Nano Safety

October 25, 2005

What do paints, eyeglass coatings, metal-cutting tools, sunscreens, tennis balls, tennis racquets, stain-free clothing, dental-bonding agents, burn dressings, and Inks have in common?á Nanotechnology is already being used in these products. As a growing number of industries incorporate nanotechnology, an increasing number of workers will be exposed to nanoparticles with potential occupational hazards.
á  The panelÆs first meeting was held Sept. 29-30, in Gaithersburg, Md. Additional resources include:




Site-Specific Targeting Program Results in $130,000 in Fines for Railroad Car Manufacturer

A cross section of safety and health hazards at a Hornell, N.Y., manufacturer and refurbisher of railroad cars has resulted in $130,500 in fines from OSHA. Alstom Transportation Inc. was cited for a total of 17 alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. The citations result from an OSHA inspection begun April 18 under OSHA's site-specific targeting program which directs inspections to workplaces with illness and injury rates higher than the industry average. Two willful citations, which account for $99,000 in fines, were issued for hazards involving large overhead cranes. The first citation concerned an employee exposed to falls of up to 45 feet due to his being required to climb over a crane wheel to access the crane's cab; the second citation addressed the company's failure to correct this and other unsafe conditions, including no load rating capacity and missing runway rail sweeps, identified during safety inspections of three cranes. "Employees should not have been allowed to operate these cranes until these hazards had been fixed," said Chris R. Adams, OSHA's Syracuse area director. "Management knew these hazards existed, yet took no steps to correct them." OSHA's inspection identified other hazards in the plant, including unguarded floors and runways; unguarded machinery; improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; storage of excess amounts of flammable liquids; electrical hazards; no eyewash where employees worked with corrosive liquids; employees exposed to excess levels of cadmium; and employees exposed to being struck by a high pressure water stream operating at 38,000 psi. These resulted in the issuance of 15 serious citations and $31,500 in fines. OSHA 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. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.



$418,200 Penalty Proposed; Consistent Failure to Correct Workplace Hazards Noted

OSHA proposed $418,200 in fines for Midwest Racking Manufacturing Inc., Madison, Ill., for failing to protect workers from numerous workplace hazards identified in a recent OSHA inspection and eight previous inspections. According to OSHA, the company has consistently failed to correct grave and potentially disastrous workplace hazards, including the lack of such basic worker protections as personal protective equipment, machine guarding, fire prevention measures, safety training, fall protection, and lockout/tagout procedures which render machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair. "To ensure that injury and illness rates continue to decline, we must make sure that employers protect employees from workplace hazards," said John Newquist, OSHA's area director in Peoria/Fairview Heights. "The significant penalty of $418,200 in this case demonstrates OSHA's commitment to protecting the health and safety of America's workers." The current fine and OSHA citations follow an inspection initiated in April 2005, following receipt of a complaint. The inspection led to 33 alleged violations -- five serious, 18 willful and 10 -- ranging from electrical hazards and smoking permitted within 20 feet of a spray painting operation to a lack of eye and foot protection and improper use or lack of the use of respirators. OSHA has cited the company numerous times since 1995 and Midwest has failed to correct identified hazards in spite of offers of free assistance through OSHA's consultation services. Midwest manufactures metal storage rack systems.



Three Contractors Receive Penalties after Fatal Accident

OSHA has cited three contractors for exposing workers to safety hazards at an Ambridge, Pa., construction site. OSHA began an inspection after a worker fell through a skylight and was fatally injured. Penalties totaling $102,300 have been proposed. "Falls are a leading cause of construction worker fatalities and injuries," said Robert Szymanski, area director of the Pittsburgh OSHA office. "This fatality is a harsh warning that employers need to comply with OSHA standards to protect their workers." American Asbestos Control Company, Cranberry Township, Pa., received two willful citations with a penalty of $56,000 for failing to provide workers with fall protection and properly cover skylight openings. Eight serious violations, with a penalty of $7,200, were cited for additional violations of fall protection standards. Voegele Company Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., also received a willful citation and a $28,000 penalty for failing to protect employees working on steep roofs. Southern Erectors Contracting Corporation, Avella, Pa., was cited for five alleged serious violations and fined $11,100. All the violations related to fall protection systems and training. OSHA 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. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.




