May 09, 2001

OSHA has online Expert Advisors can enable you to determine how many of the agencyÆs standards impact your facility as well as compliance guidance. Some of the standards covered by the online advisors include Asbestos, Confined Spaces, Fire Safety, Cadmium, Hazard Awareness, Lead in Construction, Lead in General Industry, Lockout/Tagout, Respiratory Protection, Safety and Health Program, $afety Pays, and Workers' Rights. 


After two men were crushed by unmanned trucks, the Victorian WorkCover Authority in Australia recently issued a warning to operators of heavy vehicles that can be heeded here in the US. In the first incident, a man died as a result of his injuries after he was caught between a shed and a car, which had been pushed forward by an idling truck. One week later, a truck driver died at a poultry processing plant after a truck rolled backwards and crushed him against a loading dock. He had driven the truck up to the loading dock just prior to the incident.

VWA chief executive, Bill Mountford, said "Without pre-empting any findings, there are a large number of measures that have to be considered to ensure the safety of those working around large trucks. "It goes without saying that the drivers and operators of large transport vehicles must be properly trained and that vehicles need to be well- maintained to ensure that no mechanical problems contribute to an incident," he says.

"Drivers should not get out of the truck until the parking and trailer brakes have been activated. And if they are leaving the truck for any length of time, the vehicle should be shut down. In addition, all those involved in any loading or unloading activities should wear high visibility safety vests, as recommended in previous coronial investigations," Mountford says.

The VWA chief has also warned against people trying to stop runaway vehicles. "There have been too many deaths and injuries as a result of trucks and tractors moving after people have gotten off them. In the past 12 months, there have been six such deaths." Peter Robinson, managing director of Transport Management Australia, which advises the Victorian Road Transport Association on OHS issues, says that although incidents involving unmanned trucks are not common, they have disastrous consequences when they occur.

He advises truck drivers not to leave their vehicles while the motor is running. "It's tempting to reverse your truck into a loading dock and think 'I'll just be a minute' and then race out without shutting the motor off. But truck drivers need to be better informed about the risks. "One of the problems with diesel is that you need to idle the vehicle before shutting it off, so the process is a bit more involved," Robinson says. "We're currently working on a mechanized safety system which we aim to present to the Coroner. It means that if a driver opens the truck door and the parking brake light is not on, then a warning alarm is sounded and after a few seconds a maxibrake is automatically applied. It's an inexpensive way to ensure that these sorts of incidents are avoided," he says.


A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reviews current scientific data on health effects related to occupational exposures to asphalt, describes further research needs in this area, and suggests measures to minimize worker exposures while studies continue. The new report, "Hazard Review: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-110, is part of NIOSH's ongoing work with diverse outside partners to explore the complex questions pertaining to job-related asphalt exposures and health effects, and to develop practical and effective exposure controls based on known data.

Current research findings support a NIOSH assessment from 1977 that exposure to asphalt fumes is associated with eye, nose, and throat irritation, according to the report. Recent studies also have found evidence of lower respiratory tract symptoms among workers exposed to asphalt fumes. Those data are being further analyzed to assess the relationship between symptoms and exposures.

The new report also discusses studies that associate asphalt exposure with potential long-term health effects, such as chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. The report reviews data from those studies that relate to potential long-term effects under different conditions of use, including exposures from paving, roofing, and asphalt-based paint formulations. Additional studies are needed to better characterize occupational exposures to asphalt fumes, vapors, and aerosols, and to further evaluate the risk of chronic disease, including lung cancer. In the meantime, NIOSH recommends that possible health effects from exposures to asphalt, asphalt fumes and vapors, and asphalt-based paints be minimized.. Exposures can be minimized, the report suggests, by adhering to NIOSH's current recommended exposure limit of 5 milligrams of asphalt per cubic meter of air over any 15-minute period, and by:

  • Preventing skin exposure.
  • Keeping the application temperature of heated asphalt as low as possible.
  • Using engineering controls and good work practices at all work sites to minimize worker exposure to asphalt fumes and asphalt- based paint aerosols.
  • Using appropriate respiratory protection for workers.

