OSHA recently reminded employers that the agency covers safety and health conditions not specifically covered by the U.S. Coast Guard on all vessels within three nautical miles of shore.
Regardless of whether they are inspected or uninspected, all vessels must report fatalities to OSHA at 800-321-OSHA within 8 hours. Vessels must report all in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees, amputations, or loss of an eye within 24 hours.
OSHA will refer all safety and health concerns for crew on inspected vessels to the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Too many employers tell us they were unaware that OSHA covered their operations," said Cecil Tipton, the agency's area director in Portland. "Our goal is to coordinate with our partners in the maritime industry to safeguard the men and women working offshore."
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How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)
OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on safety data sheets.
Environmental Resource Center is offering live online training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented.
Cal/OSHA Urges Employers to Protect Outdoor Workers from Record-Breaking Heat Wave
With this year’s heat season approaching, Cal/OSHA hosted a news conference recently to remind employers that prevention is the best defense for outdoor workers against heat-related illness and death.
Two bilingual trainings, co-sponsored by the Nisei Farmers League and 11 other agricultural employers, were held recently in Easton. The trainings highlight the need to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and the requirements under California’s heat illness standard.
“Employers at outdoor worksites must know the steps to take to prevent heat illness injuries on the job,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Cal/OSHA continues to focus on training and outreach, combined with enforcement targeting those employers who put their workers’ safety at risk.”
The risk of heat illness is generally highest for people who work outdoors. Therefore, Cal/OSHA’s approach to prevention includes inspections at outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, landscaping, and construction during heat season.
- Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention.
- Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, or four 8-ounce glasses of water per hour, and encourage them to do so.
- Provide access to shade and encourage employees to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. Shade structures must be in place when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or upon request.
- Closely observe all employees during a heat wave and any employee newly assigned to a high heat area. Lighter work, frequent breaks, or shorter hours will help employees who have not been working in high temperatures adapt to the new conditions.
- Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard, including plans on how to handle medical emergencies and steps to take if someone shows signs or symptoms of heat illness.
The most frequent violation that Cal/OSHA cites during targeted heat inspections is for failure to have a proper written heat illness prevention plan specific to the worksite. Serious violations are often related to inadequate access to water and shade, and to a lack of supervisor and employee training.
To remain in compliance with the standard, Cal/OSHA encourages employers and worker supervisors to learn more about the standard, which was updated in 2015.
Employers should call 800-963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.
Greenness Around Homes Linked to Lower Mortality
Women live longer in areas with more green vegetation, according to new research funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. Women with the highest levels of vegetation, or greenness, near their homes had a 12% lower death rate compared to women with the lowest levels of vegetation near their homes. The results were published April 14 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The researchers found the biggest differences in death rates from kidney disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. The researchers also explored how an environment with trees, shrubs, and plants might lower mortality rates. They showed that improved mental health and social engagement are the strongest factors, while increased physical activity and reduced air pollution also contribute.
"It is important to know that trees and plants provide health benefits in our communities, as well as beauty," said NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. "The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways."
The study, conducted by scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, examined greenness around the homes of 108,630 women in the long-term Nurses' Health Study. The researchers mapped home locations and used high-resolution satellite imagery to determine the level of vegetation within 250 meters and 1,250 meters of homes. They then followed the women from 2000 to 2008, tracking changes in vegetation and participant deaths. During the study, 8,604 deaths occurred.
The scientists consistently found lower mortality rates in women as levels of trees and plants increased around their homes. This trend was seen for separate causes of death, as well as when all causes were combined. When researchers compared women in the areas with highest greenness to women in the lowest, they found a 41% lower death rate for kidney disease, 34% lower death rate for respiratory disease, and 13% lower death rate for cancer in the greenest areas.
"The ability to examine vegetation in relatively fine detail around so many homes, while also considering the characteristics of the individual participants, is a major strength of this study," said Bonnie Joubert, Ph.D., NIEHS scientific program director overseeing the study. "This builds on prior studies showing the health benefits of greenness that used community-level or regional data."
The scientists also looked at characteristics that can otherwise contribute to mortality risk, such as age, race, ethnicity, smoking, and socioeconomic status. This enabled them to be more confident that vegetation plays a role in reduced mortality, rather than these factors. If participants moved or the vegetation near their homes changed during the study, the scientists took those changes into account in their study.
