend and access when making hazard assessments.”

The GHS has been adopted by the United Nations with a goal of broad international adoption by 2008. The adoption of the GHS is expected to facilitate international trade by increasing the consistency among the laws in different countries that currently require different information be provided to employers and employees about chemicals during their production, transportation, use, and disposal based on jurisdiction.

Written comments (in triplicate) must be submitted not later than Nov. 13, 2006, to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H-022K, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 

Central Illinois Golf Course Superintendents Join OSHA in Alliance

Golf-course groundskeepers are among the employees who likely will benefit from a new alliance for safety and health signed recently by the Central Illinois Gold Course Superintendents Association (CIGCSA) and OSHA.

"Golf-course workers face the same risks as other types of landscapers," said William Donovan, OSHA acting area director, Peoria, Ill. "This alliance will help us to prevent amputations, crushing injuries and electrical and chemical hazards often experienced by workers in this broad field. We are genuinely proud to have the CIGCSA in our corner."

Under the alliance, signed in September, CIGCSA will work with OSHA to develop training and education programs on work-related safety issues. The alliance calls for information-sharing regarding best practices or effective approaches and publicizing those practices through materials, training programs, workshops, seminars or lectures.

Officials from the OSHA and CIGCSA will speak, exhibit and appear at conferences, local meetings and events, and they will disseminate information to Central Illinois workers.


OSHA Fines Madison Kipp $123,000 following Finger Amputation

OSHA proposed $123,000 in fines last week against Madison-Kipp Corp., Madison, Wis., for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. The agency opened two inspections at the aluminum die-casting company's two sites in Madison on March 7 based on OSHA's site-specific targeting program. OSHA authorities then expanded into a third inspection on March 22 to evaluate the company's process safety management program.

The inspections resulted in citations issued to Madison-Kipp, alleging one willful and 17 serious violations of federal workplace safety and health regulations. The alleged willful violation addressed the company's failure to guard a die-cast machine, which resulted in the amputation of one worker's fingers.

Serious citations were issued for alleged workplace health violations, including failure to implement an adequate process hazard analysis, failure to implement a hazardous waste operation and emergency response program and to train workers in those requirements, and failure to provide medical evaluations and fit testing for safety equipment. Allegations of serious safety violations included issues involving control of energy sources and standardized lockout devices and machine guarding.

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. Violations are categorized as willful when there is either an intentional disregard, or plain indifference to, employee safety or OSHA regulations.

"When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace free of such hazards, the results can be tragic for workers and their families," said OSHA Area Director Kimberly Stille, Madison.


Dominion Marine, PRC Environmental, and Advanced Demolition Fined After 2 Worker Fatalities

OSHA has cited Dominion Marine Group, PRC Environmental and Advanced Demolition with proposed penalties totaling $85,575 following the investigation of a March 21 accident that resulted in the death of two workers.

The Dominion Marine employees were recovering barges sunk during Hurricane Katrina. One employee died from inhaling hydrogen sulfide fumes as he pumped water from a barge compartment. The second employee died during a rescue attempt.

"This tragic accident would have been prevented if the employer had tested for toxic gases and followed OSHA's confined-space regulations," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson, Miss., area director.

OSHA issued one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $56,000 to Dominion Marine for allowing employees to enter an area known to contain hydrogen sulfide gas without properly testing to assure the toxic-gas level was within safe limits.

The company also received five serious citations with proposed penalties of $13,600. The citations included a failure to conduct required tests before performing "hot work" in an area where flammable gas may have been present, a failure to properly secure compressed gas cylinders, and using damaged welding-gas pressure regulators.

PRC Environmental received 10 serious citations for similar violations, with proposed penalties totaling $15,675. OSHA issued one serious citation to Advanced Demolition with a proposed penalty of $300.


Triple Fatality at Mississippi Work Site Results in OSHA Citations for Oil and Gas Service Company

OSHA has cited Stringer Oilfield Services and proposed penalties totaling $40,300 following the investigation of a fatal accident at a Raleigh, Miss., work site.

The accident occurred on June 5 as employees welded pipes connecting used oil storage tanks. Vapors in one tank that contained oil residue traveled through the piping. Sparks then ignited the vapors. Subsequent explosions and fires resulted in the death of three workers and the hospitalization of another.

"These employees' lives could have been saved if this employer had followed the OSHA standards requiring purging of containers and piping prior to welding," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson, Miss., area director.

OSHA issued 13 serious citations to the company. The citations included allowing welding in an explosive atmosphere; failure to properly ventilate or take measures to prevent heat or sparks from entering piping and tanks; failure to provide fall protection for employees working on top of oil tanks; and lack of written safety programs for hazard communication, confined spaces and training for employees.


