Notebook Computers Recalled Due to Burn Hazard

September 08, 2008

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Sony Electronics, Inc., announced a voluntary recall of 73,000 VAIO TZ-series Notebook Computers. If you have one of the recalled computers, you should stop using it immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Irregularly positioned wires near the computer’s hinge and/or a dislodged screw inside the hinge can cause a short circuit and overheating. This poses a burn hazard to consumers. Sony has received 15 reports of overheating, including one consumer who suffered a minor burn.

The recalled notebook computer models are the VAIO VGN-TZ100 series, VGN-TZ200 series, VGN-TZ300 series, and VGN-TZ2000 series. The computers’ screen size is about 11.1” measured diagonally. Not all units are affected; consumers should contact Sony to determine if their unit is included in the recall.

The computers, which were manufactured in the United States and Japan were sold in SonyStyle stores and website, authorized electronics retailers, and authorized business-to-business dealers nationwide from July 2007 through August 2008 for between $1,700 and $4,000.

According to the recall, you should stop using the recalled notebook computers immediately and contact Sony to determine if your notebook is affected. The firm will arrange for an inspection and repair, if needed.

CSB Deploys to Fatal Accident at Bayer CropScience in West Virginia

A five-member investigation team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of a fatal explosion and fire at the Bayer CropScience plant located in Kanawha County, W.V.

According to media reports, one person was killed and another was injured in the blast, which could be felt several miles away.

The investigative team will be accompanied by CSB Chairman and CEO John
Bresland, who will serve as the principal spokesperson. The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. 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.

New Safety Video "Blast Wave in Danvers" Illustrates Lack of Safety Systems at Destroyed Ink Plant

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released a comprehensive safety video on the massive explosion that shook Danvers, Mass., a suburb of Boston, on Nov. 22, 2006.

The video features a computer-generated 3-D animation that graphically depicts the sequence of events leading to the explosion and the subsequent blast wave that rolled over the Danversport residential area, destroying dozens of homes and businesses and causing extensive damage to many more. The animation shows how the blast blew entire window frames into the bedrooms of sleeping residents, who comment on the experience in the video. Remarkably, only a handful of residents were injured, none seriously.

"The safety video clearly illustrates how the lack of checklists, automatic shutoff systems, process controls, and hazard analyses can lead to a catastrophic chemical accident," CSB Chairman John Bresland said. "Together with the Massachusetts state and local officials and residents who appeared in the video, we share the hope that this accident and the resulting investigations will pave the way for improved public safety in the future."

The CSB found, and the video shows, how a critical steam valve used to control the temperature of a 2,000-gallon batch of flammable solvents inside an ink-making process vessel was likely left open inadvertently by a CAI production supervisor. The solvents boiled and flammable vapor escaped from the unsealed process vessel into the facility, which was not ventilated at night when the building was unoccupied. During the overnight hours, hundreds of pounds of flammable vapor were released into the building, eventually reaching an ignition source at 2:46 a.m. on the morning of November 22.

"We hope this video will encourage other communities, officials, and local emergency planning committees to improve awareness of industrial hazards, review the effectiveness of codes and inspections, and minimize the potential for future disasters involving flammable materials close to residential neighborhoods," Chairman Bresland said.

The 20-minute video expands on a previous version that was shown at a CSB public meeting on May 13, 2008, in Danvers. The new video includes interviews and commentary from James Tutko, Danvers Fire Chief; Wayne Marquis, Danvers Town Manager; Stephen Coan, the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal; State Representative Theodore Speliotis; Michael Powers, member of the Danvers Board of Selectmen; Kenneth Willette, Concord Fire Chief and former president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts; and numerous Danvers residents including Susan Tropeano, a current member of the Danvers Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), whose house was damaged in the blast.

The video also includes commentary by CSB Board Member William E. Wright and CSB investigators who conducted the 18-month probe, discussing the CSB's findings and recommendations. 

