July 26, 2002

OSHA recently issued a new information sheet that highlights the many programs that make up the agency's outreach programs. The OSHA Compliance Assistance fact sheet provides a brief reference to the variety of compliance assistance and outreach tools available, focusing on Consultation Programs, Voluntary Protection Programs, Strategic Partnerships and Alliances, and Compliance Assistance Specialists located in each OSHA Area Office.


The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a formal request for public comment on its plan for vehicle safety rulemaking priorities, "NHTSA Vehicle Safety Rulemaking Priorities: 2002-2005." The plan includes the agency's highest priority rulemaking actions that fall within the immediate four-year time frame.

For the near term (2002-2003), NHTSA's regulatory priorities will be the Transportation, Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation Act (TREAD) requirements, including tires, rollover prevention and child safety. Other important safety concerns will include improved head restraints and fuel system integrity, advanced air bags and dummies, upgraded roof crush resistance, occupant ejection prevention in rollover crashes, offset frontal and enhanced side crash protection, and reduced glare from headlamps.

Longer term (2004-2005) testing, analysis, and potential rulemaking actions will address incompatibility in crashes between passenger cars and light trucks, dynamic stability control, roadway departure collision avoidance systems, and the reduction of driver distractions.

Motor vehicle crashes killed 41,821 individuals and injured 3,189,000 others in 6.4 million crashes in 2000. Preliminary data from 2001 indicates that the number of fatalities remains at over 41,000.

"In addition to the terrible personal toll, these crashes result in a huge economic cost to society with an estimated annual cost of $230.6 billion, or an average of $820 for every person living in the United States," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D. "One of the most important ways in which NHTSA carries out its safety mandate is to issue and enforce Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Through these rules, NHTSA strives to reduce the number of crashes and to minimize the consequences of the crashes that do occur."

In the first years of the new century, NHTSA will strive to influence the automotive industry to incorporate advances in vehicle and safety technology in new vehicles while ensuring that the use of the new technologies enhances vehicle safety. Agency safety standard priorities come from many sources, including: the size of the safety problem and likelihood of solutions, Executive priorities, Congressional interest and mandates, petitions to the agency for rulemaking and other expressions of public interest, interest in harmonizing safety standards with those of other nations, and changes needed as a result of new vehicle technologies. The starting point for rulemaking priorities is the quest for the greatest potential protection of lives and prevention of injury.

The plan is organized along several broad categories: light vehicle crash prevention and occupant protection, incompatibility between passenger cars and light trucks, heavy truck safety, and special populations protection, which includes safety for children, people with disabilities, and older people. The plan also includes other active rulemaking areas, in addition to the top priorities.

"This plan provides a valuable management and communication tool for vehicle rulemaking actions that will make the greatest reductions in our most serious vehicle safety problems," said Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, the NHTSA Administrator.

Those wishing to have their comments considered must provide them to NHTSA by Sept. 23, 2002 when the docket, NHTSA-2002-12391, will close. After that, the agency will review the comments to determine what further actions should be taken.

Comments may be submitted in writing to the Department of Transportation's Docket Management Section, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street S.W., Washington, DC 20590. It is requested, though not required, that two copies of the comments be provided. The docket section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members of the public who are providing comments should cite the docket number: NHTSA-2002-12391

 Click on "Help" or "Electronic Submission" to obtain instructions for filing the document electronically. In every case, the comment should refer to the docket number, NHTSA-2002-12391.


Register today for MCIC's 2002 North Carolina Environmental, Health and Safety School to be held on August 19-20, 2002, in Research Triangle Park. 

The 2002 School provides an ideal opportunity for environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals to keep current on the latest issues affecting their businesses in North Carolina.

The School offers four concurrent tracks addressing current issues in Air Quality, Water Quality, Solid and Hazardous Waste, and Occupational Health and Safety. Within each track there are five separate classroom courses ranging from very basic topics for those just starting out to more advanced topics for the more experienced practitioner.

Attendees may choose any combination of five classroom courses to attend. This unique format allows each attendee to select a personalized schedule from a menu of twenty informative classroom courses.

In addition to the twenty concurrent classroom sessions, the School begins with a general session on Monday, August 19, 2002. This session will feature presentations by The Honorable Cherie Berry, NC Commissioner of Labor, and Bill Ross, Secretary of NC DENR. The School closes on Tuesday, August 20 with a luncheon featuring a keynote speaker.


OSHA cited Eastern Bridge, LLC, for alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and proposed a total of $350,000 in penalties following a comprehensive six-month inspection of its Claremont, NH plant. The citations address hazardous conditions involving cranes, use of hard hats, construction of fuel gas storage rooms, paint spray areas and flammable storage rooms, storage of oxygen cylinders, personal protective equipment, fall protection, forklifts, energy control, respirators, emergency response, machine guarding, noise monitoring, eyewashes, stairs and electrical equipment and wiring.

"This case highlights the need for employers to focus on identification and prompt correction of hazards," said John Henshaw, the assistant labor secretary who heads OSHA. "Eastern Bridge has indicated a willingness to work toward the common goal of a safer, healthier workplace, and can best accomplish that through a combination of correcting hazards and improving its safety and health program. We will work with them to help them accomplish that."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, 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.


A Baton Rouge company's alleged failure to protect employees from trench cave-ins has resulted in the death of one employee and proposed penalties of $64,050 from OSHA.

General Engineering & Environmental Companies Inc., headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., was cited with four alleged safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began Feb. 23. The inspection was made following notification of a trench collapse at the company's worksite in Franklinton, La., resulting in a fatality. The company provides trenching, surveying and engineering services.

Three alleged willful violations were cited for failing to protect employees working inside trenches from cave-ins, failing to properly slope and/or shore trenches and failing to take appropriate measure when a cave-in hazard is recognized. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA Act and regulations.

The one alleged serious violation was issued for failing to provide employees with head protection while exposed to falling soil deposits. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's toll-free hotline number at 1-800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

General Engineering & Environmental Companies has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area office, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


An Anthony, Texas, company's alleged failure to protect employees from falls and other hazards has resulted in citations and proposed penalties of $39,000 from OSHA following a February incident in which an employee fell some 30 feet at a construction site where he was installing steel roof decking.

Blackwater Steel Erectors, metal decking floor installers and steel structure erectors, employs about 15 workers. The company was cited with 17 alleged serious violations following an inspection begun Feb. 12, in response to the accident. The employee, one of eight workers at the site, sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized.

Among the alleged serious violations were failure to properly maintain and inspect the crane for deficiencies; failure to provide proper training for employees to operate various equipment; failure to train employees on how to recognize hazardous fall conditions; and failure to provide fall protection equipment.

Blackwater Steel Erectors has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's El Paso office, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


OSHA recently developed a new electronic tool (eTool) on the proper use and selection of eye and face protection. The training module includes information on selecting personal protective equipment, discusses OSHA requirements in providing eye and face protection, and also includes a list of frequently asked questions on the topic.

OSHA's eTools are stand-alone, interactive, Web-based training tools on various occupational safety and health topics.