OSHA Increases Number of Inspections

February 06, 2006

OSHA announced that the Agency is continuing to maintain its high level of annual inspection activity. For FY2005, OSHA announced that the agency conducted 38,714 total inspections, exceeding its goal of 37,700. From 2001 to 2005, the total number of inspections has increased 7.6%. áProgrammed inspection, which focus on industries with the highest lost-time injury rates have increased 19.3%. Recordable injuries and lost workdays due to injuries also decreased over the same period. 



NIOSH Researchers Develop Interactive Web Page for Calculating Skin Permeation

The Web page offers an interactive calculator that could be used by those wishing to obtain estimates of the skin permeability coefficient for a chemical of interest. In addition, the calculator contains a well-known data base of measured permeability coefficients. The user can easily compare the measured permeability of a specified chemical with the estimations from the three models.
The product represents the dissemination of research performed by the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Dermal Exposure Research Program to a larger audience. 



Decontaminating PPE is Subject of New Document from AIHA

Pengfei Gao, of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, is the lead author of Guidelines for the Decontamination of Chemical Protective Clothing and Equipment, recently published by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Dr. Gao is a member of AIHA's Protective Clothing and Equipment Committee. The guidelines offer methodologies for decontaminating chemical protective clothing (CPC) and equipment, including the most current practices for regulatory compliance, decontamination work plans, waste management, hazard and risk assessments, CPC reuse, quality assurance, and training. Dr. Gao's participation provided a means for NIOSH's research and expertise on protective clothing and equipment to be incorporated into the guidelines. The views and policies expressed in the guidelines do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of NIOSH. 



OSHA Cites Titan Electric for Fatal Fall at Alabama Work Site

OSHA cited Titan Electric following the investigation of an August 2005 fatal accident at Duck Samford Park, Auburn, Ala. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $52,750.

"Falls are a leading cause of worker fatalities in the Southeast, and this tragic accident could have been prevented if the worker had been wearing fall protection equipment," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Mobile area director.

The worker was killed when he fell 40 feet from a concrete pole where he was adjusting electrical lights. OSHA's investigation determined that safety equipment was available on site but was not being used.

OSHA issued one willful citation to the company, with a proposed penalty of $49,000, for failing to require an employee to wear fall protection equipment. The agency issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.

The company also received six serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $3,750, for hazards including failure to place ladders on stable, level surfaces; ensure that the tops of ladders were supported; provide employees with fall protection training, and properly store acetylene gas cylinders to prevent unexpected flow of highly flammable liquid acetone. Serious citations are issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.



OSHA Renews Alliance with IRS and Nebraska Agencies

An alliance formed two years ago to provide information and resources specifically to small businesses in Nebraska was renewed recently between OSHA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Nebraska Department of Revenue, and the Nebraska Department of Labor's Workforce Development Office. Nebraska employers will receive information, training resources, and guidance about workplace safety and health requirements and their tax obligations.

"This alliance has gained national recognition for its unique approach to compliance assistance and outreach through the combined efforts of federal and state agencies," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA Regional Administrator in Kansas City. It provides one-stop shopping for employers by making safety, health, and tax obligation information all available in one location."

Adkins explained that this is the first such alliance nationwide with an IRS office and the only joint effort, to date, with a State Department of Revenue. Maximizing the benefits of interagency cooperation gives the alliance the advantage to seize the opportunities available to prevent employee exposure to safety and health hazards and to develop strategies that will reduce and ultimately eliminate fatalities among Nebraska workers.

The alliance will continue to promote the national dialogue on workplace safety and health while educating employers about services and products available to assist with voluntary compliance of federal and state tax obligations.

As with the first alliance, this second, two-year agreement has established education and communication goals that include the development of training and education programs, the dissemination of informational materials, and promotional efforts to encourage employer participation in OSHA's voluntary cooperative programs.

Additional information about the alliance may be obtained by contacting the OSHA area office in Omaha at 402-221-3182.



BlueLinx Corporation in Sioux Falls Recognized by OSHA for Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health

OSHA recognized BlueLinx Corporation in Sioux Falls, S.D., for exemplary achievement in their workplace safety and health program at a ceremony Jan. 25.

The building products warehousing and distribution facility was designated a VPP "Star" site, the highest level of recognition that OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) offer, during a ceremony at the Ramada Inn and Suites in Sioux Falls. A VPP Star site maintains employee injury and illness rates below the national average for their industry and meets all the safety and health program elements for the VPP, which far exceed regular OSHA standards. BlueLinx is the only site in Sioux Falls and one of only five sites in South Dakota to receive this prestigious recognition.

"This award recognizes the employees of BlueLinx for their efforts to develop, implement and maintain a sustained level of high performance in their employee safety and health program," said Greg Baxter, OSHA regional administrator in Denver. "Receiving the VPP Star award is a tremendous accomplishment. It illustrates this worksite's commitment to continual improvement and their dedication to excellence."

Brad Baptiste, OSHA's regional VPP manager in Denver, presented the award to plant representatives at the ceremony.

According to Baptiste, the BlueLinx safety and health program has many aspects considered "best practices." "Fall hazards are prevalent in this industry; however, the employees at BlueLinx worked together to locate and obtain equipment that essentially eliminates fall hazards from their daily operations," Baptiste said.