New European Certification Standard

IOSH, Europe's leading body for health and safety professionals, has warmly welcomed the new European Certification Standard being introduced on September 16 by ENSHPO (the European Network of Safety and Health Professional Organisations).

EurOSHM (European Occupational Safety and Health Manager) is a voluntary European certification standard for occupational safety and health. It will help to verify the competence of OSH professionals and is particularly relevant for people with professional remits across several European countries.

IOSH, a founding member of ENSHPO and its secretariat, has been active in developing the standard. Hazel Harvey, IOSH director of professional affairs, sat on the ENSHPO Certification Committee from the inception of the scheme.

“We’re pleased with IOSH’s strong support of this initiative, which is a significant step forward for European health and safety professionals,” Certification Committee Chairman Professor Andrew Hale said. “It’s intended that this will eventually help achieve a common standard of health and safety practice throughout Europe and lead to easier recognition of equivalent qualifications across member states.”

The Certification Committee was set up in 2007 to oversee the scheme, working closely with Swiss-based IFE Institut f?r Ergonomie GmbH who administer the standard and the registration process.

In addition to the scheme for this pan-European certification standard, ENSHPO is already working on producing a technician-level European standard in the very near future. A considerable amount of interest has already been expressed from practitioners across Europe.

Chartered Members and Fellows of IOSH are eligible to apply for the EurOSHM. 

OSHA Proposes $63,000 in Penalties Against Pike Electric for Safety Violations

OSHA is proposing $63,000 in penalties against Pike Electric Inc. for violations found at a site the company was excavating in Mobile, Ala.

An employee working in a trench suffered severe injuries when the near-vertical walls of the excavation collapsed on him, partially engulfing him in dirt.

"Pike Electric has lots of experience in trenching, but the company's management still failed to take basic preventative measures that could have saved this employee from harm," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's interim area director in Mobile.

OSHA is proposing a $56,000 penalty against the company for willfully failing to protect employees from cave-ins by an adequate protective system. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

One serious safety violation with a $7,000 penalty is being issued to the company for failing to protect employees from materials falling or rolling into the excavation.

OSHA Issues $50,400 Penalty for Combustible Dust, Electrical, and Machine Hazards at Pet Food Plant

OSHA is proposing $50,400 in penalties for 26 alleged safety and health violations found at the Hi-Tek Rations pet food manufacturing facility in Dublin, Ga.

An OSHA inspection revealed a significant accumulation of dust from the dog food processing area as well as hazardous working conditions. Employees were exposed to fall, electrical, and fire hazards. Machine guards were missing and employees worked without proper eye, face, and hand protection. In all, OSHA detected 25 serious violations resulting in $49,600 in proposed penalties.

OSHA also cited the plant for one other-than-serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $800, for not maintaining a proper record of injuries and illnesses occurring in 2007.

"Employers are responsible for the maintenance and housekeeping of their facilities, and when they fail in their responsibilities, they put the safety and health of their employees at risk," said John Deifer, OSHA's area director in Savannah.

OSHA Cites Benton, Ill., Excavator Following Investigation into Deaths of Two Employees

OSHA has cited Midwest Petroleum and Excavating Inc. in Benton for alleged willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.

In March, OSHA opened an inspection at an excavation jobsite in Millstadt, Ill., following notification of the deaths of two employees when a trench in which they were working caved in on them. OSHA issued one willful citation to the company for failing to provide a protective system in the open trench to protect employees from cave-in hazards.

OSHA also issued the company two serious citations for failing to instruct and train its employees in the safety regulations and requirements involving excavations and for failing to ensure that the trench was inspected daily by a competent person.

"It has long been known that cave-in fatalities are entirely preventable," said Nick Walters, area director of OSHA's district office in Fairview Heights, Ill. "Any employer who is involved in trenching and excavation can avoid such terrible tragedies by following OSHA's clear regulations."

The citations carry a proposed $11,200 in fines. 