Governor Reminds Workers and Residents to Focus on Safety
April marks the beginning of the construction season—both at your home and on the roadway. Governor Michael R. Pence is encouraging all Hoosiers to think about safety by always driving carefully in work zones and calling 811 before starting any digging project.
Governor Pence recently signed a proclamation declaring April 2016 as Safe Digging Month across Indiana. This month is dedicated to increasing awareness of safe digging practices and reminding homeowners and professionals when to contact 811. Nationwide, underground utility lines are damaged every six minutes because someone didn’t contact 811.
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), the Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL), the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) and Indiana 811, urge Hoosiers to make safety a priority for all professional and home projects.
By law, digging projects must begin with contacting Indiana 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree are all examples of digging projects that should begin only after all buried facilities have been located and clearly marked with paint and/or flags. Homeowners are exempted from calling if they are digging on their own property with hand tools to a depth of 12 inches or less. However, striking a single buried utility can cause serious injury, death, expensive repair fees, fines and disruption of everything from running water to 911 services. The State of Indiana encourages all Hoosiers to call 811, no matter how small the digging project.
This will allow a professional locator to visit the property and mark the approximate locations of any buried utility lines in the project area free of charge. Remember that time, erosion or even tree roots can shift the locations of utility lines from year to year. Even if you think you know where your utilities are, always call before you dig.
Finally, if work is planned in a public right of way, contact the appropriate state or local agency to obtain a permit prior to starting the project. Remember, public right of way normally includes areas close to the road where sidewalks and utility poles are installed.
Pay Attention to Work Zones
Away from home and on the road, Hoosiers should pay special attention to roadway work zones. The Indiana Department of Transportation is investing more than $850 million in more than 770 construction projects during 2016. INDOT is moving aggressively to modernize our state’s infrastructure, and drivers will see more work on existing state highway roads and bridges. INDOT’s goal is to maximize both the safety and mobility of motorists and workers while maintaining as much access as possible to businesses, residents and emergency services.
Give Construction Workers Space
Hardworking Hoosiers are on job sites throughout the state, working to build, repair, and replace Indiana’s utility and road infrastructure. Respect work zones established by contractors and be sure to slow down when in a construction area. In 2014 alone, 11 people were killed and more than 600 people were injured in Indiana highway work zones. Most of these injuries and deaths are caused by rear-end collisions, following too closely or making improper lane changes. We all play an important part in helping our fellow Hoosiers get home from the job site safe. Plan ahead and allow extra time while traveling in work zones.
Slow Down and Avoid Distractions
Roadway work zones leave no room for distractions and require attentive, cautious driving habits. Do not use cell phones while driving, especially in a work zone. Several studies show drivers using a phone are four times more likely to be in a crash. Other distractions, anything other than driving, can be just as dangerous.
Motorists face fines of up to $1,000 for speeding, up to $5,000 for driving recklessly or aggressively and up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six years for injuring or killing a worker. These fines are used to fund additional work zone patrols.
Both at home and away, Hoosiers should keep safety in mind. Together, we can keep our homes, streets and each other safe.
Five Times in One Year, Jasper Contractors Exposes Workers to Dangerous Falls
Recent federal inspections of Florida construction sites finds Jasper Contractors, Inc., a Georgia-based roofing company, is continuing its seven-year history of ignoring safety and health laws and putting workers at risk of serious injury or death.
Since 2009, OSHA has completed 13 inspections at Jasper work sites and found 24 violations.
Inspectors found the employer did not ensure employees were properly wearing fall protection equipment and exposed workers to the risk of falls from as high as 8-feet. They also found the employer failed to ensure workers operating powered nail guns used eye protection.
"Despite its claim that its employees 'are adults who know the risks,' Jasper Contractors has a legal responsibility to protect its employees," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "This company's dismissive approach toward workplace safety is illegal and irresponsible. OSHA will continue to use all its available resources to ensure workers are protected."
Alfa Laval Inc. Fined $172,700 for Exposing Workers to Amputation, Stuck-by Hazards
Responding to a complaint, OSHA inspectors opened their investigation on October 2015 at Alfa Laval, Inc., in Houston, Texas. They also failed to guard lathes to prevent workers' exposure to crushed-by and caught-in hazards, and failed to provide workers with effective workplace information and training on hazardous chemicals.
Proposed penalties total $172,700.
