OSHA Cites Employer in Tipover Death, Stresses Need for Proper Worker Training

April 24, 2003

The death of a Massachusetts worker, killed when his truck tipped over while he was working in an aerial lift, could have been prevented if the truck had been properly positioned and the worker trained in its correct operation, according to OSHA.

Brite Lite Electrical Co., Inc., of Weymouth, Mass., has been cited for four alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and faces $14,700 in fines following the Nov. 24 death of Dennis O'Neil of Tewksbury, Mass. O'Neill was working in the bucket of an aerial lift, stringing Christmas lights on Waltham Common, when the truck tipped over, causing him to fall to the ground.

OSHA's inspection found that the truck had been positioned on soft soil rather than a solid surface and its outriggers had not been properly deployed to effectively stabilize it, explained Richard Fazzio, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. As a result, OSHA cited the company for failing to ensure the outriggers were placed on a solid surface and that employees were properly trained to do so.

"Trucks with aerial lifts must have their outriggers fully deployed and properly supported," "said Fazzio. "Training employees in the specific requirements and safe work practices for each type of vehicle they work with is the most effective means of preventing tragedies such as this one."

Brite Lite was also cited for three hazards found on a second truck: a broken ladder railing, unlabeled controls and employees exposed to fall hazards while operating an aerial lift due to lack of operating instructions, load labels and documentation of required equipment testing and lack of annual inspections by qualified personnel.

Two OSHA Investigations Bring Citations, Fines of $138,000 for Forging Company

A Houston company has been cited $138,000 for its safety and health violations by OSHA for exposing its employees to damaged electrical conductors and failure to provide an adequate preventative maintenance program or periodic equipment inspections.

OSHA began one of two investigations of Wyman Gordon Forgings on Nov. 4, 2002, following a complaint. Precision Castparts Corp. in Portland, Ore., owns Wyman Gordon Forgings, a subsidiary of Wyman Gordon, headquartered in North Grafton, Mass. Wyman Gordon Forgings employs about 700 workers in Houston. Precision Casparts employs about 1,700 workers nationwide.

"We expect employers to make sure that workplaces are safe," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Most employers place a high priority on the safety and health of their employees and take the steps necessary to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace. But when they don't, the Department of Labor will move to hold them accountable."

Wyman Gordon Forgings was cited with 44 alleged serious safety and health violations including failure to provide periodic inspections of cranes and lifting devices, failure to provide personal protective equipment, failure to implement lockout/tagout procedures for energized equipment and failure to provide the necessary training to operate and maintain hazardous machinery. OSHA issued citations for these violations with a proposed penalty of $133,000.

The second inspection, which covered the period December 2002-April 2003, resulted in a serious citation totaling $5,000 for subjecting employees to sound levels exceeding those listed in OSHA's guidelines. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Administrative and/or engineering controls were not utilized to reduce noise levels," said John Lawson, OSHA's area director at the Houston north area office. "Employee exposure to high noise levels in the workplace is preventable."

Wyman Gordon Forgings has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the area director, or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Partners with Colorado Professional Safety and Health Associations to Present "Safety Fest of the West"

Providing affordable training to front line workers and supervisors as a way of reducing the number of injuries, illnesses and fatalities in construction and general industry in Colorado is the focal point of a two-day safety and health training conference and exhibition May 7 & 8, 2003 in Denver.

Co-sponsored by OSHA in partnership with several Colorado associations and consultation and training organizations, the "SafetyFest of the West" will be held at the Denver Merchandise Mart, (I-25 & 58th Avenue) from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. each day. SafetyFest is being held in conjunction with the 2003 Rocky Mountain Industrial & Machine Tools Show.

"Cooperative efforts such as this one in Colorado encourage businesses to develop and maintain effective safety and health programs," said U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "They are a key element of the Labor Department's compliance assistance efforts."

Training sessions will be offered in both English and Spanish with general industry and management courses on May 7 and construction industry courses on May 8.

"SafetyFest this year will address hazards causing the most injuries and illnesses in manufacturing, maintenance operations and, in many cases, construction-related activities," said Adam Finkel, OSHA regional administrator in Denver. "Course selection was based on Colorado and national injury statistics."

Course offerings include sessions on: Ergonomics of Lifting and Carrying; Fall Protection; Respiratory Hazards and Noise; Scaffolding; Trenching and Excavating; Flammable & Combustible Materials; Handheld Power-Operated Tools and Equipment; Electrical Safety; Confined Spaces; OSHA Recordkeeping; and Emergency Preparedness. A special class on Defensive Driving will be held only on May 7 and will include practice on a driving simulator.

Registration for the training event is $30 per day before April 30 or $35 per day after May 1 or at-the-door and includes a choice of four training events scheduled for that day, entry to the exhibit hall, morning coffee and pastries, a box lunch and a ticket for the afternoon raffle of safety equipment and other prizes. Register on-line at http://www.tradeshowswest.com/rmimt/rmimt.htm or call 1-800-794-3706.

Along with OSHA, co-sponsors include: American Society of Safety Engineers, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of Colorado, Colorado Contractors Association, Inc., Colorado OSHA Consultation Program at CSU, Hispanic Contractors of Colorado, Pinnacol Assurance and the Rocky Mountain Education Center OSHA Training Institute.

OSHA Schedules Public Hearing on Standards Improvement Project Proposal

OSHA has scheduled an informal public hearing here, July 8-9, 2003 to discuss the agency's proposed rule on the second phase of the Standards Improvement Project.

OSHA is scheduling the informal hearing in response to requests from a number of interested parties who made comments to the revisions, first proposed last October.

