OSHA Alert: Keep Stockroom and Loading Dock Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic

June 08, 2020
OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to protect stockroom and loading dock workers in the retail industry from exposure to the coronavirus.
Safety measures employers can implement include:
  • Stock displays (e.g., shelves and freezers) during slow periods or shifts during which stores are closed to minimize contact with the public;
  • If stocking occurs while stores are open, use barriers or markers to physically separate shelf stockers from customers;
  • Maintain at least 6 feet between co-workers and customers, where possible;
  • Limit customer capacity in stores;
  • Coordinate with vendors and delivery companies to minimize the need for stockroom and loading dock worker contact with delivery drivers;
  • Allow workers to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent spread of the virus; and
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.
The new alert is available for download in English and Spanish. See OSHA’s Publications webpage for other useful workplace safety information.
The alert is the latest effort by OSHA to educate and protect America’s workers and employers during the coronavirus pandemic. OSHA has also published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, a document aimed at helping workers and employers learn about ways to protect themselves and their workplaces during the ongoing pandemic.
See OSHA’s coronavirus webpage  for updates, and for further information about coronavirus, see the CDC’s Coronavirus website.
Environmental Resource Center Update
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have combined our Safety and Environmental Tips of the week. This issue includes some of the latest recommendations for you to keep safe at work and at home in this evolving event.
The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and our communities is what matters most to all of us. To continue to serve you, our seminars have been converted to live online webcasts. You can find a list of upcoming live webcasts at this link.
If you have enrolled in a seminar in June, in many cases the seminar will be held on approximately the same dates and at the same times via online webcast. We will contact you by phone or email regarding the details on how to attend the class. On-site training and consulting services are proceeding as usual. If you wish to convert these to remote services, please call your Environmental Resource Center representative or customer service at 800-537-2372.
Because many of our live and on-site training sessions have been postponed or canceled, we have staff available to assist you in coping with COVID-19 as well as your routine EHS requirements. If you have EHS staff that have been quarantined, we can provide remote assistance to help you meet your ongoing environmental and safety compliance requirements. For details, call 800-537-2372.
Home Depot Fined $22,000 for Failing to Promptly Report Soil Contamination
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced that it has assessed a $22,000 penalty to Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia after the company failed to promptly report discovery of a release of metals to soil and later conducted additional excavation and soil disposal without proper approval at the company’s store at 130 Gold Star Boulevard in Worcester, MA.
In October 2017, the company excavated soil for the installation of fuel cells at the store property. Testing of the soil found levels of lead and arsenic in excavated soils requiring notification to MassDEP by March 8, 2018, before conducting further excavation and disposal of the soil as hazardous waste. The company excavated and disposed of approximately 280 cubic yards of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil before notifying MassDEP in June 2018.
“Businesses and persons undertaking construction projects in the Commonwealth must make themselves aware of the reporting requirements in the event of the discovery of a release of hazardous material to the environment,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, Director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “They must also remember that in such cases there are limits on soil excavation that require submittal of a proper plan to MassDEP before proceeding with further construction work.”
EHS Hour - Keep Up-to-Date and Learn Something New
Even though you might not be able to get to the office or attend meetings, you can still keep up with the latest EHS requirements and learn something new. Environmental Resource Center is introducing the EHS Hour as live, online sessions to help keep you informed and productive.
With your subscription, you can attend all of the sessions for just $250 per month, or you can attend any single session for $49 per person. Each session will be held from 11:00 am to noon Eastern Time.
Upcoming sessions include:
Stringent Drinking Water Standards for PFOA and PFOS Published in New Jersey
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection officially published its adoption of stringent, health-based drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and have been linked to various health problems in people.
Under rules published today in the New Jersey Register, the DEP formally established maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs, of 14 parts per trillion for PFOA and 13 parts per trillion for PFOS. The rules also add these chemicals to the state’s list of hazardous substances and sets these levels as formal groundwater quality standards for the purposes of site remediation activities and regulated discharges to groundwater.
“Safe drinking water is a top priority for the Murphy Administration,” said Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “With the adoption of these standards, New Jersey continues to lead the nation in protecting public health and the environment from these chemicals, which have been detected at varying levels across the state. New Jersey’s water systems have worked voluntarily and productively with us over the years, taking steps to protect the public when these chemicals have been detected. By adopting formal standards, we are putting in place a clear regulatory framework that will ensure consistency in monitoring, public notification and treatment across the state.”
PFOA and PFOS belong to a large class of synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. In 2018, New Jersey became the first state to adopt an MCL for any PFAS, setting an MCL of 13 parts per trillion for perfluorononanoic acid, or PFNA.  The federal government has not established MCLs for any PFAS. To date, New Hampshire and Vermont are the only other states to advance formal drinking water standards for PFAS.
imageThe adopted standards are based, in part, on recommendations made by the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute, an advisory panel comprising a broad range of water quality experts that reviewed numerous health studies and other data to support the stringent levels. Treatment technologies exist and are already in use by many water systems in New Jersey to effectively remove these chemicals from drinking water.
