NIOSH Revokes Approval for Certain Respirators

December 01, 2008

 Global Secure Safety Products, Inc., stopped production of respirators in April 2008 and has ceased doing business.

Global Secure Safety Products, Inc. (formerly CairnsAir Inc. or Neoterik) respirators will be listed on NIOSH’s Certified Equipment List (CEL) as obsolete and certificates of approval will be revoked.

NIOSH will revoke the approvals of these respirators on Dec. 31, 2009. Revoked status means that the respirators in question will no longer be listed as NIOSH-approved respirators. Once revoked, respirators bearing these approval numbers may no longer be manufactured, assembled, sold, or distributed as NIOSH-approved respirators. Furthermore, they may not be used where NIOSH-approved respirators are required regardless of the current state of maintenance.

Prepare Now for Winter Driving

Minnesota OSHA cautions that with the first snowstorm each year, the local radio and TV reporters echo the well-known refrain, “People seem to have forgotten how to drive in winter conditions.” This takes on additional meaning for employers, because the number one cause of worker fatalities in Minnesota and the rest of the country continues to be traffic accidents.

Federal OSHA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration list three “Ps” of safe winter driving: prepare for the trip, protect yourself, and prevent crashes on the road.

Follow these tips to help prepare for winter driving:

  • Maintain your car: Check the battery, tire tread, antifreeze and windshield wipers; keep your windows clear; and put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir.
  • Pack your supplies: A flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (such as sand, kitty litter, or even spare floor mats), a shovel, a snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (such as flares), and blankets. For long trips, add food, water, medication, and a fully charged cell phone to your list.
  • If you’re stopped, stuck, or stalled: Stay with your car; don’t overexert yourself; put bright markers on the antenna or windows; shine the dome light; and, if you run your car, clear the exhaust pipe and run your car just enough to stay warm.
  • Plan your route: Allow plenty of time (check the weather and leave early if necessary); be familiar with the maps and directions; and let others know your route and arrival time.
  • Practice and review cold weather driving skills: During daylight, maneuver slowly on ice or snow in an empty lot; steer into a skid; know what your brakes will do—stomp and hold down antilock brakes and pump non-antilock brakes; remember stopping distances are longer on water or ice; and remember not to idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.


According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s “Minnesota Driver’s Manual,” of all the safety equipment in your vehicle, the seat belt is most likely to protect you and save your life. If you are not wearing a seat belt, your chances of being killed or injured in a crash are four times greater. It is possible to be killed in a crash when traveling at speeds as low as 12 m.p.h.

OSHA offers the following recommendations to prevent crashes:

  • Monitor yourself: Slow down and increase your following distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Expect the unexpected: Keep your eyes open for pedestrians walking in the road.
  • Avoid fatigue: Get plenty of rest before long trips; stop at least every three hours; and rotate drivers if possible.

Other winter-related safety information from federal OSHA includes:



Drivers Discouraged From Text Messaging While Behind the Wheel

Vermont’s Department of Labor (DOL) has published information to discourage the practice of text messaging while behind the wheel. Vermont’s DOL has stated that not since the introduction and use of the cell phone while driving has another electronic device caused such a stir among safety officials and motorists. The issue is text messaging—the use of a cell phone to type and send “shorthand” messages—while driving a motor vehicle. It is obvious this practice takes the driver’s eyes off the road and thoughts away from the task at hand, which is operating a vehicle safely.

Many states and cities are reacting to the problem with prohibitions against texting while driving. These states include California, where the Los Angeles Times reports that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has banned drivers from reading, writing, or sending electronic messages while driving, beginning on January 1.

“Banning electronic messaging while driving will keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians,” Schwarzenegger said. “Since California banned the use of handheld cell phones for drivers last July 1, officers have issued nearly 20,000 citations.”