Copies of "Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-110, are available by calling 1-800-356- 4674.


OSHA has cited Complete Construction Company, Inc., of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a Shelton, Conn., water main installation site and has proposed $38,500 in penalties against the contractor.

The violations were discovered during an OSHA inspection initiated April 6, 2001, at trenches located on Cathy Drive near Great Oak Road in Shelton, said Clifford S. Weston, OSHA area director in Bridgeport. "OSHA found that workers were exposed to cave-in and fall hazards while working in or accessing inadequately protected trenches up to 16 feet deep," he said. "In addition, the competent person onsite, the one with knowledge and authority to spot and correct hazards, neither addressed these hazards nor removed workers from exposure to them."

"Of particular concern is that, after documenting employees working in an unsafe trench on April 6, the OSHA inspector observed employees in another unsafe trench upon returning to the jobsite four days later," said Weston.

Noting the increase in construction and excavation work prompted by warmer weather, Weston reminded Connecticut employers to ensure that excavations 5 or more feet in depth be properly protected against collapse: "Let's not kid ourselves, unprotected trenches can be lethal; their sidewalls can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," he said. "Forty-four American workers died and scores of others were injured in trench cave-ins in 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The best way to reduce the number of fatalities is to ensure that proper and effective collapse protection is in place and in use before employees enter an excavation."

Weston emphasized that excavation safety is a national emphasis program for OSHA. If OSHA compliance officers encounter an excavation in the course of their duties, they will stop and examine it. If hazardous conditions are spotted, an inspection can be opened on the spot with violations resulting in citations and fines.

Complete Construction Company, Inc. was cited for one alleged willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $35,000, for:

  • on two separate days, employees were working in trenches 5 to 6 feet deep and 16 feet deep, respectively, that were unprotected or inadequately protected against cave-ins;

Two alleged Serious violations, with $3,500 in penalties proposed, for employees exposed to falls of up to 16 feet while accessing a trench; where hazardous conditions were visibly obvious, the competent person onsite did not take precautions and corrective actions or remove workers from exposure to the hazards.

A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.


OSHA cited Dublin Construction Co. on April 26, for failure to protect workers from fall hazards, just three months after the company was cited for similar violations. During a March 28 inspection, OSHA observed workers without safety harnesses installing plastic sheeting near an unguarded roof edge more than 29 feet from the ground. The agency cited Dublin Construction for a willful violation -- one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act û and proposed a $63,000 penalty.

"Safety equipment was stored at the job site," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's Savannah area director, "but management officials wanted the sheeting installed quickly -- before rain could damage expensive drywall. And guardrails, another form of protection, had been removed from the roof edges so stucco could be applied to the side of the building." A willful citation was issued, according to Harrison, because "officials knowingly exposed employees to fall hazards, the same hazards we cited them for in January."

OSHA also issued a serious citation with a $5,600 proposed penalty for failing to conduct regular safety inspections of the job site and equipment. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. According to OSHA, falls are a leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry and the numbers have been on the rise in Georgia. "In our last fiscal year, from Oct. 1999 through Sept. 2000, we recorded eight fatal falls in the state's construction industry," said Harrison. "That number jumped to ten in just the first six months of this fiscal year."


OSHA has issued citations alleging six serious violations and two repeat violations to Future Foam Inc. in Middleton, Wis., with proposed penalties of $104,000. A safety and health inspection was initiated at the worksite on November 15, 2000, after workers were reportedly exposed to methylene chloride and TDI (toluene-2,4-diisocyanate) in excess of OSHA's permissible exposure limits.

The alleged repeat violations identified one employee overexposure to methylene chloride. The company was cited for employee overexposure to methylene chloride following an OSHA inspection in July 1999.