“I am pleased that the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute was able to work with all of our partners to make these recommendations that are now being adopted by the DEP,” said the Institute’s chairman, Dr. Keith Cooper, a professor of biochemistry and microbiology with Rutgers University. “These MCLs represent a tremendous amount of work and demonstrate the commitment of scientists, business leaders and regulators to protecting our drinking water and ensuring the public health of our residents.”
All public water systems must begin monitoring for PFOA and PFOS within the first quarter of 2021. If a system’s finished drinking water exceeds the MCL, it will be required to take necessary protective measures such as adding treatment systems or taking wells out of service. All results of testing will be made public through federally required Consumer Confidence Reports that water systems send to customers and post to their websites.
The rules also include a provision that allows public water systems to submit monitoring data for PFOA and PFOS prior to start of required monitoring. To date, more than 1,000 water systems have submitted PFOA and PFOS monitoring data. This information is available on the DEP’s Drinking Water Watch website.
In addition, beginning Dec. 1, 2021, private well owners will be required to test for PFOA, PFOS and PFNA under the requirements of the state’s Private Well Testing Act, which mandates testing during real estate transactions for private residences and periodic testing for rental properties.
Sites undergoing remediation in New Jersey are now also required to determine whether these contaminants have been discharged at the site and have impacted ground water. If so, remediation activities must meet the standards established in the Rule.
The durability of PFAS made them attractive many commercial and industrial applications. While thousands of PFAS have been developed and used over the years, some of the most common were PFOA and PFOS. Both PFOA and PFOS were previously used in aqueous film-forming foams for firefighting and training at military and civilian sites and are found in consumer products such as stain-resistant coatings for upholstery and carpets, water-resistant outdoor clothing, and grease-proof food packaging. PFOA has also been used as a processing aid in manufacture of fluoropolymers used in non-stick cookware and other products while PFOS was used in metal plating and finishing.
The durability that made these substances so popular means that these chemicals do not break down in the environment and accumulate over time in people. Health effects of concern for PFOA, PFOS and other types of PFAS include impacts on the liver, decreased immune system response to vaccines, delays in growth and development of fetuses and infants, and for PFOA and PFOS, an increased risk of cancer.
After the discovery of PFOA in tap water and supply wells of a public water system near DuPont’s Chambers Works plant in Salem County, New Jersey became the first state to conduct statewide studies of PFAS in drinking water. As a result, the DEP set a PFOA guidance level of 40 parts per trillion for water systems to follow. Research on environmental occurrence and human health risk assessment has been ongoing since then.
Last year, New Jersey became the first state to issue a statewide directive ordering companies to address contamination caused by the use and discharge of these chemicals. The companies named in the directive are DuPont, Chemours, 3M, and Solvay Polymers.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. Webcast attendees receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
How Air Pollution Messes with Our Minds
Air pollution has become a fact of modern life, with a majority of the global population facing chronic exposure. Although the impact of inhaling polluted air on the lungs is well known, scientists are just now beginning to understand how it affects the brain. A new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, details how researchers are connecting air pollution to dementia, autism and other neurological diseases.
Arising from vehicle emissions, power plants and factories, air pollution is a complex soup of gases, metals, organic contaminants and other materials. Over 90% of the world’s population is continually exposed to particulate matter (PM) pollution, which is known to penetrate deep into the lungs, at levels above the World Health Organization’s guidelines, writes Contributing Editor Janet Pelley. Inhaling these substances causes inflammation, which is the body’s healthy response to injury or infection, but over time chronic inflammation can damage healthy tissues.
Although the correlation between PM and lung damage is clear, scientists believe that these harmful particles can also impact the brain, either directly or indirectly. In a recent study, infant mice exposed to air pollution showed altered social behaviors similar to those of autistic children. Postmortem observations revealed inflammation and other abnormalities in the mice’s brains resembling changes seen in children with autism. Researchers suspect that iron particles in PM could play a role, as they are known to cause cell death in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In mice, inflammation caused by breathing polluted air also appears to boost the production of amyloid plaques, the sticky protein fragments associated with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. While evidence is mounting that air pollution can pose a serious threat to brain health, scientists emphasize that their research must coincide with policy changes to reduce pollution worldwide.
"When a worker says they are experiencing heat related illness and need assistance, employers must respond and take appropriate precautions. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke, and that can be deadly," said Larry Davidson, OSHA's area director in Des Moines.
Worker Fell 84 Feet to His Death at Hotel Construction Site
OSHA has cited two Florida construction contractors – CMR Construction & Roofing LLC of Panama City, Florida, and Modern Construction Experts LLC of Stuart, Florida – for failing to protect employees from fall hazards at a construction worksite in Panama City, Florida. The two companies face $126,169 in penalties.
An employee fatally fell 84 feet while working on the roof of a hotel. OSHA cited the contractors for failing to provide employees a fall protection system while working from heights.
“Workplace safety standards exist to ensure that workers return to their families at the end of each day free from harm,” said OSHA Jacksonville Area Director Michelle Gonzalez. “Disregarding legal obligations to identify and eliminate hazards can cause tragedies.”