At the same time, Nationwide Insurance has found that one in five drivers admit to texting behind the wheel. But officials say it is hard to tell how many crashes are caused by texting because drivers rarely offer that information after the fact. The risk of crashing while texting is similar to the crash risk after a driver has had three to four drinks, according to a University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor who used a simulator to study multi-tasking drivers. After a Metrolink passenger train and freight train collided in September, the California Public Utilities Commission recently banned railroad workers from text messaging or using cell phones on moving trains.

In addition, a recent survey found that almost half of drivers ages 18 to 24 and more than a quarter of drivers from ages 25 to 34 say they text behind the wheel. Four states—Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington—recently banned texting while driving. Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety conducted an informal survey of about 400 teenagers earlier this year. The teens said texting was their biggest distraction when behind the wheel and said it was the “most unsafe” behavior their friends engaged in while driving. In Alaska, motorists are allowed to read messages on their phones and BlackBerries, but it is a crime for them to write messages or watch videos behind the wheel. The Alaska law is a primary offense that could land a driver in jail. Texting while driving is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail—the same punishment as a first offense for driving under the influence. If a texting driver causes a crash that kills someone, the offense becomes a felony. In the City of Baltimore, Md., city workers, except for emergency crews, are forbidden to use cell phones for voice or texting.

According to research, writing and reading text messages impairs driving skills more than being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The reaction times of texting drivers deteriorated by 35%. Drivers drifted out of their lanes more often and weren’t as able to maintain a safe following distance.

While a handful of other states ban both texting and using a handheld cell phone while driving, no state bans cell phone use outright. Drivers 16 to 24 years old are the most likely to use electronic devices behind the wheel, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.

Vermont has no law relating to texting, but the Core Group of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan has plans to make such a recommendation to the Douglas Administration as part of a package of traffic safety legislation for the 2009 Legislative session.

Minnesota OSHA Issues Hazard Alert on Mobile Shelving Systems

In 2007, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Division (MNOSHA) investigated a fatal accident due to the improper use of a mobile shelving system. In response to that investigation, MNOSHA issued a hazard alert regarding the use of this equipment in order to heighten public awareness of the equipment’s proper use and the safety devices used to prevent the units from closing unintentionally.

Mobile shelving systems are often found where there is a need for a large amount of file storage, e.g., hospitals, libraries, schools, etc. The systems often consist of several large shelves that can expand and collapse to allow a larger amount of storage in a smaller space than conventional storage provides.

In describing the potential hazards of these shelving systems, employers and employees must understand the factors that can lead to failure of the shelving systems:

  • Overriding safety systems through the use of the battery pack
  • Resetting the mobile unit while an aisle is in use
  • Limited safety devices that will still allow the carriages to move even though a person is in the aisle
  • Use of the equipment by someone other than a trained/competent person


One key method to preventing mobile shelving system accidents is to have the proper safety devices installed when the system is first put in. A photoelectric eye that runs the length of the aisle and will stop the equipment when interrupted is not sufficient to protect people and objects, because it may still allow the carriage to move while the aisle is occupied. The aisle needs to be protected to the point that the equipment will not operate while an obstruction is in the aisle. This can be done using a photoelectric eye that detects when a person or object is present in an open aisle and automatically locks out carriage movement. If the aisle is accessed while the carriage is closing, a photoelectric beam must also be able to detect entry and reverse movement.

A battery pack that accompanies the equipment is only to be used in cases where the power has gone out and files still need to be accessed. Proper employee training regarding the limitations of the battery pack must be instituted. Safety devices may be deactivated while the battery pack is in use; thus, special training must take place to ensure employees are familiar with its use and limitations.

Employees may not enter into an aisle while the pack is being used. Also, the battery pack switch must be guarded against unintended activation.

Training regarding general use of the equipment is also necessary, including procedures for when an aisle is already in use. Be sure to consult the operator’s manual before equipment use and for additional guidance.

CALOSHA Issues Silica Hazard Alert

Exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust during construction activities can cause serious respiratory disease. It is frequently misdiagnosed, so actual numbers may be higher.

