March 28, 2002

OSHA has issued a compliance directive for enforcing the new steel erection standard, which became effective January 18, 2002.

The new guidance assists compliance officers in enforcing the new standard. The directive contains a compliance officer guide with inspection tips, definitions with photos, and a Question and Answer chapter that clarifies certain provisions of the standard.

The directive addresses the standard's key provisions and the "phase-in" of component requirements. OSHA will not apply the component requirements of the new standard to projects where the building permit was obtained before January 18, 2001 or when the steel erection work began on or before September 16, 2001. However, all other requirements will apply.

A draft of the directive was posted on OSHA's web site in November 2001 to provide the public an opportunity to submit informal suggestions. It was finalized after OSHA analyzed more than 400 responses from approximately 70 stakeholders.


Results of a new survey of employers will help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and others develop new recommendations for the use of respirators in workplaces and design new research projects to improve the effectiveness of respirators.

NIOSH funded and helped design the voluntary survey with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS administered the survey, tabulated the responses, and reported the results.

The findings of the survey will help NIOSH and others better understand the patterns of respirator use in workplaces. For example, the survey will provide new data on how often respirators are used voluntarily, how often they are required, the types of respirators used, the types of agents that respirators are intended to protect against, the existence and features of written workplace programs on respirator use, and the usefulness of respirator labels and instructions.

The survey covered U.S. companies in the private sector that use respirators as a component of ongoing occupational safety and health programs. Respondents included employers from manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, health care, and services.

The findings reported by BLS included the following estimates about private industry establishments that require the use of respirators:

  • In the 12 months prior to the survey, respirators were used by 3.3 million employees in 281,800 business establishments, which represent 3.1 percent of all employees and 4.5 percent of all business establishments in the U.S.
  • Dust masks were the most commonly used respirator, comprising 71 percent of all respirators used.
  • Paint vapors and dust were the most common agents that air-purifying respirators were worn to protect against, while paint vapors and solvents were the most common agents air-supplied respirators were worn to protect against.
  • In 59 percent of establishments, employees were trained to understand the use and limitations of the respirators they wear, survey respondents reported.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets were used by 57 percent of the establishments to determine the appropriate type of respirator.

By providing current data on respirator use, the survey will help NIOSH and others recommend changes for more effective administration of respirator programs, including recommendations on educational and informational initiatives. The results also will help NIOSH identify methods to modify its respirator certification program if appropriate, and areas where further research related to certification may be needed.

NIOSH conducts research to improve respirator performance and use. Through a longstanding testing and evaluation program, NIOSH certifies respirators used to protect workers as part of an employer's overall occupational safety and health program. Under new certification rules that build on the established program, NIOSH also will approve respirators for use by emergency responders for chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological exposures.


DOT has established safety requirements for Mexican motor carriers operating to and from the United States and requires that all motor carrier safety inspectors, auditors, and investigators be certified.

Mexican carriers applying to operate anywhere in the United States will be required to have a distinctive USDOT number, have their vehicles pass a safety inspection, and undergo intensified safety monitoring during an 18-month provisional period, and provide supplemental safety certifications as part of the application process. Mexican commercial vehicles will be permitted to enter the United States only at commercial border crossings and only when a certified motor carrier safety inspector is on duty.

The regulations also will require Mexican carriers operating in the United States to have a drug and alcohol-testing program, a system of compliance with U.S. federal hours-of-service requirements, adequate data and safety management systems, and valid insurance with a U.S. registered insurance company. The carrier's ability to meet these requirements will be verified by a safety audit conducted by qualified U.S. inspectors prior to receiving provisional authority to operate to and from the U.S.

At least half of these safety audits, which are to be conducted by qualified inspectors, must take place in Mexico. In addition to safety audits, all Mexican carriers granted provisional operating authority will undergo full safety compliance reviews during the 18-month provisional period.

FMCSA intends to provide Mexican carriers educational and technical assistance before the border opens and as they apply for operating authority.

The rules include requirements that meet terms in the Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 18, 2001. They comprise a final rule, two interim final rules and two proposed rules by the Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA plans to publish similar rules later this year for all new entrant carriers who seek motor carrier authority to operate in the United States.