The alleged serious violations addressed employee overexposures to TDI, fall hazards, lack of specific worksite procedures for respiratory protection, insufficient engineering controls and lack of periodic monitoring of methylene chloride. The worksite has had seven previous OSHA inspections with a total of 17 serious violations. Additionally, Future Foam Inc., has been inspected 27 times since 1974 at worksites in Mississippi, Kansas, Utah, Iowa, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri.

OSHA defines a serious violation as a hazardous condition in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. The maximum penalty for a serious violation is $7,000. The agency defines a repeat violation as one in which the employer has been cited for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order. The maximum penalty for a repeat violation is $70,000.


In a new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reviews current scientific information on health effects associated with occupational exposure to carbonless copy paper, and recommends ways to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

According to available data, exposure to certain types of carbonless copy paper or its components has resulted, under some conditions, in mild to moderate symptoms of skin irritation and irritation of the mucosal membranes of the eyes and upper respiratory tract, NIOSH said in the report, "NIOSH Hazard Review: Carbonless Copy Paper."

In most cases, good industrial hygiene and work practices should be adequate to reduce or eliminate symptoms, NIOSH suggested. These include adequate ventilation, humidity, and temperature controls; proper housekeeping; minimal hand-to-mouth and hand-to-eye contact; and periodic cleansing of hands. These recommendations are similar to ones that have been made by other researchers, programs, and agencies in the U.S. and abroad, according to the report.

Data also indicate that exposure to carbonless copy paper or its components has been associated in rare cases with allergic contact dermatitis. NIOSH also noted two case reports of various reactions in three individuals, including shortness of breath and hives; those cases were reported more than 10 years ago, and there is no evidence, given a lack of similar reports in more recent literature, that current CCP exposures present a risk for these effects. Data are insufficient to evaluate claims of other adverse health effects, such as neurologic effects or reports of multiple chemical sensitivity, the report found. NIOSH also offered these recommendations:

NIOSH encourages carbonless copy paper manufacturers and their suppliers to follow professionally established "best practices" for product management, such as the American Chemistry Council's Product Stewardship Code of Management Practices. Manufacturers and suppliers also should consider enhancing their product guidance to reflect that published studies indicate that symptoms of irritation appear to increase with increasing exposure to CCP.

Carbonless copy paper manufacturers and their suppliers should consider how test procedures for assessing safety from skin contact can be modified to reflect exposures from high use of the paper. Current practices in product testing may not be sensitive enough to identify mild skin irritants.

The new report is the most comprehensive scientific document available on issues relating to health concerns from exposure to carbonless copy paper. It includes extensive information about the components of carbonless copy paper, production processes, published and unpublished scientific data, and historical recommendations for preventing or reducing exposure to carbonless copy paper.


OSHA cited Durango-Georgia Paper Co. on April 26, for the second time in eight months, and proposed penalties totaling $157,500, following a double amputation at the company's St. Marys facility. The agency received a complaint after an employee's arms were caught and amputated in an unguarded paper machine on Nov. 1. The worker remained trapped for more than 30 minutes before maintenance workers were able to free him. Last August, OSHA cited Durango after an employee's hand was crushed in a similar accident.

OSHA is proposing two willful violations with penalties of $140,000 for machine guarding and "lock-out/tag-out" hazards, according to Teresa Harrison, OSHA's Savannah area director. A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

"If the employer had heeded our concerns eight months ago regarding machine guarding and lockout/tagout, this tragic accident could have been avoided," said Harrison. "The company failed to lock out the machine to render it inoperable.

Additional penalties of $17,500 are being proposed for three serious safety violations: elevated platforms did not have guardrails to keep employees from falling; proper tools were not provided to employees to clean paper machine rollers; and employees were not trained in lockout/tagout procedures to make machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair.

The earlier citations were contested and are now before the Review Commission. Corporation Durango has approximately 3000 employees, with about 1200 at the St. Marys site.