Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress has passed, and the President has signed, Public Law 115–21, a resolution of disapproval of OSHA’s final rule titled, “Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of each Recordable Injury and Illness.” OSHA published the rule, which contained various amendments to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations, on December 19, 2016. The amendments became effective on January 18, 2017. Because Public Law 115–21 invalidates the amendments to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations contained in the rule promulgated on December 19, 2016, OSHA has removed those amendments from 29 CFR.
Nanoparticles Can Travel from Lungs to Blood, Possibly Explaining Risks to Heart
Tiny particles in air pollution have been associated with cardiovascular disease, which can lead to premature death. But how particles inhaled into the lungs can affect blood vessels and the heart has remained a mystery. Now, scientists have found evidence in human and animal studies that inhaled nanoparticles can travel from the lungs into the bloodstream, potentially explaining the link between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. Their results appear in the journal ACS Nano.
The World Health Organization estimates that in 2012, about 72% of premature deaths related to outdoor air pollution were due to ischemic heart disease and strokes. Pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, and lung cancer were linked to the other 28%. Many scientists have suspected that fine particles travel from the lungs into the bloodstream, but evidence supporting this assumption in humans has been challenging to collect. So Mark Miller and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands used a selection of specialized techniques to track the fate of inhaled gold nanoparticles.
In the new study, 14 healthy volunteers, 12 surgical patients, and several mouse models inhaled gold nanoparticles, which have been safely used in medical imaging and drug delivery. Soon after exposure, the nanoparticles were detected in blood and urine. Importantly, the nanoparticles appeared to preferentially accumulate at inflamed vascular sites, including carotid plaques in patients at risk of a stroke. The findings suggest that nanoparticles can travel from the lungs into the bloodstream and reach susceptible areas of the cardiovascular system where they could possibly increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke, the researchers say.
New Web Page Highlights Healthcare Workers
A new NIOSH topic page, Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers, addresses hazardous drugs and other chemical hazards typically found in healthcare settings. NIOSH conducted the online survey to better understand the circumstances surrounding healthcare workers’ exposures, to examine adherence to safe handling guidelines and best practices, and to assess impediments to using personal protective equipment and other exposure controls. The survey targeted several classes of hazardous chemicals including antineoplastic drugs, aerosolized medications, anesthetic gases, chemical sterilants, high-level disinfectants, and surgical smoke. The topic page provides concise information on why and how the survey was done, findings and recommendations, and access to published articles and other information.
Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma
Perfume was the ninth most common exposure among all work-related asthma cases identified by The California Department of Public Health’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP). WRAPP also found that nearly a quarter of fragrance-associated cases were classified as new-onset asthma.
These findings and more were published online in the Journal of Asthma in March. While there has been reporting of sensitivity to perfume in the general population and in individual occupational case studies, this is the first time state-based surveillance data about work-related asthma (WRA) associated with fragrance exposures has been examined. California is one of five states that conducts WRA surveillance in partnership with NIOSH.
Pentabromodiphenyl Ether Mixture Listed as a Carcinogen
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intends to list pentabromodiphenyl ether mixture [DE-71 (technical grade)] as known to the state to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. This action is being proposed under the authoritative bodies listing mechanism.
Used in the past as an additive flame retardant, especially for polyester foam commonly used in furniture. US production and use of pentabromodiphenyl ether mixtures was voluntarily phased out around 2004.
Background on listing via the authoritative bodies mechanism: A chemical must be listed under the Proposition 65 regulations when two conditions are met:
- An authoritative body formally identifies the chemical as causing cancer (Section 25306(d))
- The evidence considered by the authoritative body meets the sufficiency criteria contained in the regulations (Section 25306(e))
However, the chemical is not listed if scientifically valid data that were not considered by the authoritative body clearly establish that the sufficiency of evidence criteria were not met (Section 25306(f)).
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is one of several institutions designated as authoritative for the identification of chemicals as causing cancer for purposes of Proposition 65 (Section 25306(m)). OEHHA is relying on the NTP’s discussion of data and conclusions in the report that pentabromodiphenyl ether mixture [DE-71 (technical grade)] causes cancer. The NTP (2016) states in the Conclusion section of the report’s Summary (page 6):
“We conclude that DE-71 caused liver cancers in male and female rats and mice. Occurrences of thyroid gland and pituitary gland tumors in male rats were also considered to be related to treatment. Occurrences of uterine tumors in female rats may also have been related to exposure to DE-71.”
OEHHA is requesting comments as to whether pentabromodiphenyl ether mixture [DE-71 (technical grade)] meets the criteria set forth in the Proposition 65 regulations for authoritative bodies listings. To be considered, OEHHA must receive comments by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 5, 2017. We encourage you to submit comments in electronic form, rather than in paper form. Comments may be submitted electronically through our website at https://oehha.ca.gov/comments. Comments submitted in paper form can be mailed, faxed, or delivered in person to the address below.