In companion documents, the Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed rules and procedures that manufacturers would be required to follow to retrofit vehicles with certification labels, complementing FMCSA's proposal that all trucks and buses operating in the United States carry labels certifying that they meet U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards at the time of manufacture.

These rulemakings are among the actions that the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking to prepare for opening the border for Mexican truck and bus operations, which is expected by mid-year.


The regulatory documents are in the USDOT docket (Docket Numbers FMCSA-98-3297, FMCSA-98-3298, FMCSA-98-3299, FMCSA-2001-11060, FMCSA-01-10886, NHTSA-02-11592, NHTSA-02-11593, and NHTSA-02-11594). To be considered, written comments on the interim rulemakings and proposals should be sent to the USDOT docket facility before the date indicated in each document. Comments should be sent to the attention of the specific document number, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC. Comments also may be submitted electronically at this site.


Many emergency response workers do not believe that they are adequately prepared to respond to a major disaster such as the World Trade Center attack or the anthrax scare, according to a new report of worker input funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The report shows a need for research, training and other strategic approaches to help protect emergency responders in terrorist attacks. The recommendations are based on the lessons learned from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September and from the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The report, released by RAND, summarizes discussions from a two-day NIOSH-sponsored workshop held in December 2001 in New York City. The workshop convened more than 150 participants, including fire fighters, fire fighting special operations, emergency medical services, law enforcement, construction and other trade services, and health and safety professionals, including state and federal agencies.

The report also highlights the need for a research agenda that outlines comprehensive personal protective technology, and improved federal education and training programs and other activities pertaining to the health and safety of emergency responders in rescue, recovery, and restoration efforts. In combination with other information such as injury and exposure data, NIOSH will use the report in working with partner organizations to plan new research on emergency responder safety and personal protective technologies, identify priority needs for guidelines, develop guidelines in forms that will be most useful, and disseminate guidelines broadly.

According to the recommendations included in the report, important areas for research and planning include:

Development of guidelines for selection and use of appropriate personal protective equipment in long-duration disaster response and bio-terrorism response.

Research and planning to effectively outfit all responders at sites of large-scale incidents with appropriate personal protective equipment, and to facilitate standardization and inter-operability of protective equipment among emergency responder organizations.

Development of guidelines and procedures to enforce the use of personal protective equipment at large-scale disaster sites, and to establish effective site management as early as possible in disaster response.

Identifying ways to provide useful, real-time safety and health information to responders at incident sites, and to ensure appropriate training on the use of personal protective equipment.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced during the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, Ga., a campaign aimed at clinicians to prevent antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings.

The campaign, entitled "Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance," centers around four key strategies for preventing antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings: 1) preventing infection, 2) diagnosing and treating infection effectively, 3) using antimicrobials wisely, and 4) preventing transmission of drug-resistant pathogens. Within these strategies are 12 specific action steps derived from evidenced-based guidelines and recommendations already developed by CDC and other organizations that clinicians can take now to prevent antimicrobial resistance in hospitalized adults. In the future, CDC will announce similar action steps for clinicians who care for dialysis patients, emergency room patients, obstetrical patients, critical care patients, patients in long-term care facilities, and pediatric patients.

"Clinicians are always on the go and are bombarded with lots of information about preventing infections. CDC is trying to simplify things by presenting the best practices in simple terms that easily can be recalled and followed by fronting clinicians to protect patients and prevent antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of CDC's program to promote healthcare quality.

The action steps for clinicians who provide care for hospitalized adults include:

Action Step 1: Vaccinate

  • Get influenza vaccine
  • Give influenza / S. pneumonia vaccine to at-risk patients before discharge

Action Step 2: Get the catheters out

  • Use catheters only when essential
  • Remove catheters when no longer essential

Action Step 3: Target the pathogen

  • Culture the patient
  • Target empiric therapy to likely pathogens
  • Target definitive therapy to known pathogens

Action Step 4: Access the experts

  • Consult infectious diseases experts for patients with serious infections

Action Step 5: Practice antimicrobial control

  • Engage in local antimicrobial control efforts

Action Step 6: Use local data

  • Know your antibiogram

Action Step 7: Treat infection, not contamination

Action Step 8: Treat infection, not colonization

Action Step 9: Know when to say "no" to vanco(mycin)

Action Step 10: Stop antimicrobial treatment

  • When infection is treated or unlikely

Action Step 11: Isolate the pathogen

  • Use standard infection control precautions
  • Contain infectious body fluids (airborne/droplet/contact precautions)
  • When in doubt, consult infection control experts

Action Step 12: Break the chain of contagion

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Keep your hands clean
  • Set an example!

