. It also is to provide enforcement guidance to the area and regional offices relative to the agency’s training standards. This position applies to all of the agency’s agriculture, construction, general industry, and maritime training requirements.
Many OSHA standards require that employees receive training so that work will be performed in a safe and healthful manner. Some of these standards require “training” or “instruction,” others require “adequate” or “effective” training or instruction, and still others require training “in a manner” or “in language” that is understandable to employees. It is the OSHA’s position that, regardless of the precise regulatory language, the terms “train” and “instruct,” as well as other synonyms, mean to present information in a manner that employees receiving it are capable of understanding. This follows from both the purpose of the standards - providing employees with information that will allow work to be performed in a safe and healthful manner that complies with OSHA requirements - and the basic definitions of training and instruction.
Emergency Responders Get Help from NOAA
A new online tool for first responders to hazardous chemical accidents was released by the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration.
Over the past two decades, the CAMEO suite has brought first responders from an era in which they gleaned emergency response information from maps and reference books spread out on the hoods of their trucks to a time when up-to-date, comprehensive information on chemical plumes, toxicity risks and susceptibility of chemical mixtures to burn or explode can be displayed with a few strokes on a computer keyboard.
“With CAMEO Chemicals, we’ve responded to user requests to improve access and ease of use of this vital information. While the Web site is newly operational, it already has been placed in service with a major chemical release on the Mississippi River and a dangerous train derailment in New York.”
CAMEO Chemicals is an online, easy-to-use version of the most popular components of CAMEO, the chemical database, and the reactivity prediction tool. Key features include:
- Extensive Chemical Database: CAMEO Chemicals uses the same chemical database as CAMEO, which contains response recommendations for more than 6,000 chemicals. The database also contains more than 100,000 chemical synonyms and identification numbers, which aid emergency responders in identifying unknown substances during an incident.
- Critical Response Information: The revised search engine and new ranking order for search results makes finding chemicals easier. Data sheets on each chemical provide physical properties, health hazards, information about air and water hazards, and recommendations for firefighting, first aid and spill response.
- Chemical Reactivity: This tool predicts what hazards could arise if chemicals were to mix.
- The Web site is maintained by the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, a program of the NOAA Ocean Service.
OSHA Issues Multiple Safety Citations against Two Companies for Blast that Took Three Lives
OSHA has proposed $56,000 in fines against industrial gear manufacturer Rexnord Industries and $16,800 against J.M. Brennan Inc., both based in Milwaukee, for alleged serious violations of federal workplace safety standards following a gas explosion last year that claimed three lives.
A large explosion and fire occurred Dec. 6, 2006, at the Rexnord plant at 3001 W. Canal St. in Milwaukee during an operational test of a back-up propane gas system. An underground leak allowed gas to escape and ignite. OSHA’s investigation resulted in eight serious violations of safety standards issued to Rexnord pertaining to employee and emergency training and response, failing to protect underground liquid propane piping from corrosion, and failure to conduct a site analysis to identify hazardous conditions, and minimize employee exposure to explosion hazards.
OSHA also issued three serious violations to J.M. Brennan Inc. for its improper installation of underground liquid propane piping at the facility, as well as training and emergency response deficiencies.
“It is impossible to overstate the necessity for caution and adherence to safety regulations in dealing with volatile gas,” said OSHA’s Area Director George Yoksas in Milwaukee.
Fall Hazards at Construction Site Prompt Nearly $80,000 in OSHA Fines
A South Bend, Ind.-based steel erection contractor’s failure to provide fall protection for its employees at a Pembroke, N.H., jobsite has resulted in $79,500 in proposed fines from OSHA.
National Store Fixtures Division of United Fixtures was cited for alleged willful and serious safety hazards following an OSHA inspection begun Nov. 22, 2006, after OSHA was informed about fall hazards at the site located on Route 106. OSHA found employees working without fall protection at heights greater than 15 feet while installing steel walls on the side of a steel frame storage building.
OSHA issued one willful citation, carrying the maximum proposed fine of $70,000, for the lack of fall protection.
“This employer knew fall protection was required for these employees yet did not require them to use it, even though falls are the number one killer in construction work,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s area director in New Hampshire. “Effective fall protection is absolutely essential for safeguarding employees against death or crippling injuries.”
The inspection also determined that the employees lacked a ladder to provide safe access to their work area and were not provided fall protection training that would have allowed them to identify fall hazards and protective measures. In addition, employees working beneath the steel erection activity did not wear head protection.
These conditions resulted in the issuance of three serious citations, with $9,500 in proposed fines.
Contractor Faces Maximum Allowed Fine of $70,000 from OSHA for Cave-In Hazard
A Portsmouth, R.I., contractor with a history of trenching safety violations faces $70,000 in proposed fines – the maximum allowed – from OSHA for an unguarded trench at a Newport, R.I., worksite.