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
P.O. Box 4010, MS-12B
Sacramento, California 95812-4010
Fax: 916 323-2265
Street Address: 1001 I Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Comments received during the public comment period will be posted on the OEHHA website after the close of the comment period. Electronic files submitted should not have any form of encryption.
If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Ramirez at Michelle.Ramirez@oehha.ca.gov (link sends e-mail) or at 916-445-6900.
OHSN Updates System
The Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) released two new modules in March. The systems now allow healthcare facilities to track injuries and illnesses related to sharps injuries and blood and body fluid exposures, as well as traumatic injuries.
Autoneum North America Fined $569,463 Following Worker Injury
Autoneum North America, an auto insulation manufacturer in suburban Toledo faces $569,463 in proposed penalties after an OSHA investigation following a report that a machine amputated a 46-year-old worker's right hand, wrist, and part of his forearm.
Investigators found the injury occurred while the worker at Autoneum North America was guiding waste materials into a shredding machine. His arm was caught in the machine's point of operation—a circular drum that shreds the fabric fibers for reuse. OSHA found the company failed to equip the machine with adequate safety guards when the December 23, 2016, injury occurred. The agency issued three willful and two repeated violations of machine safety procedures.
"This incident illustrates why companies must evaluate machine safety procedures to ensure they are adequate and effective in protecting workers from injuries on the job," said Dorothy Dougherty, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "In addition to being the law and the right thing to do, safe workplaces are an important component in supporting and sustaining job growth in America."
OSHA cited the company for:
- Inadequate machine and point of operation guarding
- Failing to properly train workers on machine specific procedures for isolating energy sources
- No "locking out" equipment to prevent unintentional energization
- Exposing workers to struck-by hazards from machine components
In February 2016, OSHA cited the company for similar machine hazards at its Wynn Road facility in Oregon.
MIOSHA Issues Cease Operations Order Against Bay City Landscaping Company
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Shelly Edgerton directed the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) to execute a Cease Operations Order against Sunset Tree Service & Landscaping, LLC of Bay City for continuing to operate without abating hazards on the jobsite, while MIOSHA also issued 12 citations totaling $222,000 in proposed penalties.
Pursuant to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act 154 of 1974, MIOSHA ordered the company to cease operations due to unresolved safety issues, including:
- Inadequate guard/distance to feed rolls on the Bandit Chipper
- Unguarded shaft with hex flange projections on the Bandit Chipper
- Operator safety control bar tied back with rope and wire, rendering the device ineffective on the Bandit Chipper
- Traffic control devices not utilized when employees were working in and adjacent to the road
- No cover on access panel for the Bandit Chipper
- No training on tree trimming operations and safeguards
As a result of two MIOSHA inspections conducted with Sunset from January 11, 2017 to March 15, 2017, MIOSHA issued six failure-to-abate citations for the violations listed above and six willful serious citations—the most serious classification.
Sunset has an extensive history of safety violations. Between 2011 and 2016, 14 inspections were conducted at the company, resulting in 48 citations with total initial penalties of $150,000. It has also been cited nine times for failure-to-abate. MIOSHA executed a Cease Operations Order against the company in May 2016, which was later lifted after it abated the violations.
“Sunset’s gross negligence of MIOSHA regulations continues to jeopardize the safety of its most valuable asset—its employees,” said Edgerton. “While MIOSHA strives to work collaboratively with the employer community, such a pattern of non-compliance requires that we take the necessary enforcement actions.”
Sunset Tree Service & Landscaping employs six workers and is an ornamental shrub and tree service. The business requires the extensive use of personal protective equipment, hand tools, and various powered equipment used in the removal and processing of trees.
CSB Sending Denver Based Investigative Team to Examine Fatal Home Explosion Caused by Leaking Gas Well
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is sending an investigative team to examine the site of a home explosion which was caused by a nearby leaking gas well in Firestone, Colorado. The explosion led to two fatalities and one serious injury—all members of the public.
Preliminary information indicates that the well was no longer in service, but an uncapped flow line came within several feet of the home and was the likely source of the explosion. CSB investigators will be examining these circumstances.
The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical incidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, http://www.csb.gov/.
OSHA Reminds Storm Recovery Workers, Volunteers to Take Safety Precautions
As Midwest residents deal with historic flooding in southeastern Missouri, OSHA urges workers and the public at-large to be aware of the hazards they may encounter and what steps are needed to protect themselves as they begin cleanup activities.
OSHA resource officers are headed to hard-hit areas to assist local emergency responders with advice and information on important safety tips to prevent potential causes of injury and illness among those active in cleanup activities.
"Our main concern is the safety and health of workers and volunteers who may be exposed to various hazards such as electrocution, drowning, chemical exposures, struck-by, caught-in and other hazards during clean-up," said Kimberly Stille, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City. "With more rain in the forecast for the Ozarks and mid-Mississippi Valley in the week to come, residents and workers may be exposed again to flash flood hazards as rivers are already swollen."