New Alliance to Promote Safer and Healthier Workplaces for Young Workers

Fostering safer and healthier workplaces for young workers is the goal of a new Alliance signed between OSHA and SkillsUSA. Through the Alliance agreement, OSHA and SkillsUSA will work together to provide career and technical educators and their students with materials, guidance, and access to training resources that will positively impact the occupational safety and health of young workers. "It is important to educate our nation's youngest workforce about safety and health hazards in the work environment," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan L. Snare. "The sooner they learn, the more aware they will be of hazards and ways to avert those hazards. A quality work experience is the result." Added SkillsUSA Executive Director Tim Lawrence: "A lifetime of career success counts on worker safety. It's essential to any job. That's why career and technical education, and SkillsUSA, stress safety and safe working practices to our students. SkillsUSA is enthusiastic about our alliance with OSHA. We look forward to helping our instructors in over 140 occupational areas reach their students with OSHA expertise." OSHA and SkillsUSA will provide expertise in developing information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards and on ways of communicating such information (e.g., print and electronic media, online forums, electronic assistance tools, and OSHA's and SkillsUSA's Web sites) to educators, employers and young workers. Alliance members will promote the national dialogue on workplace safety and health by participating in forums, roundtable discussions and stakeholder meetings on young worker safety and health issues to help forge innovative solutions to hazards in the workplace. SkillsUSA is a national organization serving more than 279,000 high school and college students and professional members enrolled in training programs in technical, skilled and service occupations.



New OSHA Alliance Focuses on Improving Safety and Health of Workers throughout Northern New England

Enhancing safe and healthful working conditions for workers throughout northern New England is the goal of a newly-signed alliance among the OSHA, the Safety and Health Council of Northern New England (SHCNNE) and the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Under the alliance, OSHA, Vermont OSHA, SHCNNE and the safety consultation offices for the three states will work together to provide northern New England employers and workers with information, guidance and access to training resources to help protect employees' safety and health. The alliance will focus on reducing and preventing exposure to construction and general industry hazards, including falls, electrical, struck-by and caught-between hazards as well as lead and silica exposures. Alliance participants will conduct outreach and training activities to improve awareness among employers and workers throughout the region of OSHA regulations and available technical and training assistance. They will also share information with safety and health professionals on best practices and the benefits of establishing a comprehensive workplace safety and health program; work jointly to encourage Safety and Health Council of Northern New England members and worksites to build relationships with OSHA and Vermont OSHA offices; and assist council members or worksites interested in recognition through OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program and Federal Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). "This alliance offers us an exciting opportunity to jointly reach out to employers, employees and worksites in all three states and provide them with knowledge and information to help them identify and prevent occupational hazards," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. The alliance was signed Sept. 28 at the Maine Safety and Health Conference in Portland. Signatories are Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director; Anthony Lemire, OSHA's Maine area director; Robert McLeod, director of the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration; Stephen Beyer, consultation project manager, N.H. Dept. of Environmental Services; David Wacker, consultation project manager, Maine Bureau of Labor Standards, Workplace Safety and Health Division; Scott Meyer, consultation project manager, State of Vermont, Dept. of Labor, Project Worksafe; and Lyman Cousins, executive director, SHCNNE.



Committee on Personal Protective Equipment Recently Established

A standing Committee on Personal Protective Equipment for Workplace Safety and Health was recently established by the National Academies through the sponsorship of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Lab (NPPTL). The COPPE and NIOSHÆs NPPTL will meet three times per year to learn about existing conditions and emerging issues related to personal protective technology, and define prospective activities (such as studies or analysis of respiratory protection, sensor systems, and other technologies and standards).
This committee will provide a forum for discussion of scientific and technical issues relevant to the development, certification, deployment, and use of personal protective equipment, standards, and related systems to ensure workplace safety and health. The committee will also provide liaison and oversight to ad hoc study committees requested by NIOSH and approved by the Institute of Medicine and the National Academies, and will coordinate with the National AcademiesÆ on-going review of NIOSH research programs. For more information contact Dr. Mary Ann DÆAlessandro, Associate Director of Science, NPPTL at 412-386-6111.



Acting Assistant Secretary Snare to Address OSHSPA