OSHA Announces 'Swept Up in Safety’ to Occur Unannounced Four Times This Year

April 02, 2007

OSHA will conduct one "Swept Up in Safety Week," without prior notice, during each quarter of 2007. These weeks are aimed at reducing an upward trend in construction-related fatalities in the Southeast, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. OSHA compliance officers will focus enforcement efforts on construction sites throughout the region.

The "Swept Up in Safety Week" series is intended to identify and fix safety hazards, thereby reducing exposure to the four leading causes of employee fatalities in the Southeast: falls, struck by objects and vehicles, crushing, and electrocutions. OSHA compliance officers also will stop by construction sites when they happen to see conditions that are in compliance in an effort to recognize and further encourage the safe behaviors of those employers.

"OSHA's goal is to raise awareness about the safety hazards that lead to employee deaths," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "Our compliance officers will conduct immediate inspections when they observe unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches, and other construction hazards, and also will stop to recognize compliance-oriented employers."

"OSHA's first 'Swept Up in Safety Week' was conducted in December 2006, and was very successful in eliminating hazardous conditions and raising the awareness of employers," Coe emphasized.

OSHA has several special emphasis programs that allow immediate inspections when safety and health hazards are observed at a worksite. The programs also include separate outreach, education, and training components that encourage employers and employees to visit the agency's Web site or to call an OSHA office for information about providing safe and healthy worksites.


OSHA and Black Contractors Association Partner to Promote Construction Safety


Enhanced safety for construction employees is the goal of a new partnership signed by OSHA and the Black Contractors Association. The association represents more than 100 companies, many in the construction industry, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area.

The primary goal of the partnership is to create a comprehensive safety and health program emphasizing employer awareness of hazardous conditions, including prevention of electrocutions, falls, and injuries caused by being struck by or caught between objects.

"This agreement provides an opportunity for OSHA and the Black Contractors Association to work together in promoting the value of safety and health for construction employees throughout Dallas and Fort Worth," said Kathryn Delaney, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "We are pleased the association is committed to providing a healthful environment for its member companies' employees."

OSHA's Strategic Partnership Program is part of the agency's ongoing efforts to improve the health and safety of employees through cooperative relationships with trade associations, labor organizations, employers, and employees. More than one million employees and more than 33,000 employers across the United States have participated with OSHA in more than 440 strategic partnerships since the program began in 1998.


Contractor Fined $36,400 by OSHA for Cave-in Hazard


A Fall River, Mass., contractor's failure to supply cave-in protection for an employee working in a 7.3-feet deep excavation in Norwood, Mass., has resulted in $36,400 in proposed fines from OSHA.

Biszko Contracting Corp. was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following a Nov. 8, 2006, OSHA inspection on Lenox Street in Norwood, where the company was relining water pipes. An OSHA inspector, while driving past the site had observed an apparently unprotected trench and opened an immediate inspection. The inspection found a company employee working in the unprotected straight-walled trench. OSHA standards require that all trenches five feet or deeper be guarded against collapse.

"Trench walls can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "This employer knew collapse protection was required, having been cited for a similar hazard in November 2005, yet failed to provide this vital and required safeguard."

As a result, OSHA issued Biszko Contracting one willful citation, carrying a proposed fine of $35,000, for the lack of cave-in protection. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company was also issued one serious citation, with a $1,400 proposed fine, for lack of head protection for the employee in the trench. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.


OSHA to Support 2007 Campaign to Protect Highway Employees


OSHA will participate in National Work Zone Awareness Week 2007, a campaign that highlights safety awareness for employees in highway work zones. This year's campaign theme, "Signs for Change" reminds drivers to be aware of highway work zones and obey work zone signs.

"Employees who work in highway zones have one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States and these employees need not only OSHA's support, but the support of everyone who gets behind the wheel on a daily basis," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "There were nearly 1,100 work zone fatalities in 2005 -- that is a tragedy. I am hopeful that campaigns like this will help reduce those numbers."

OSHA has a variety of resources that focus on health and safety for construction employees and others working in highway work zones. OSHA's safety and health topics page entitled "Motor Vehicle Safety" focuses on the broader issue of safety on the highways.


This year's campaign will run April 1-7.


OSHA Makes Regulatory Flexibility Act Review Available


OSHA has made available the look-back study for OSHA's construction standard on excavations. 

"Our regulatory review found that the 1989 Excavations Standard has reduced deaths from approximately 90 per year to 70 per year. In addition, overall construction industry activity when adjusted for inflation has increased 20 percent," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "As a result, the OSHA Standard will remain in effect, although we will be looking to issue some improved guidance and training materials to help employers keep their employees safe."

In 1989, OSHA issued a final, revised Excavations Standard to reduce deaths and injuries from excavation and trenching activities in the construction industry. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 directs OSHA to review and evaluate the effectiveness of its standards and the affect those standards have had on lowering injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace. The agency undertook the Regulatory Flexibility Act review of the Excavations Standard to determine whether the rule should be continued without change or should be amended or revoked.

Copies of the entire report may be obtained from OSHA's Office of Publications, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-3101, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. The telephone number is (202) 693-1888. The full report, comments, and referenced documents are available for review at the OSHA Docket Office, new Docket Number 2007-0012, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. The phone number is (202) 693-2350.

Further information can be obtained from Joanna Dizikes Friedrich, OSHA Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-3641, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. The phone number is (202) 693-1939.


OSHA Proposes $120,000 in Penalties for Rexnord Industries' West Milwaukee Facility


OSHA has proposed $120,000 in fines against the west Milwaukee, Wis., facility of Rexnord Industries LLC for alleged serious and repeat safety and health violations of federal workplace safety standards.

OSHA opened an inspection at Rexnord Industries in September 2006 after receiving information alleging workplace hazards about indoor air quality and personal protective equipment. One serious and four repeat safety citations, with proposed penalties totaling $115,000, were issued alleging a lack of guarding on chain and sprocket equipment, lack of guarding on mechanical presses and load rams, failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures, and lack of mechanical power press inspections.

Rexnord Industries also received $5,000 in proposed penalties for three alleged serious health violations: lack of employee personal protective equipment during exposure to cutting fluids, lack of proper labeling on hazardous chemicals, and blocked space around electrical panels. The company also received one other-than-serious violation for aisles not being adequately marked.

"OSHA will do all it can to find safety and health hazards in the workplace and insist they be corrected," said Nick Antonio, OSHA's acting area director in Milwaukee. "These are among the best services we can perform for working men and women."


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