Silica is a natural mineral that comes in several forms, some more hazardous than others. Typically, it’s the crystalline forms that are of greatest concern.

Silica can be present in large quantities in certain types of rocks and sand. Construction materials made from these natural ingredients then become the source of exposure associated with several of the construction trades, such as tile roofs, masonry, and concrete finishing or re-finishing.

Breathing too much dust containing the crystalline forms of silica particles small enough to enter the deep parts of the lung can cause “silicosis”—which is a scarring of the lung tissues—cancer, and other forms of lung disease, including an increased risk of getting tuberculosis. It usually takes several years before you know that you have a problem. Higher exposures can produce health problems much sooner. At first, there may be no symptoms of disease, and then shortness of breath, fatigue, severe cough, and chest pain can develop later. Silicosis cannot be reversed, so it is best to minimize exposure now to prevent disability later in life.

The following are some examples of work operations where the CALOSHA 8-hour average PEL of 0.1 mg/m3 for crystalline silica can be exceeded. There may be other operations not listed here that can also produce excessive exposure levels, such as dry grinding on granite counter tops:

  • Tuck point grinding
  • Surface grinder
  • Rock drill
  • Broom or shovel
  • Jackhammer/chipping gun
  • Hand-held masonry saw
  • Road mill
  • Backhoe, excavator, bulldozer
  • Walk-behind concrete saw
  • Mixing concrete, grout, etc.
  • Bobcat


CALOSHA recommends the following as some of the best ways for employees to protect themselves from silica hazards:

  • Ask your employer if your work can produce excessive silica dust exposure and what control measures are to be used.
  • Where possible, work with products that don’t contain silica.
    • For example, there are a variety of materials such as glass beads, pumice, sawdust, steel grit, shot, and walnut shells that are available as substitutes for sandblasting operations.
  • Understand the hazards and take the appropriate preventative measures.
  • Minimize dust getting into the air you breathe.
    • Use equipment designed to cut, saw, and grind under wet conditions or use ventilation that captures the dust as it is created.
    • Proper use and preventive maintenance is critical.
    • Don’t smoke tobacco products.
    • Never use compressed air to clean dust off equipment, surfaces, or your clothes. Where safely feasible, use water or a HEPA vacuum. Consider using disposable or reusable clothing that stays at the work site.
  • Minimize dust generation when working with or around silica-containing materials.
  • Handle and dispose of waste materials without generating airborne dust.
    • Use a HEPA vacuum, squeegee instead of broom, or sweeping compound, in that order.

You may still have excessive exposure despite using controls, which means you may still need to use an appropriate respirator, along with a good respiratory protection program. Establish defined areas beyond the required respiratory protection.

FDA Addresses Melamine Contamination in Milk and Milk-Derived Products from China

On Sept. 12, 2008, in light of reports from China of infant formula contaminated with melamine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Health Information Advisory to proactively reassure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell these products in the United States. That advisory also warned members of Asian communities in the United States that infant formula manufactured in China, possibly available for purchase at Asian markets, could pose a risk to infants. No Chinese manufacturers of infant formula have fulfilled the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States.

The FDA contacted manufacturers of infant formula for distribution in the United States and received information from the companies that they are not importing formula and do not source milk-based ingredients from China.

The FDA has broadened its domestic and import sampling and testing of milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk or milk-derived ingredients from Chinese sources. The FDA has recommended that consumers not consume certain products because of possible contamination with melamine. In addition, the FDA—in conjunction with state and local officials—continues to check Asian markets for food items that are imported from China and that could contain a significant amount of milk or milk proteins. 

As part of ongoing activities, the FDA will examine a range of protein-containing products beyond dairy and dairy-containing products for contamination with melamine and melamine-related compounds. FDA will continue to take appropriate regulatory action if these efforts uncover additional contamination.