The project addresses 40 provisions in 23 health standards for general industry, maritime and construction that are inconsistent, duplicative, or outdated. The changes in the standards are expected to reduce the regulatory burdens on employers while maintaining the safety and health protections afforded to workers.

OSHA first made several substantive revisions in 1998 to its health and safety standards. The agency has since identified other regulatory provisions involving notification of use, frequency of exposure monitoring and medical surveillance, and similar provisions that may be unnecessary or ineffective in protecting worker safety and health.

Interested parties wishing to present testimony at the hearing should notify OSHA not later than June 5, 2003. Notices of intent to appear should be submitted in triplicate to: Docket Office, Docket No. S-778-A, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. Notices may also be faxed to the Docket Office at (202) 693-1648 or submitted electronically to http://ecomments.osha.gov.

The hearing is open to the public and will be held in the auditorium of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, at the address above, beginning at 10 a.m. on July 8. Testimony will begin at 9 a.m. on July 9, and any subsequent days (if necessary).

Revised Hours-of-Service Rule to Help Ensure Truck Drivers Get Adequate Rest

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the first substantial change to the hours-of-service rules (HOS) since 1939. The science-based HOS final rule will improve highway safety and help reduce the number of truck crashes and related fatalities and injuries by addressing commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver fatigue.

Simultaneously, the agency plans to expand its research initiative on electronic onboard recorders (EOBR) and other technologies, including evaluating alternatives for encouraging or providing incentives for their use to ensure HOS recordkeeping and compliance. While FMCSA has concluded that the safety and economic data needed to justify an EOBR requirement in the HOS final rule are not available at this time, there are several technologies that offer significant promise, FMCSA plans to investigate in this important area.

The new rules allow drivers to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Also, drivers may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on-duty, following 10 hours off-duty. Similar to existing rules, drivers may not drive after being on-duty for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in an eight-consecutive-day period. This on-duty cycle may be restarted whenever a driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

Short-haul truck drivers – those drivers who routinely return to their place of dispatch after each duty tour and then are released from duty – may have an increased on-duty period of 16 hours once during any seven-consecutive-day period. The 16-hour exception takes into consideration legitimate business needs without jeopardizing safety. FMCSA estimates that without the extra two on-duty hours, the industry would be required to hire at least 48,000 new drivers, actually reducing crash-reduction benefits.

The current rule allows 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour on-duty period after eight hours of off-duty time. Also, drivers may not drive after their 15th hour on duty in a workday or after 60 hours on-duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours on-duty in eight consecutive days.

The FMCSA estimates the new rule will save up to 75 lives and prevent as many as 1,326 fatigue-related crashes annually. There were an estimated 4,902 truck-related fatalities in traffic crashes in 2002.

Acting FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg stated, “The hours-of-service final rule represents a significant improvement in addressing driver fatigue over the current rule that has been in existence more than 60 years. It is a rule that not only is based on science, but makes practical sense from both a lifesaving and operations perspective, ensuring greater safety without additional enforcement complexity.”

This rule governs drivers transporting freight in interstate commerce in a property-carrying commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, and operating vehicles transporting hazardous materials in quantities requiring vehicle placards. Carriers will operate under current hours-of-service regulations through Jan. 3, 2004. Drivers of buses (passenger-carrying CMVs) involved in interstate transportation will continue to use the current hours-of-service regulations.

Vehicles used in oil-field operations, ground-water well-drilling operations, utility service, and transporting construction materials and equipment retain the 24-hour restart provision provided by the National Highway System Designation Act. Agricultural operations will retain their current statutory exemption from driving time requirements when occurring within a 100 air-mile radius of a farm or distribution point during planting and harvesting seasons.

FMCSA and its state enforcement partners will begin enforcing the final rule beginning Jan. 4, 2004. The implementation plan provides the FMCSA and states needed time to modify computer systems to reflect the regulatory changes, train more than 8,000 state and federal personnel, and provide education and outreach to the industry. In addition, the implementation plan allows carriers and drivers time to become familiar with the new regulation and make any procedural changes necessary for compliance.

Rules for the record-of-duty status form, also known as a driver’s daily log, remain unchanged for truck and bus drivers. Those truck and bus drivers operating within a 100 air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work location, who return to that location and are released from duty within 12 hours, will keep time cards as allowed under the current rules.

To support the development of the final rule, the FMCSA held eight public hearings, and three round-table sessions to solicit comments, and reviewed more than 53,000 written comments following the notice of proposed rulemaking.

OSHA's New Evacuation Planning Matrix Will Help Employers Plan for Emergencies

OSHA announced the release of a new tool to help employers plan for emergency evacuation of the workplace in emergency situations. The new Evacuation Planning Matrix located on OSHA's website will provide employers with ideas, assistance, and on-line resources to help them reduce their vulnerability to and plan for workplace emergencies.

"Recent events in the United States have underscored the critical importance of workplace evacuation planning," said John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "An effective evacuation plan will increase the likelihood that employees will reach shelter safely if an emergency that requires evacuation does occur."

The Evacuation Planning Matrix includes a checklist for employers to help them evaluate their existing plans to or help in constructing new ones; a zone pyramid system to evaluate a workplace's risk of a terrorist incident; and other related on-line resources to help employers and employees develop emergency evacuation plans.

OSHA is committed to strengthening workplace planning and preparedness so that employers and workers may better protect themselves and reduce the likelihood that they may be harmed in the event of an emergency requiring evacuation. OSHA continues to work with other Federal response agencies to provide accurate, current information in this rapidly developing area of occupational safety and health.

The new guidance is offered to assist employers and workers who are interested in implementing plans and procedures for possible emergency events. However, the guidance does not create legal obligations for employers or create rights for third parties. Legal obligations under the OSH Act are created by statute, regulations, and standards.