Pullman Power Fined Following Fatal Fire


OSHA cited Pullman Power LLC for alleged workplace safety and health hazards after a fatal fire in March in the smokestack of the American Electric Power Plant in Moundsville, W.Va. Proposed penalties total $107,100. Pullman Power LLC, with headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is the job site general contractor at the plant.

OSHA initiated its investigation on March 5 in response to a report of the fatality, which resulted from a fire inside the smokestack that destroyed the fiberglass liner that was being installed.

"The company failed to implement procedures to control ignition sources in operations involving highly flammable, combustible and easily ignitable material," says Stanley Elliott, director of OSHA's Charleston, W.Va., area office. "This was a major hazard."

According to Elliott, the investigation yielded one alleged willful violation with a penalty of $63,000. There were seven alleged serious violations with a penalty of $44,100.

The alleged willful violation addresses the company's permitting employees to smoke inside the smokestack near the highly flammable material. Alleged serious violations include the lack of employee training on the hazards inside the smokestack, the use of infrared heaters around flammable material, the company's failure to perform air monitoring of the dust while grinding materials, the lack of employee training on the use of chemicals, the company's failure to provide a rescue plan or procedures to rescue personnel from the top of the 974-foot smokestack, the lack of procedures to prevent hot slag from falling into the areas where flammable materials were, and the lack of a fire watch in the area where cutting took place.

Federal Advisory Committee Meeting

OSHA is holding an open meeting of the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) in Arlington, Va., on Thursday, Sept. 28.

The council will meet from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in Conference Room 2537G-2540K at the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s offices, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va.

The 16-person council advises OSHA on issues concerning the safety and health of federal employees. The Council also helps establish and maintain effective safety initiatives and policies in all federal agencies. Chaired by the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, it includes eight labor representatives and eight management representatives appointed by the Secretary of Labor.

Agenda items for the September meeting include:


  • GAO audit on federal workplace safety and health
  • Safety and Health and Return to Employment (SHARE) Initiative
  • Federal agency recordkeeping
  • Federal agency training
  • Pandemic flu guidance for federal agencies

Written comments and requests to make oral presentations may be submitted to the Office of Federal Agency Programs, Room N-3622, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Presentation requests should specify the amount of time desired, the capacity in which the person will appear, and a brief outline of the presentation. Requests to speak may be granted by the Council Chairperson as time permits.

Individuals with disabilities wishing to attend the meeting should contact Diane Brayden at (202) 693-2187 not later than Sept. 18.

City of Portland Expands Involvement in SHARP Program


The Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has signed a collaboration agreement with the City of Portland to promote involvement by city bureaus in Oregon OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

SHARP is a recognition program that provides solutions for Oregon employers to work with their employees to find and correct hazards, develop and implement effective safety and health programs, continuously improve, and become self-sufficient in managing workplace safety and health issues. Currently, 108 employers in Oregon participate in SHARP, including the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services. Other city bureaus have indicated a commitment to work toward involvement in SHARP.

The agreement signed Tuesday places responsibility for initial safety and health evaluations on SHARP-trained City of Portland employees. These evaluations set a baseline and determine the readiness of a city bureau to participate in Oregon OSHA’s SHARP program.

Involvement in SHARP has already improved safety for City of Portland bureaus. The city’s Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant reduced its lost-workday injury cases 79 percent and reduced annual workers' compensation costs 64 percent through ongoing collaboration with Oregon OSHA's consultation program and SHARP. According to the city’s Bureau of General Services Risk Management Division, between 1996 and 2005 the City of Portland reduced the number of workers’ compensation injury claims by 45 percent through improved safety and health management practices. That reduction translates into 200 fewer workers being seriously injured in 2005 than 10 years previous.

The agreement does not restrict Oregon OSHA regulatory enforcement for workplace safety at city work sites, and employees retain all workplace safety and health rights contained in the Oregon Safe Employment Act. Oregon OSHA retains final approval of any city bureau application for the SHARP program.


OSHA Cites K.E.R. Enterprises for Trenching Hazards, Proposed Penalties Total $55,000


OSHA cited K.E.R. Enterprises, Fort Meyers, Fla., following a trenching safety inspection at a Naples, Fla., work site. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $55,000 for the company, which does business as Armadillo Underground.

"Trench safety standards must be followed to protect workers from life-threatening hazards," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Trenching remains one of the most hazardous jobs in construction, and it's our goal to ensure that workers are safe."

The agency issued two willful citations to the company with proposed penalties of $55,000, alleging that employees were allowed to work in a 7-foot-deep excavation where there was evidence of a potential cave-in. The company was also charged with failure to protect workers from potential cave-ins.

OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer has shown intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

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