"Working on a machine without safety guards can cost someone a limb or their life," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in the Houston North office. "Alfa Laval has a responsibility to find and fix hazards in the workplace which endanger its employees. OSHA will not tolerate employers that ignore commonsense safety requirements."
V&T Painting Fined $121,880 for Willfully Exposing Workers to Lead
On October 6, 2015, OSHA began its inspection in a proactive enforcement effort aimed at industries, such as construction, with high injury and illness rates. Inspectors found that workers in an abrasive blasting operation were exposed to lead as they removed paint on water tanks. While employees used respirators, the company chose not to use ventilation units it had onsite to reduce the levels of lead inside the tank. Inspectors also found the company exposed employees to lead when it failed to follow proper decontamination procedures that required a vacuum and showers onsite for employees to use as they exited the tank. OSHA cited the company for these hazards.
Citations were also issued for scaffold deficiencies and a lack of fall protection. Proposed penalties total $121,880.
"V&T Painting exposed its employees and their families to the unnecessary risk of unsafe lead exposure by not properly protecting them," said Mark Stelmack director of OSHA's Wilkes-Barre Area Office. "Lead harms the brain, nervous system, blood and kidneys. It is a hazard that must be taken seriously. OSHA will not tolerate when employers fail to provide a safe and healthy workplace for workers."
Becton, Dickinson and Co. Fined for Machine Hazards After Two Workers Suffer Amputations
After two workers suffered partial amputations of their index fingers in separate incidents in October 2015, federal investigators found numerous machines lacked safety guards at the Holdrege facility of Becton, Dickinson and Company, a global medical technology company.
OSHA previously cited BD for machine hazards at the same facility in April and September 2015. The agency has proposed penalties of $112,700.
"In 2015, a total of 52 Nebraska workers suffered preventable amputation injuries," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in Omaha. "OSHA's common sense safety standards require manufacturers to provide training, safe guards and procedures to prevent workers from coming in contact with the operating parts of a machine. Employers like BD must do more to protect workers from these debilitating injuries."
OSHA's investigation found the company failed to provide:
- An eye-washing station for employees exposed to corrosive materials
Since January 1, 2015, OSHA requires all employers to report any severe work-related injury—defined as a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye—within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force. In the first full year of the program, employers nationwide reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations, and 2,644 amputations.
Iowa Postal Distribution Center Exposed Workers to Forklift Injuries
The citations follow an October 2015 OSHA investigation of a complaint alleging forklift operators were handling unstable loads and driving forward with no clear path of visibility.
The facility is part of the national system of highly mechanized and automated mail processing with a transportation network dedicated to handling and moving standard mail, periodicals, package services, and other mail classes.
"Each year, thousands of workers are injured—some fatally—while operating forklifts. Employers with workers who move materials with forklifts must ensure loads are stable, and pathways are clear to prevent injury," said Larry Davidson, OSHA's area director in Des Moines.
Quick Roofing LLC Repeatedly Exposed Workers to Falls, Ladder Hazards, and Eye Injuries
On November 23, 2015, after witnessing three roofers at work at a site in Conroe, Texas, not using fall protection systems, OSHA inspectors began an investigation of their employer, Quick Roofing, LLC.
- Dallas in December 2015
- San Antonio in October 2015
- Austin in September 2015
- Fort Worth in July 2014 and February 2013
Proposed penalties total $80,280.
"Falls from roofs and ladders can debilitate or kill workers," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in the Houston North office. "Quick Roofing's continued history of ignoring federal safety standards must end. OSHA will not tolerate employers that repeatedly ignore commonsense safety requirements."
In 2014, more than 800 workers died after falling. From May 2–6, 2016, construction employers and employees across the country will stop work for a few hours to learn more about how to recognize and prevent fall hazards.
Cal/OSHA Cites Santa Barbara Employer $72,735 for Violating Stop-Work Order on Scaffold and Unreported Serious Injuries
Cal/OSHA issued citations to DP Investments after the employer violated a stop-work order that was placed on scaffolding at a Santa Barbara construction site to prevent employees from being injured. DP Investments was also cited April 6 for failure to report a workplace injury as required by law.