Protective measures should involve:
- Evaluating the work area for all hazards
- Providing training for the task
- Task-specific hazard exposure monitoring
- Utilizing engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards
- Using personal protective equipment
- Assuming all power lines are live
- Following proper hygiene procedures
- Correctly using portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles, and other equipment
- Utilizing traffic work zones
- Implementing safe work procedures
Cleanup work may involve restoring electricity, communications, water and sewer services; demolition; entry into flooded areas and removal of floodwater from structures; debris removal; tree-trimming; structural repair; roadway and bridge repair; use of cranes, aerial lifts and other heavy equipment; hazardous waste operations and emergency response activities; and repair of dams and levees.
Inherent to these operations are hazards such as:
- Illness from exposure to contaminated water or food
- Risk of excessive exposure or heat stress
- Electrocution dangers related to downed electrical wires
- Carbon monoxide and electrical hazards associated with the use of portable generators
- Fall and struck-by hazards involved in tree-trimming or working at heights
- Being caught in unprotected excavations or confined spaces
- Burns, lacerations and musculoskeletal injuries
- Being struck by traffic or heavy equipment while working
- Risk of drowning in surges of moving water during cleanup
OSHA maintains a comprehensive website on keeping disaster site workers safe during clean-up and recovery operations. It contains fact sheets, concise "quick cards," frequently asked questions, safety and health guides and information, public service announcements in English and Spanish, and links to information from other sources.
OSHA, Holder Construction Group Partner for Safety
The strategic partnership between OSHA and Holder Construction Group, LLC, will protect and educate workers on construction hazards during the building of the DuPont CH3 Data Center project in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
The partnership was developed jointly by OSHA and general contractor Holder Construction Group as well as by the state's Labor Department On-site Safety and Health Consultation and several local unions. They include Plumbers Local Union 130; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134; United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners Local 839; Laborers International Union of North America Local 118; Pipefitters Local Union 597; International Association of Iron Workers Local 1; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, and International Association of Sheet Metal Workers Local 73.
The partnership will:
- Develop effective safety and health training programs and procedures
- Identify common construction hazards such as falls, electrical, struck-by, caught-in, silica, carbon monoxide, heat stress, cranes, and noise
- Encourage worker participation in employer safety and health programs
- Ensure 100% of contractors and subcontractors have site-specific written safety and health programs
- Require each employee to attend a job site safety orientation before working on the site
The DuPont CH3 project consists of a 317,000-square-foot data center. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2017. During construction, up to 30 subcontractors with 300 tradesmen may be employed on-site.
The agreement terminates on December 1, 2017, or when construction is completed, if that occurs sooner.
Through its Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA works with employers, employees, professional and trade associations, labor organizations and other interested stakeholders to establish specific goals, strategies and performance measures to improve worker safety and health.
"Our focus is to forge a working relationship that will prevent serious workplace construction hazards and establish a foundation for the development of effective safety and health program at the sites," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for the Chicago North Office in Des Plaines. "In order to support jobs and job growth in America employers must provide safe workplaces."
Indiana Furniture Facility Certified for Workplace Safety and Health Programs
Indiana Furniture of Jasper, Indiana, achieved certification in the Indiana Safety and Health Recognition Program (INSHARP).
Indiana Furniture employs 47 workers in a facility that finishes, machines, assembles, and ships office furniture case goods. Established in 1905, the small company recently celebrated its 112th year in operation. In addition to INSHARP certification, Indiana Furniture holds Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association’s level 2 certification for all case goods, tables, and seating products, which assures the facility’s processes and products are environmentally safe.
“Certification in a state-sanctioned workplace safety and health program doesn’t come easily,” said Commissioner of Labor Rick J. Ruble. “Indiana Furniture has gone above and beyond to protect its employees, and the Indiana Department of Labor is proud to recognize those efforts with INSHARP certification.”
The company’s small staff has a thorough safety and health program with a variety of preventative training and other measures in place to protect employees. With no Occupational Safety and Health-recordable injuries or illnesses in the past two years, the facility’s three-year workplace injury and illness rate was nearly 36% lower than the national industry average of 4.2.
Safety News Links
Help Fight Brain Tumors
Brain tumors are a devastating disease that inflicts nearly 700,000 Americans and millions more worldwide. About 20-40% of all other cancers develop brain metastases, and almost 80,000 Americans are diagnosed with brain cancer every year. One of those is my niece. Over 16,000 people die from brain tumors every year, and we are fighting to keep her from contributing from that statistic.
If you’ve enjoyed reading or benefited from the articles in Environmental Resource Center’s tip of the week, we’d appreciate your making a contribution to the National Brain Tumor Society through this link. She’ll know that we’re all behind her.
Thanks to everyone who contributed last week.