NIOSH Respirator Update

June 12, 2006

Between February and May, 160 applications were submitted to NIOSH for approval of new respirators or extension of approvals for currently approved respirators. 129 were approved or extended, of which 8 were devices intended for protection against chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) agents.

A new category of user notices has been added for the Department of Transportation.

As requested by our stakeholders, the Respirator Standard Test Procedures have now been posted on the NIOSH Web page. This enables manufacturers to review the test procedures that the products will undergo during testing for NIOSH certification.

Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health is Re-established

 The Committee will better enable OSHA to perform the duties imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 84 Stat. 1590, 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.) Authority to establish this Committee is found in sections 6(b) and 7(b) of the OSH Act; Section 41 of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 U.S.C. 941), and other general agency authority in Title 5 of the United States Code, and 29 CFR part 1912.

For further information contact Jim Maddux, Director, Office of Maritime within the Directorate of Standards and Guidance, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Room N-3609, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; Telephone: (202) 693-2086.

OSHA Moves to Prevent and Reduce Injuries, Illnesses and Deaths in New England's Cut Stone Products Industries

OSHA has launched a new outreach and enforcement effort aimed at preventing and reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in New England's cut stone products industries.

The new regional emphasis program will focus on workplaces that cut, shape, finish, handle or distribute granite, marble and other natural or engineered stone or stone products. The industry, primarily made up of smaller employers, has grown rapidly in the past few years, prompted by an increased demand for countertops and other stone products. At the same time, fatality and injury rates among its workers have increased. In New England, six workers in the industry have died since August 2004, five of them crushed by stone slabs.

Hazards to which industry workers can be exposed are crushing by improperly stored or handled stone slabs; silicosis and other lung diseases from exposure to airborne concentrations of silica caused by grinding and cutting; amputation hazards from unguarded machinery; musculoskeletal injuries from using pneumatic tools; and hearing loss from noise overexposures.

"The need for direct intervention is clear," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "This program seeks to persuade employers to take effective steps to address hazards before they harm workers and focus appropriate enforcement action toward those employers who do nothing."

Over the next two months, OSHA offices in Connecticut., Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island will conduct outreach activities to inform industry employers and employees of the program, promote their awareness of the hazards common to their workplaces and provide information on possible abatement methods. This will include contacting employers to encourage them to schedule a free safety and health audit by their state consultation service.

Those employers who take no action will be placed on a primary list for random, unannounced OSHA enforcement inspections. Those who use the safety consultation service and take steps to correct any hazards found will be put on a secondary inspection list. OSHA will still conduct inspections in response to complaints, referrals and accidents.

$251,250 Fine for Unprotected Trench Work

Following inspections at excavation worksites in Fremont, Ohio, OSHA has proposed $251,250 in fines against Speer Bros. Inc., Sandusky, Ohio, for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards.

OSHA opened an inspection in December 2005 following receipt of information that employees were working in unprotected trenches, some as deep as 13 feet, during construction of the City of Fremont Water Main Improvement Project.

The investigation resulted in citations for five willful violations of federal workplace safety regulations, including the failure to provide access and egress from deep trenches, failing to protect workers from cave-ins while inside those trenches, failing to protect against water accumulation inside the trenches and failing to remove employees from hazardous areas after having been advised of hazardous conditions that could result in cave-ins.

"Any one of these violations has the potential to kill the workers inside those trenches," said OSHA Area Director Jule Hovi, Toledo. "Trenching remains one of the most hazardous jobs in construction if proper safety procedures are not followed. When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace safe, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

Speer Bros. Inc. has an inspection history involving trenching violations dating back to 1992, including willful citations issued in December 2005.

OSHA to Hold Free Safety and Health Seminar for Employers in Rhode Island's Cut-Stone-Products Industry

OSHA will hold a free safety and health seminar for employers in Rhode Island's cut- stone-products industry on Wednesday, June 21, at the Warwick Public Library, Warwick, R.I.

The session is part of OSHA's outreach and enforcement program to reduce injuries, illnesses and deaths in New England businesses that cut, shape, finish, handle or distribute granite, marble and other natural or engineered stone products.

Six New England workers have died in this growing industry since 2004, including one in Rhode Island. Hazards to workers include crushing, silicosis, amputation, musculoskeletal injuries and hearing loss.

"We're reaching out to these employers to encourage them to take effective steps to eliminate these hazards before more workers are injured or killed," said Patrick J. Griffin, OSHA area director for Rhode Island.

Attendees will receive information on identifying and correcting safety and health hazards associated with cut stone work. They will also be encouraged to utilize the free safety consultation services offered to smaller businesses by the Rhode Island Department of Health's OSHA Consultation Program. To register, contact Maryann Medeiros at 401-528-4669.