OSHA Fines Staten Island Contractor $133,000 for Cave-In Hazards

A Staten Island contractor's repeated failure to protect workers against cave-in hazards has resulted in $133,000 in proposed OSHA fines. Able Plumbing Inc. was cited for a total of four alleged willful and repeat violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection of a sewer line installation at 822 Lamont Ave. on Staten Island.

OSHA's inspection found company employees working in a seven-foot-deep trench that lacked any protection against a collapse of its sidewalls. This is the sixth time since 1998 that Able Plumbing has been cited for failing to provide cave-in protection.

"Trenches can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's Avenel, N.J., area director. "This employer knew collapse protection was required and did not provide it, even though a protective trench box was present on the job site."

As a result, OSHA issued one willful citation for the lack of collapse protection. The citation carries a proposed fine of $70,000, the maximum allowed under law. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Three repeat citations, accounting for $63,000 of the total penalties, were issued for failing to: provide a ladder, stairway or other safe means of exit from the trench; ensure that sidewalks, pavement and adjacent structures were not undermined by the trench; and keep excavated materials at least two feet from the trench's edge.

Repeat citations are issued when an employer has previously been cited for similar hazards and those citations have become final. OSHA cited Able Plumbing for similar hazards in November 2004, February 2004 and April 2003.



NIOSH to Hold Workshop on Economics at Upcoming Ergonomics Meeting

á  This two-hour post-conference workshop will provide an overview of various economic models available for estimating the costs and benefits associated with implementation of interventions to reduce risks of job-related musculoskeletal disorders. Specific information on data required to conduct an economic analysis and outputs available for decision making will be shared. The NIOSH presenters are Steve Hudock, Tapas Ray and Tom Waters. The workshop is free for those attending the conference. 



OSHA Renews Alliance with American Shipbuilding Association

OSHA and the American Shipbuilding Association (ASA) have renewed their Alliance that will continue to help protect workers by minimizing exposure to shipyard safety and health hazards.

"Continuing our work with ASA is invaluable in targeting one of the high-hazard industries in which we're focusing our safety and health resources," said Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA. "We look forward to furthering our joint efforts to help reduce injuries and illnesses in shipyards."

Added John Casey, ASA Chairman of the Board of Directors: "It is my distinct honor to renew the Alliance Agreement with OSHA on behalf of the membership of our Association. This renewal symbolizes the commitment of each of our member shipyards to work in concert with OSHA in order to ensure that the workplace environment is as safe as possible for all of our shipyard workers, who represent our industry's greatest asset."

 OSHA and ASA are working together to increase access for shipyard employees to safety and health information and outreach programs.

OSHA and ASA are distributing the information through print and electronic media, including OSHA's and ASA's Web sites.  The tool describes common hazards and possible solutions for tasks performed during ship repair, shipbuilding, shipbreaking and barge cleaning processes. 

ASA is the national trade association that represents America's major shipbuilders. Collectively, ASA member shipyards employ more than 90 percent of all workers engaged in ship construction in the United States.


OSHA, Washington Group International Renew Alliance

An Alliance between OSHA and Washington Group International, Inc., was renewed to further create opportunities for continued achievement in advancing workplace safety and health. 

"Working with the Washington Group for the past three years has enabled us to expand training and target hazards in the engineering and construction industry," said Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. "Renewing our Alliance provides an even stronger opportunity to reach out to this industry and improve workplace safety even more."

"When Washington Group signed the first Alliance with OSHA, our goal was to help make a difference in the overall practice of safety in the engineering and construction industry," said Stephen G. Hanks, the company's president and chief executive officer. "Three years later, we are very happy with the results and enthusiastically sign this second renewal."

The renewal calls for continued focus on the areas of cranes and rigging, hearing protection and ergonomics within the engineering and construction industry. The Alliance will target continuing education, training, outreach and communication efforts.

Since the Alliance was signed in 2002, OSHA and the Washington Group have been working together to provide training and education to construction industry employees, OSHA staff members, and educators across the country. For example, the Washington Group assisted OSHA's Boise, Idaho area office in arranging the OSHA Training Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry train-the-trainer program for Idaho educators. In addition, the Washington Group has presented their Safety Qualified Supervisor Training to employers, employees, and OSHA personnel from the National Office in Washington, as well as from the Denver and Seattle regions.

OSHA also participated in a Washington Group-hosted Safety Fest that addressed a number of safety and health issues including crane safety, accident investigation techniques, equipment safety programs, hearing conservation, and rigging safety. Washington Group representatives will continue to participate in the Alliance Program Construction Roundtable that includes discussions on how the construction-related national Alliances could work together to address issues including fall protection, and design for safety.


Seventy-nine Workers Died on the Job in 2005 in Washington State

Seventy-nine workers died on the job in Washington in 2005, the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) said. That's down from 93 the year before. The most common cause of death was motor vehicle accidents, followed by cases in which the victim was struck by an object, fell from elevation, or suffered crushing injuries.
"While we are heartened that there were fewer workplace fatalities last year, even one death is too many," said Gary Weeks, director of L&I, which oversees workplace safety and health. "I firmly believe that most businesses want to do the right thing and prevent injuries and deaths, and we will continue to work with them as we balance effective education and outreach with enforcement, when it's necessary."



Fire Response Preparedness for Underground Mines

DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-105 deals with the preparedness of miners to respond to underground fires. It is intended to aid the mining industry in understanding the various roles of emergency responders and the training techniques used to increase their skill levels. 



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