An OSHA inspection of a water main installation project found an East Coast Construction employee working in a straight-walled, six-foot deep trench that lacked any protection against a cave-in of its sidewalls.
“All excavations five feet or deeper must be protected against collapse, a requirement this employer knows well, having been cited three times previously for lack of cave-in protection” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director in Rhode Island. “This safeguard is essential since the sidewalls of a trench can collapse and bury workers within seconds. There’s no real margin of error and no good excuse for allowing an employee to work in an unprotected trench.”
As a result, East Coast Construction was cited for one alleged willful violation of safety standards. OSHA has proposed the maximum allowed fine since the company was cited by OSHA in 2005 and 2006 for similar hazards at worksites in Portsmouth, R.I.
Excavation safety is a top priority for OSHA and the agency’s inspectors will stop and open an inspection on the spot if they observe an apparently unprotected trench.
OSHA Fines Deffenbaugh Industries Inc. in Omaha, Neb., $125,000 Following a Fatality
OSHA has cited Deffenbaugh Industries Inc. of Omaha for two alleged willful violations and proposed penalties totaling $125,000 following an employee fatality in November 2006.
A Deffenbaugh employee sustained fatal injuries when a six-yard refuse collection container swung free from the back of a collection truck, crushing the employee between the truck and the container.
“Deffenbaugh Industries Inc. failed to protect its employees from known hazards which contributed to the death of an employee engaged in refuse collection,” said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “The citations and penalties OSHA is announcing will ensure that this employer takes responsibility to correct safety and health hazards. All employers should evaluate their workplaces to ensure employees are operating equipment safely.”
The willful citations allege that the employer failed to maintain trunnion safety latches on a mobile refuse collection vehicle and to maintain a safety latch on container lifting hooks.
FDA Clears First Respirators for Use in Public Health Medical Emergencies
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared for marketing the first respirators that can help reduce the user’s exposure to airborne germs during a public health medical emergency, such as an influenza pandemic.
These two filtering facepiece respirators, manufactured by St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M Company (and called the 3M Respirator 8612F and 8670F), will be available to the general public without a prescription.
The devices are also certified as N95 filtering facepiece respirators by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH certifies respirators for use in occupational settings in accordance with an appropriate respiratory protection program.
An N95 filtering facepiece respirator is a type of face mask that fits tightly over the nose and mouth. It is made of fibrous material that is designed to filter out at least 95 percent of very small airborne particles. The filter and a proper fit determine the effectiveness of the product.
“While the exact nature and concentration of the biological agent or germ may not be known in a public health medical emergency, we believe that minimizing exposure will help reduce risk,” said Daniel Schultz, M.D., director, FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “These respirators are only one part of a combination of approaches that can be used to help reduce the spread of infection between individuals during such events.”
Many companies make N95 respirators for workplaces, including health care settings. However, the 3M respirators are the first devices to receive FDA clearance for use by the public during public health medical emergencies to reduce exposure to airborne germs.
Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other occupational health regulations, respirators used in the workplace must be individually selected for each worker and tested to ensure a proper fit. This kind of fit testing is not generally employed outside the workplace now and would probably not be feasible during a public health medical emergency.
FDA is requiring those who want to market respirators for use during public health medical emergencies to assure that they are certified by NIOSH to provide adequate filtration without hampering people’s ability to breathe. In addition, companies must conduct fit assessment testing, conduct biocompatibility testing to reduce the chance for allergic skin reaction, and provide instructions that will enable wearers to achieve a protective fit and use the devices properly.
3M evaluated fit characteristics in healthy adults to determine that a user could achieve a protective fit following the instructions on the label. They measured how many airborne test particles were able to get inside the respirator through small leaks between the edges of the respirator and the wearer’s face. While individual results varied, all participants tested achieved some reduction in exposure to airborne test particles.
The 3M respirators are sized for adults and may not form a proper fit on children. Anything that comes between the respirator and the face, such as facial hair, may interfere with its fit. Persons with pre-existing heart or lung disease or other health conditions may have difficulty breathing through a respirator. The devices are for single use. Wearers should not wash, disinfect, reuse or share their respirator with others. The respirators should be discarded after use.
FDA will soon issue a guidance document outlining its regulatory approach to this new type of device.
Inhaling particles is just one route of exposure to disease-causing organisms. Others include touching contaminated surfaces and coming into close contact with those who have infectious diseases. A total approach to personal protection includes hand hygiene, cough etiquette and other protection practices such as avoiding crowded settings.
NIOSH and OSHA Issue Safety Bulletin on Blunt Tip Needles
The new bulletin describes the hazards associated with suture needles to surgical personnel.
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