OSHA Joins the University of Alabama's Safe State Consultation Program, Other Health-Care Organizations to Reduce Workplace Violence

OSHA and the University of Alabama's Safe State Consultation Program are joining forces with several health services organizations to reduce workplace violence in Alabama's health-care industry. An alliance signing ceremony will be held Friday, June 9, in Mobile, Ala. "The primary goals of this alliance are to prevent injuries to health-care workers and provide employers and employees with effective safety and health training about workplace violence," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Mobile area director. Atha added that there are an estimated 9,000 health-care workers each day who experience violence in the nation's workplaces.

OSHA has created more than 350 alliances with organizations committed to fostering safety and health in the workplace. In Alabama, the agency has offices in Mobile and Birmingham.

OSHA Fines Visant $209,500 for Unsafe Hazardous Waste Clean-Up Activities at Shuttered Battery Plant

OSHA has proposed $209,500 in fines against Viasant LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill., for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards following an investigation into possible lead exposure to workers at the site of a former battery plant in Kankakee, Ill.

OSHA opened an inspection in February 2006 following receipt of information that Viasant employees were experiencing elevated levels of lead in their blood. The inspection revealed violations of virtually every provision of OSHA's lead standard, according to OSHA Area Director Gary Anderson, Calumet City, Ill.

"Failing to comply with the lead standard not only puts workers at risk, but their families as well," said Anderson. "The health effects of overexposure to lead can be devastating. When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace clean of these dangerous substances, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

The investigation resulted in citations for seven willful and seven serious violations of federal workplace safety and health regulations, including the failure to comply with OSHA's respirator, cadmium and lead standards. OSHA is alleging that Viasant failed to provide medical protection benefits and training for workers, failed to monitor for lead and cadmium, did not provide employees with respirator fit tests, failed to provide clean changing rooms, a clean lunch room or showers for employees exposed in excess of permissible exposure limits for lead, among other violations.

Griffin Wheel Company Cited For 39 Safety and Health Violations

Griffin Wheel Company, a manufacturer of iron wheels for the railroad industry, was cited for 39 alleged safety and health violations. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $213,500.

Griffin Wheel, a subsidiary of Amstead Industries, Inc., was selected for a comprehensive joint safety and health inspection under the agency's site-specific targeting program," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City. The inspection was initiated on Dec. 6, 2005. According to Adkins, the facility has been inspected by OSHA 10 times since 1980. The most recent joint safety and health inspection was June 2004.

OSHA citations were issued for 24 serious and eight repeat alleged safety violations and seven serious alleged health violations. The serious safety citations alleged such hazards as disorderly work areas; employee use of defective portable ladders; lockout/tag out program deficiencies and unsafe use of electrical equipment. Repeat safety citations alleged such hazards as; unguarded work areas above dangerous equipment; and general machine guarding deficiencies.

The serious health citations addressed certain hazards associated with the evaluation and classification of confined spaces; implementation of procedures such as lockout/tag out for safe entry of confined spaces; lack of rescue equipment provided for confined space emergencies; and adequate development and implementation of training for confined space rescue procedures.

Serious violations are those which could result in death or serious physical harm, about which the employer knew or should have known. Repeat violations involve hazards for which the company was previously cited.

OSHA Fines Crossland Construction Co. $63,000 Following Worker Death

Crossland Construction Co. is facing penalties of $63,000 by OSHA for alleged safety violations following the death of a worker who fell from a roof in December 2005.

OSHA cited Crossland Construction Co. with four alleged serious and one repeat violation of safety standards following a comprehensive inspection prompted by the death of a worker during construction of a metal warehouse at a Rogers' construction site. Crossland is a general contractor and employs about 600 workers.

"Crossland Construction usually requires OSHA to obtain a warrant to make an inspection," said Paul Hansen, OSHA's area director in Little Rock, Ark. "The worker who died laid decking on the roof, stepped on some insulation and fell through to the concrete below. Had the company followed OSHA-controlled decking-zone standards, this tragedy could have been prevented."

The four serious citations were issued for failing to ensure that personal fall-arrest systems were used by employees working from the boom or basket of an aerial lift; failing to train employees to recognize and avoid scaffold hazards and failing to ensure that the controlled decking zone-partitioning off a safe section to work-boundaries were properly designated, marked and enforced. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

New NIOSH State-of-the-Art Mobile Medical Unit Coming to a Mine near You

 This new NIOSH resource will assist researchers, medical professionals, and others in identifying the distribution and prevalence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) or black lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in U.S. coal miners. The self-contained unit provides individual privacy and state-of-the-art equipment for education, interviewing, x-ray screening, and lung function testing. The Mine Safety and Health Administration provided initial funding for the unit.

To date, 581 miners have been screened in initial uses of the new unit, and further screening visits are planned for the near future in Virginia and Kentucky. Information obtained from the mobile screening activities will help identify conditions and locations where current occupational exposures may pose a risk for CWP, and where interventions may be needed to reduce exposures, prevent the onset of CWP, or identify cases of illnesses for appropriate treatment.