OSHA Proposes $94,500 in Penalties for Safety Violations Against Dongwon Autopart TechnologyTier 1 Supplier to Hyundai

OSHA is proposing $94,500 in penalties against Dongwon Autopart Technology Alabama for 11 safety violations found at its Luverne, Ala., manufacturing facility, which supplies parts to Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala.

In March, an employee suffered partial amputation of two fingers when a machine malfunctioned. OSHA found that management was aware of the machine's problems but had not made effective repairs. OSHA cited the company for one willful violation with a $55,000 proposed penalty for its failure to have authorized employees correctly affix lockout or tagout devices to machinery to prevent accidental start-ups. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Dongwon Autopart Technology Alabama was cited for an additional 10 serious safety violations with $39,500 in proposed penalties for failing to provide machine guards, not correctly using lockout/tagout devices, and not protecting mechanisms from accidental activation. Employees were exposed to electrical hazards with panels that were incorrectly marked and with breaker panels that lacked safety devices.

"As demonstrated in this instance, the unexpected start-up of machines or equipment can result in serious injuries or death," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's acting area director in Mobile. "The OSHA standard is clear as to what the employer must do and this employer knew the requirements."

Fall Hazards at SUNY Geneseo Lead to $70,000 in OSHA Fines

A Rochester, N.Y., roofing contractor faces $70,000 in fines from OSHA for fall hazards of 38 to 44 feet at a worksite on the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo campus in Geneseo, N.Y.

A.M. Stern Inc. was cited for five alleged repeat violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection on June 24 when an inspector observed employees working without fall protection while performing roofing work atop Ontario Hall.

"These employees were exposed to falls of up to four stories," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "One slip, one misstep, one instance of losing balance could have ended their lives. What's more disturbing—and the reason we're proposing these substantial fines—is that this employer previously had been cited for fall hazards at other jobsites."

Four of the citations address fall hazards found at the Ontario Hall worksite: employees working without fall protection; employees not trained in fall protection methods and in how to recognize fall hazards; a safety monitor not competent to identify fall hazards; and a safety monitor not positioned to be able to communicate visually or orally with employees about fall hazards. The fifth citation concerned an employee working without head protection.

OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer previously has been cited for similar hazards and those citations have become final. In this case, OSHA had cited A.M. Stern in June and September 2006 for similar fall hazards at worksites in West Henrietta and Rochester, N.Y., respectively, and in April 2007 for lack of head protection at an Avon, N.Y., worksite.

"I want to put employers on notice that if our inspectors pass by a jobsite and observe fall hazards, they will stop and open an inspection on the spot, as happened here," Dube said. "Fall protection can never be left to chance. Proper and effective safeguards must be in place and in use every single day on every single job."

OSHA Appoints New Head of Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. has appointed Thomas M. Galassi as the new director of the newly named Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management (TSEM), formerly the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Galassi most recently served nine years as deputy director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

He began his career with OSHA in 1986 as a compliance officer in the Milwaukee, Wis., Area Office. He is a certified industrial hygienist and holds a master's degree in public health in environmental/occupational health from the University of Illinois. Galassi received a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology from Illinois State University.

"Tom has been an invaluable member of the OSHA team for the past 22 years," Foulke said. "I congratulate him on his new position, and I am confident that we will continue to benefit from his vast experience as we move forward to accomplish the agency's mission and ensure that OSHA is effective for years to come."

Foulke said the importance of emergency preparedness became clear after the attack on the World Trade Center and anthrax exposures in 2001. In the aftermath of these attacks, OSHA undertook an unprecedented effort to collaborate with federal, state, and local governments, as well as private-sector employers, to provide employee safety and health technical support and services.

"I am confident that the creation of the Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, and the support of the talented OSHA team we already have, will further enhance the agency's leadership in protecting the working men and women of this country, whether they are engaged in their normal work or involved in the challenging tasks of response and recovery," Foulke said.

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