OSHA Enforcement Went Up this Year

December 09, 2019
OSHA’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 final statistics show a significant increase in the number of inspections and a record amount of compliance assistance to further the mission of ensuring that employers provide workplaces free of hazards.
OSHA’s enforcement activities reflect the Department’s continued focus on worker safety. Federal OSHA conducted 33,401 inspections—more inspections than the previous three years –addressing violations related to trenching, falls, chemical exposure, silica and other hazards.
In FY19, OSHA provided a record 1,392,611 workers with training on safety and health requirements through the Agency’s various education programs, including the OSHA Training Institute Education Centers, Outreach Training Program and Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. OSHA’s compliance assistance programs have helped small businesses address safety and health hazards in their workplaces. In FY19, OSHA’s no-cost On-Site Consultation Program identified 137,885 workplace hazards, and protected 3.2 million workers from potential harm.
“OSHA’s efforts – rulemaking, enforcement, compliance assistance and training – are tools to accomplish our mission of safety and health for every worker,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “I am proud of the diligent, hard work of all OSHA personnel who contributed to a memorable year of protecting our nation’s workers.”
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Permanent Hair Dye and Straighteners May Increase Breast Cancer Risk
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health found that women who use permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t use these products. The study published online Dec. 4 in the International Journal of Cancer and suggests that breast cancer risk increased with more frequent use of these chemical hair products.
Using data from 46,709 women in the Sister Study, researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, found that women who regularly used permanent hair dye in the year prior to enrolling in the study were 9% more likely than women who didn’t use hair dye to develop breast cancer. Among African American women, using permanent dyes every five to eight weeks or more was associated with a 60% increased risk of breast cancer as compared with an 8% increased risk for white women. The research team found little to no increase in breast cancer risk for semi-permanent or temporary dye use.
"Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent," said corresponding author Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group. "In our study, we see a higher breast cancer risk associated with hair dye use, and the effect is stronger in African American women, particularly those who are frequent users."
An intriguing finding was the association between the use of chemical hair straighteners and breast cancer. Dr. White and colleagues found that women who used hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks were about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer. While the association between straightener use and breast cancer was similar in African American and white women, straightener use was much more common among African American women.
Co-author Dale Sandler, Ph.D., chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch, cautioned that although there is some prior evidence to support the association with chemical straighteners, these results need to be replicated in other studies.
When asked if women should stop dyeing or straightening their hair, Sandler said, "We are exposed to many things that could potentially contribute to breast cancer, and it is unlikely that any single factor explains a woman’s risk. While it is too early to make a firm recommendation, avoiding these chemicals might be one more thing women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer."
Florida Roofing Contractor Cited for Exposing Employees to Fall Hazards and Eye Injuries
OSHA cited Garabar Inc. – based in Lake Worth, Florida – for exposing employees to safety hazards at a worksite in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. The roofing contractor faces $64,974 in penalties.
OSHA cited the contractor for exposing employees to fall hazards by allowing them to make repairs to a roof without fall protection. OSHA also cited Garabar Inc. for allowing employees to use an extension ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet beyond a landing surface; placing the ladder in front of a driveway without securing or barricading the base as required; and allowing employees to operate a circular saw without eye protection. OSHA conducted the inspection in conjunction with the agency's Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction.
"Falls continue to be a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction," said OSHA Area Office Director Condell Eastmond, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards, and ensure all safety and personal protective equipment are correctly used."
OSHA's Protecting Roofing Workers booklet explains fall protection requirements, how to set up personal fall arrest and fall restraint systems, and properly secure ladders.
Railcar Service Company Fined After Investigation of Employee Fatality at Pennsylvania Worksite
OSHA has cited Dana Railcare – based in Wilmington, Delaware – for confined space hazards after an employee fatality in Pittston, Pennsylvania. The railcar service provider faces $551,226 in proposed penalties. 
An employee asphyxiated in May 2019, while servicing a rail car containing crude oil sludge. OSHA cited the company for four willful and three serious violations for failing to protect employees from the hazards of entering permit-required confined spaces, and inadequate respiratory protection procedures. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had followed proper safety procedures for entering and cleaning railcars," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "Employers that fail to comply with the law will continue to see full and fair enforcement."
"Companies are legally required to test and monitor confined spaces for oxygen content before and during entry to confined spaces," said OSHA Wilkes-Barre Area Director Mark Stelmack.
OSHA offers several resources on Confined Spaces, including an Atmospheric Testing in Confined Spaces fact sheet, and a Permit-Required Confined Spaces booklet.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Area Director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Roofing Contractor Cited for Continually Exposing Employees to Fall Hazards at Multiple Jobsites
OSHA has again cited Chanell Roofing and Home Improvement LLC – based in Cleveland, Ohio – for exposing employees to fall hazards. The company faces penalties totaling $200,451 for violations of OSHA’s fall protection standards at two separate jobsites in Avon, Ohio.
OSHA inspectors cited the company for two willful violations for failing to install and require the use of a guardrail, safety net, or personal fall arrest system while employees worked on residential roofs. OSHA also cited Chanell Roofing and Home Improvement LLC for failing to train employees on fall protection hazards and the proper use of a ladder, develop a safety and health program, and require head protection. Since 2015, OSHA has cited the company four times for fall protection violations.
“Employers must follow the law, and ensure that workers wear fall protection equipment, and are trained on recognizing and avoiding fall hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Kimberly Nelson, in Toledo, Ohio.
OSHA’s Fall Protection webpage offers compliance assistance resources on how to prevent falls from ladders, scaffolds, and roofs.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Missouri Roofing Contractor Cited for Exposing Employees to Fall Hazards at Three Job Sites
OSHA has cited Martin Davila – operating as Davila Construction – for exposing employees to fall hazards at three separate Missouri job sites in May, June, and August 2019. The residential roofing company faces $205,098 in proposed penalties.
OSHA inspectors issued safety violations at job sites in Wentzville, Grover, and St. Louis. Inspectors cited Davila Construction for failing to provide adequate fall protection for employees working at heights; train employees on fall safety hazards and procedures, and the safe use of ladders; and provide personal protective equipment to employees using pneumatic nail guns. OSHA also alleges the company violated electrical safety standards, and allowed the operation of an internal combustion engines in close proximity to a five-gallon gas can. OSHA also cited Davila for failing to develop and maintain a safety program, a violation for which OSHA cited the company in 2014.
"Workplace safety and health standards are legal requirements adopted to protect workers from hazards on the job," said OSHA St. Louis Area Director Bill McDonald. "Disregarding required OSHA safety procedures places workers at risk for serious and fatal injuries."
Martin Davila has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Alabama Utilities Contractor Cited for Cave-in Hazards After Employee Injury
OSHA has cited Ballard Construction Co. Inc. – a sewer and water utilities contractor based in Kellyton, Alabama – for exposing employees to excavation hazards after a worker was injured and hospitalized following a trench collapse. The contractor faces $34,476 in penalties.
The employee was installing gravity sewer systems for residential home lots in Opelika, Alabama, when the collapse occurred. OSHA cited the company for allowing employees to work in an excavation that was improperly sloped; and failing to install an adequate protective system, train employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe work environments, and provide a means of safe egress while working in a trench.
“Cave-in protection is required for trenches or excavations that are 5 feet deep or greater,” said OSHA Mobile Area Director Jose Gonzalez. “Employers are legally obligated to slope, shore or shield trench walls to prevent injuries such as this from occurring.”
OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses. OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including a trenching operations QuickCard and a “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster.
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