OSHA’s Fall Protection in Construction booklet provides information on regulatory standards, including conventional fall protection systems, fall restraints, and training. The Fall Protection webpage offers extensive reference materials to help employers and workers recognize and prevent fall hazards.
EPA Settlement with Hydrite Chemical Co. for Alleged RMP Violations
EPA reached a settlement with Hydrite Chemical Co. to resolve alleged violations of federal Clean Air Act chemical accident prevention regulations following an accidental chemical release that injured an employee. The accident occurred at a Hydrite Chemical Co. chemical manufacturing and distribution facility in Waterloo, Iowa.
“The Risk Management Program protects workers at industrial facilities and those who live and work in surrounding communities,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Chemical facilities must adhere to RMP requirements to reduce the risk of accidental release of hazardous substances.”
Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA, and one of seven National Compliance Initiatives.
EPA inspected Hydrite in April 2019 in response to the accidental chemical release that injured one of its employees. At the time of the EPA inspection, the facility contained over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, making it subject to chemical accident prevention regulations – commonly known as the Risk Management Program – intended to protect communities from accidental releases of hazardous substances.
Anhydrous ammonia presents a significant health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs. Exposure may result in injury or death.
During the inspection, EPA determined that Hydrite failed to calculate and report the amount of anhydrous ammonia it stored; failed to develop and implement procedures for safely handling anhydrous ammonia and responding to accidental releases; and failed to timely implement recommendations from the company’s own compliance audits.
In response to the inspection findings, Hydrite took the necessary steps to return its facility to compliance. To settle the alleged violations, the company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $79,900.
EPA has found that many regulated facilities are not adequately managing the risks that they pose or ensuring the safety of their facilities in a way that is sufficient to protect surrounding communities. Approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur each year at regulated facilities. These accidents result in fatalities, injuries, significant property damage, evacuations, sheltering in place, or environmental damage. Many more accidents with lesser effects also occur, demonstrating a clear risk posed by these facilities.
New Waste ‘Reduction, Reuse and Recycling’ Guides Support a Healthy and Sustainable Nevada
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s (NDEP) Nevada Recycles Program, together with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Business Environmental Program (BEP), are excited to announce that several new sustainability guides are now available to help Nevadans “reduce, reuse, and recycle” as the State continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The new sustainability guides provide Nevadans with easy, eco-friendly tips for everyday life on topics such as:
  • How sustainability initiatives go hand in hand with our “new normal” and ways of doing business
  • Utilizing alternatives to disposable to-go ware
  • Establishing and/or maintaining sound recycling habits
  • Keeping disposable masks, wipes, and gloves out of the recycling bins
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nevada’s landfills have seen a significant spike in waste, primarily due to an increase in disposable products such as single-use plates, utensils, and more. Now more than ever, it is critical to adopt sustainable habits that reduce waste pollution, protect public health, preserve our precious natural resources, and support a vibrant economy.
“As part of our mission, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection remains committed to fostering a healthy and sustainable future for Nevada’s children, families, and communities,” said NDEP Administrator Greg Lovato. “Taking small steps such as reducing food waste, recycling, and choosing washable facemasks all contribute to a clean, thriving, and vibrant Nevada. We want to thank the University of Nevada, Reno, local businesses, and all Nevadans dedicated to supporting conservation efforts and ensuring the Silver State continues to be the number one place to live, work, and play for generations to come.”
Check out the guides on the Nevada Recycles website. To learn more about Nevada’s sustainability initiatives and be part of the conversation, follow @NevDCNR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
PA DEP Accepting Feedback on Regulations to Reduce Air Pollution from Natural Gas Development
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting public comment and will hold three virtual public hearings on regulations to reduce air pollution from existing unconventional natural gas wells and infrastructure. The regulations would restrict volatile organic compounds (VOC) and have a co-benefit of reducing methane emissions as well.
“This regulation is part of Governor Wolf’s Methane Reduction Strategy, which is an important part of fighting climate change in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “By utilizing reasonable pollution controls we can reduce air pollution from gas wells and related infrastructure and improve air quality.”
The draft regulation would require additional controls at unconventional natural gas well sites and related infrastructure like compressor stations. The draft regulation, if enacted, would reduce air pollution by 4,404 tons per year of VOCs and 75,603 tons per year of methane.
VOCs can cause ground-level ozone, which is a public health hazard, especially in hot summer months. Methane is a greenhouse gas and a primary component of natural gas.
To view the regulation or submit written comments please visit DEP’s eComment system. DEP will accept comments through Monday, July 27, 2020.
DEP will hold three virtual public hearings on the regulation:
  • Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 6 PM
  • Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 2 PM
  • Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 6 PM
Persons wishing to present testimony at a hearing must contact Jennifer Swan for the Department and the Board, 717-783-8727 or RA-EPEQB@pa.gov, at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing to reserve a time to present testimony. Addresses and phone numbers for all persons wishing to provide virtual testimony is required.
  • Witnesses must be a resident of this commonwealth to provide testimony.
  • Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on their behalf at only one hearing.
  • Verbal testimony is limited to 5 minutes for each witness.
  • Video demonstrations and screen sharing by witnesses will not be permitted.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7).  Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how you can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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