OSHA Convenes First National Strategic Partnership Conference

March 21, 2005

"Building Partnerships for a Safer Tomorrow" was the theme of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's inaugural conference here March 16 and 17 to spotlight successes and best practices of the agency's National Strategic Partnership Program. The conference was held at the U.S. Department of Labor's Frances Perkins Building.

The conference marked the first opportunity for OSHA and its national partners to share ideas, strategies and successes of partnership programs designed to strengthen worker protections throughout the nation.

"The partnerships represented during this conference serve as role models in their industries and throughout their communities," said Jonathan L. Snare, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "Each participant has willingly moved beyond the bounds of individual interest to serve as a safety and health leader. This commitment to workplace safety and health is evidence of the partnership program's success."

OSHA staff and conference participants worked to identify common issues, solutions, and ways to leverage resources for continued successful programs. Key discussions centered on partnership management strategies, the use of data collection and analysis to gauge progress, impact on partnerships by both internal and external changes, and sharing of ergonomic best practices.

OSHA launched its Strategic Partnership Program in 1998 and, by the end of last year, had signed more than 350 national, regional and local agreements impacting more than 13,000 employers and more than 720,000 workers across the United States. Currently, 226 partnerships remain open, including 11 national partnerships that impact over 225,000 employees across the United States.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.

Brian Head Cited in Employee Death

In Cedar City, UT today, Brian Head Resort has been cited for an alleged safety violation in the death of a lift operator. The citation by the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleged lack of machine guarding on its snow tubing hill.

Kathleen Downward, 18, was killed Feb. 19 when she became entangled in the lift machinery she was operating.

"There was no guarding that was designed and in place because the manufacturer didn't put it in there," said Tori Burns, OSHA compliance manager.

The snow tubing park recently reopened after being closed during the investigation. The resort's snow tubing hill has been open for eight years and functions like a frozen waterslide. It offers six lanes with a surface lift that carries people riding the tubes hooked to a rope tow to the top of the park. Downward had just finished her shift when the accident occurred.

"Our investigation findings were that she was caught by a hook and taken over the bull wheel. We have two eye witnesses that told us that," said Gary Bulloch, Brian Head public safety director.

Craig McCarthy, resort director of marketing and public relations, said the only information they had received from OSHA was approval to reopen the park.

"We have not heard from OSHA about a safety citation, interestingly enough," McCarthy said. "We got the green light to continue normal operation of the tubing park and we will continue that normal operation. ... But out of respect for the family, we'd rather not make any comment until we have more information.'ö

Sherrie Downward, Kathleen's mother, said she'd seen her daughter operate the tubing hill lift machinery and it appeared safe. Sherrie said the family does not intend to pursue any legal action.

OSHA Produces New Training Video Aimed at Reducing Shipyard Fatalities

Reducing fatal shipyard accidents is the intent behind the joint production of a computer-animated video entitled, Examining Fatal Shipyard Accidents: Hazards and Solutions. The two-volume series features 16 animated re-enactments of fatal accidents investigated by OSHA. Hazards highlighted include cranes, confined spaces, drowning, fall and electrical hazards, lockout/tagout failures, and improper use of equipment.

The scenarios depict factors contributing to the fatalities and prevention strategies. The videos (in both VHS and DVD formats) will be shipped during the week of March 21 to OSHA's regional offices for further distribution and outreach to shipyards. Consultation projects, state programs, and Alliance participants will receive additional copies soon.

For more information on the videos, contact Deborah Gabry at OSHA's Directorate of Science, Technology and Medicine at (202) 693-1983.