CDC is partnering with professional medical organizations including the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Society for Microbiology, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, national medical centers, and other healthcare institutions to distribute, implement, and evaluate campaign materials. Some of the materials being developed include a slide set featuring the 12 action steps and the evidence to support them, posters, brochures, as well as a pocket-size clinician reminder card listing the 12 action steps. The campaign also features a website where clinicians may access the 12 action steps as well as information to share with their patients.

Antimicrobial resistant infections in healthcare settings are a major threat to patient safety. Each year in the United States an estimated 2 million hospitalized people acquire infections that result in more 90,000 deaths. More than half of these infections are caused by bacteria that are resistant to at least one of the antimicrobial commonly used to treat those infections, according to CDC. "We are confident that this campaign will help prevent the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings and make healthcare in the United States even safer than it is today," Dr. Gerberding said.


A Florida company's failure to protect workers from electrocution hazards contributed to two fatalities and may cost the company $50,250 in proposed penalties.

On Sept. 19, 2001, two employees of South Florida Yachts, Inc. were electrocuted when a 35-foot high traveling hoist they were using to remove a boat from a storage area came in contact with a 30- foot high, 7,500 volt overhead powerline.

Following an inspection of the accident, OSHA cited South Florida Yachts for one willful violation of safety standards and proposed a penalty totaling $49,000 for failing to alert workers to potential hazards and instruct them about protective measures needed to perform their jobs safely.

"This employer knew power lines were obstructing the storage area; was aware of the height of the traveling hoist, and was familiar with labeling on the equipment warning against getting close to electrical hazards," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director. "Yet, company officials took no action to remove the powerlines or to alert workers to the hazard."

In 1999, in response to the high rate of construction accidents in Florida, OSHA launched the CARE (Construction Accident Reduction Emphasis) program and established special local emphasis programs -- falls and electrical -- to address the high accident rate attributable to these two hazards.

In fiscal year 2000, there were 37 electrical accidents in the southeast of which 20, or 54 percent, involved overhead powerlines. In 2001, the number of shocks or electrocutions had dropped to 30 but powerline-related accidents remained at 20, or 67 percent of the total. So far this fiscal year, seven of the 13 electrical accidents, a total of 54 percent, resulted from contact with powerlines.

"Far too many Florida workers are electrocuted on the job," said Santiago. "In this case, although company officials knew the powerlines were a potential threat, they took no remedial action."

One serious citation in connection with the inspection drew a fine of $1,250 for absence of a deflecting device or bumper on the traveling hoist to prevent a crushing accident.

South Florida Yachts employs 28 workers in boat sales, service and storage. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Failure to protect workers against a variety of hazards ranging from crushing and falls to burns and electrocution has resulted in $76,325 in proposed fines against a Clinton, Mass., cable manufacturer.

OSHA has cited Rockbestos-Suprenant Cable Corp. for 27 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its plant following an OSHA inspection prompted by an employee complaint.

According to Ronald E. Morin, OSHA area director for central and western Massachusetts, the alleged violations encompass such hazards as overloaded hoists; an unsecured personnel platform; unguarded or inadequately guarded work platforms; numerous electrical hazards; and numerous instances of unguarded or inadequately guarded moving machine parts.

Additional serious citations concern lack of personal protective equipment; defective fork lift trucks left in service; absent or inadequate eyewash stations where required; a defective ladder left in service; defective lifting slings; and slipping hazards from oil and water accumulating on work floors. The company was also cited for four alleged other-than-serious violations for unlabeled slings, an inoperative interlock and unsecured electrical outlets.

"These citations address a cross-section of basic safety concerns for a manufacturing environment," said Morin. "Left uncorrected, these cited conditions expose employees to such potential injuries as falls, crushing, electrocution, burns, lacerations and being caught by or in moving machinery."

OSHA defines a serious violation is 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. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Rockbestos-Suprenant Cable Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. An informal conference has been scheduled for March 26.