OSHA Cites Connecticut Contractor Nearly $145,000 for Excavation Hazards

U.S. OSHA has cited Sand Cut Properties LLC of Danbury, Conn., for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards after an employee was directed to work in a collapsing excavation at a Brookfield, Conn., worksite. The company, which is developing and constructing industrial buildings, faces a total of $144,800 in proposed fines.

On May 28, a Sand Cut Properties employee was directed to enter a 6-to 9-foot-deep excavation to retrieve a piece of equipment. The collapsing excavation was weakened by a 15-foot tall pile of excavated materials placed at its edge and filling with water. The excavation did not have required cave-in protection.

“There was no excuse for sending this employee to work inside an unprotected, unstable, and collapsing excavation,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “This instruction ignores basic safety requirements and common sense. This was an imminent danger situation, and the employee was fortunate not to be crushed or buried alive.”

As a result, OSHA has issued Sand Cut Properties two willful citations, with $140,000 in proposed fines, for the lack of cave-in protection and for placing the 15-foot pile of excavated material next to the excavation’s edge. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The company also has been issued two serious citations, with $4,800 in fines, for the accumulating water in the excavation and for having the employee ride in the bucket of an excavator, a situation which exposed him to fall and crushing hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse and that other required safeguards be utilized to prevent excavation hazards. 

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to meet with OSHA or to contest citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Bridgeport Area Office.

OSHA Fines Florida Transportation Services $88,200 Following the Death of Three Employees

U.S. OSHA has cited Florida Transportation Services for one willful and four serious safety violations. In May, three employees died after entering a cargo hold filled with argon gas. The citations include a total of $88,200 in proposed penalties.

“The unfortunate and needless loss of three lives resulted from the company’s failure to provide its employees with sufficient training and knowledge of hazardous chemicals,” said Darlene Fossum, OSHA’s area director in Fort Lauderdale.

OSHA is citing the company with one willful violation carrying a $63,000 fine for not training employees on the proper methods and observations used to detect the presence or release of a gas, such as argon. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The serious violations, each of which carries a $6,300 fine, address the company’s failure to establish an alarm system to warn employees of an emergency after a chemical release has occurred and to develop adequate evacuation procedures. In addition, the company allowed employees to enter a hazardous atmosphere and allowed the loading of a portable tank of argon that had a damaged identification number and a faded shipping name.

Florida Transportation Services has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale Area Office.

$75,000 in OSHA Penalties for Lockout/Tagout Violations

A Buffalo, N.Y., metal fabrication shop faces an additional $75,000 in penalties from OSHA for failing to fully correct hazards cited during a prior OSHA inspection.

In May, OSHA cited ATECH-S.E.H. Metal Fabricators Inc. for serious violations of safety standards after two employees at the company’s plant lost parts of their fingers when a mechanical power press they were setting up for operation unexpectedly activated.

OSHA found that the power press had not been de-energized and physically locked out as required under OSHA’s hazardous energy control, or lockout/tagout, standard and that the employees had not been adequately trained in lockout/tagout procedures. ATECH-S.E.H. subsequently paid $6,000 in penalties and agreed to correct all cited hazards.

However, a follow-up inspection by OSHA to verify compliance determined that unsatisfactory corrective action had been taken. OSHA found that the lockout/tagout training was incomplete and lockout/tagout procedures were not followed, including one instance in which another employee was injured by the unexpected startup of a power press. As a result, OSHA issued the company two failure to abate notices, which carry $75,000 in new penalties.

“The sizable penalty proposed in this case reflects both the severity and recurrence of these hazards, and the employer’s failure to properly correct them,” said Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo. “Partial measures don’t get the job done. Proper lockout/tagout training and procedures must be implemented and maintained completely, effectively, and continuously to safeguard employees against possible injuries.”

“In addition, one means of maintaining a safe workplace is to establish a safety and health management system through which employers and employees work together in a systematic and effective manner to evaluate, identify, and eliminate hazardous conditions before they cause injury or illness,” Dube said.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its failure to abate notices to meet with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspections were conducted by OSHA’s Buffalo Area Office.

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