Cal/OSHA’s Van Nuys office opened an inspection on October 12 after receiving a complaint about the worksite at 1816 State Street, where the Fiesta Inn and Suites were undergoing renovation. Cal/OSHA’s inspector notified the employer, Dario Pini, that the scaffolding on one building put workers in danger of serious injuries as it lacked a ladder for safe access, a guardrail to prevent falls, and base plates to provide a firm foundation on the ground.
The employer was informed that no one would be permitted to use the scaffolding until the hazards were corrected and that the stop order could only be removed by Cal/OSHA. Pini was also advised that removal or defiance of the stop-work order is prohibited by law. A follow-up inspection on October 23 revealed that the stop-work order had been removed from the scaffolding without permission and that employees had resumed working on the structure without any safety modifications.
During the course of the investigation, Cal/OSHA became aware of an unreported injury at the State Street renovation site from late August 2015. A carpenter suffered multiple fractures after falling 11.5 feet onto a cement walkway outside the building when a window grate bolt was removed and the window grating swung open.
“Falls are a leading cause of serious and fatal injuries for employees at construction sites,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “This incident serves as a reminder to employers that fall protection must be taken seriously in all parts of a construction project involving elevated work.”
Cal/OSHA cited DP Investments for 12 workplace safety violations, including one willful serious for removing the stop-work order, with a proposed penalty of $54,000. Two serious citations, with penalties of $5,400 each, were issued because rooftop workers were exposed to falls as high as 18 feet without personal fall protection equipment, and the scaffold was not assembled under the direction of a qualified person. Additional citations penalized DP Investment for its failure to provide employees with safe workplace practice information and lack of training for supervisory employees.
A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition. A willful violation is cited when the employer is aware of the law and violates it nevertheless, or when the employer is aware of the hazardous condition and takes no reasonable steps to address it.
Cal/OSHA investigators filed the case with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office, citing the removal of the stop-work order as a criminal offense. In March, the District Attorney’s office announced that Dario Pini entered a plea of no contest and was sentenced to 3 years of probation.
These publications allow workers, employers and supervisors to quickly reference key safety requirements in clear, concise terms.
Cooper Hospital Exposed Employees to Needle-Stick Injuries, Bloodborne Pathogen Hazards
Inspectors issued serious citations after determining the hospital failed to:
- Provide employee training on the hazards of methylene chloride, a cancer-causing chemical
- Monitor employees who may be exposed to methylene chloride
- Immediately discard contaminated sharps in appropriate containers
- Ensure its bloodborne pathogens program included engineering controls to prevent needlesticks
“The citations and proposed penalties in this case reflect the seriousness of Cooper Hospital’s failure to protect its employees from needle-stick injuries and bloodborne pathogen hazards,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, OSHA’s area director in Marlton. “The hospital must continue monitoring and investing in sustained efforts to prevent these injuries from jeopardizing worker safety and health.”
Breedlove Foods Fined $50,400 After Worker Suffers Amputation
OSHA Lubbock Area Office began the inspection of Breedlove Foods, Inc., of Lubbock, Texas, on October16, 2015, after a feed auger amputated an employee’s hand as the worker performed cleaning work in and around the operating machine. Investigators found that the employer did not provide a safe working environment for its employees.
- Not having an emergency stop on equipment
- Allowing wet floors to create slip hazards
- Permitting exit routes and electrical panels to be blocked
Proposed penalties total $50,400.
Williamson Plumbing and Heating Inc. Employee Hospitalized After Trench Cave-in
On September 30, 2015, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency notified OSHA of a trench collapse and the federal agency opened an inspection. When OSHA inspectors arrived onsite, they found a Williamson Plumbing employee was injured while working in an unprotected trench approximately 10-feet deep. The trench's sidewall collapsed—trapping and injuring the worker who required hospitalization. OSHA cited the plumbing contractor's company for the hazard.
The agency also issued citations to the company for failing to:
- Keep excavated materials at least 2 feet from the edge of the trench
- Construct trenches in accordance with allowable slopes and configurations
- Ensure that a competent person inspected the trench
- Instruct employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions
- Maintain OSHA injury and illness records
Proposed penalties total $41,200.
"Williamson Plumbing and Heating was lucky to avoid tragedy here. Trench collapses can easily become underground deathtraps for workers. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a small automobile in a cave-in," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office. "Incidents like this one are preventable when an employer puts a proper protective system in place. Any company engaged in excavation and trenching operations has a responsibility to do what's required to ensure its employees are safe while they work."
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