OSHA Issues Safety and Health Information Bulletin on Disposal of Contaminated Needles and Blood Tube Holders

October 16, 2003


"Removing contaminated needles and reusing blood tube holders can pose multiple hazards," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Single-use blood tube holders, when used with engineering and work practice controls, simply provide the best level of protection against needlestick injures. That is why the standard generally prohibits removing needles and re-using blood tube holders."

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard prohibits the removal of contaminated needles from medical devices unless an employer can demonstrate that it is necessary for a specific medical or dental procedure. When performing a blood drawing procedure, OSHA requires the disposal of blood tube holders with a safety needle attached immediately after each patient's blood is drawn.

In the bulletin, OSHA explains that while engineering controls exist to significantly reduce injuries to healthcare workers, hazardous work practices continue to cause injuries. The manipulation required to remove a contaminated needle, even a safety-engineered needle, from a blood tube holder may result in a needlestick with the back end of the needle, which is only covered with a rubber sleeve.

The bulletin also details OSHA's requirements for the disposal of contaminated needles. It also includes an Evaluation Toolbox which provides guidance on the evaluation, selection, and appropriate use of engineering and work practice controls in order to provide the highest degree of control.


MSHA "E-gov" Initiative Will Allow Filing of Required Forms over Internet

The site now allows mine operators, independent contractors and other mining industry stakeholders to file required forms with the agency over the Internet. As part of the federal government's "e-gov" initiative, mining industry stakeholders will now see enhancements to forms previously available and the option to provide required information directly to the agency at the MSHA Web site.

"The department's new service promotes increased efficiency and cuts red tape for mining industry stakeholders as they file forms or provide information required by MSHA rules," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The expanded Web site services also allow mine operators to spend less time processing forms and, hopefully, more time focusing on the safety and health of working miners. This helps us toward our goal of sending every miner home safe and healthy after each shift."

Mining companies, labor representatives, independent contractors and MSHA-approved instructors nationwide are now able to file the most commonly used and required MSHA forms containing certain mine safety and health information directly through the agency's Web site.

Forms available through the Web site include legal identification forms used by new mine operators and independent contractors who need to register their operations with the agency. Other forms include those for reporting quarterly employment and production and hazardous condition complaints, as well as those for submitting training plans, dust control plans, and forms for requesting petitions for modification, among many others.

 Users who have questions about the use of the service may call the help desk at 1-877-778-6055 or send an e-mail to helpdesk@msha.gov.

OSHA Issues Safety and Health Information Bulletin on Mold

Indoor exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks in some individuals.

"This bulletin offers workers some basic information on how to prevent, control and remove mold in buildings leading to the reduction of health risks," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "By reading this bulletin, workers with little or no experience with mold remediation may be able to determine if a mold problem exists and whether the contamination can be managed in-house or if outside assistance is required."

The Safety and Health Information Bulletin is directed primarily at building managers, custodians, and others responsible for building maintenance. It offers recommendations on how to prevent mold growth, proper use of personal protective equipment, ways to assess mold or moisture problems, and methods to cleanup damage caused by moisture and mold growth.

The bulletin also includes checklists on mold prevention tips, how to determine if a mold problem exists, cleanup methods, and mold remediation guidelines based on the size of an affected area to make it easier to select the appropriate techniques. Additional sections address personal protective equipment, sampling methods and remediation equipment.

Molds are found almost everywhere and can grow on virtually any substance as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Molds can damage building materials and, if left unchecked, can eventually cause structural damage to wood-framed buildings by weakening floors and walls.

Some molds have the potential to cause adverse health effects, including asthma attacks in some people who are allergic to mold. Exposure to mold can also cause other types of allergic reactions, including hay fever type symptoms, skin rashes, and irritation to the eyes, noses, throat, and lungs in both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.


OSHA Cites AmeriCold Logistics for Exposing Employees to Serious Health and Safety Hazards

OSHA has cited AmeriCold Logistics, LLC, for allegedly exposing employees to health and safety hazards observed during a May 7 inspection at a Montezuma, Ga., frozen food warehouse. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $43,950.

"OSHA standards are designed to protect workers from hazards, and they must be strictly followed to be effective," said John Deifer, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "AmeriCold Logistics did not assess the hazards in its workplace and neglected to develop procedures and documentation to prevent their workers from being exposed to dangers associated with commercial refrigeration systems."

Among the 15 serious citations issued to the company were failure to: plan properly for emergencies such as fire or accidental release of ammonia; provide employees with information about hazardous chemicals and processes at the facility; develop and implement a respiratory protection program for employees required to wear respirators; provide personal protective equipment, such as gloves and eye glasses, and develop and implement lockout-tagout procedures that would render equipment inoperable during maintenance. These citations carry $31,450 in proposed penalties.

The company also received one repeat citation with a $12,500 proposed penalty, for failing to provide a quick-drench eyewash and shower for employees working with sodium hydroxide. Deifer said the company has been cited within the past three years for a similar condition at another location, and those citations have become final orders of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The standard requires companies to develop, implement, and update plans analyzing potential risks, to outline procedures to minimize the risks, and to train employees on how to avoid exposure.


OSHA Cites Atlanta-area Firm for Fatal Forklift Accident

OSHA has cited Newnan, Ga.-based Kaylex Company for allegedly allowing an employee who was not qualified as a forklift instructor to train another worker at a College Park warehouse where a young worker was killed June 19.

OSHA issued one serious citation to the company for failing to protect workers by assuring instructors had the knowledge and experience to train powered-industrial-truck operators and evaluate their competence.

A 15-year-old trainee was killed when the forklift he was operating suddenly went into reverse, ran through the loading dock gates, flipped over and plunged four feet onto a concrete floor. The trainee was reportedly pinned under the forklift and died on the way to the hospital.

"This tragic accident may have been avoided if the company had followed the standard of only allowing trained, experienced instructors with knowledge of forklift operations to train individuals," said Andre C. Richards, OSHA's Atlanta-West area director. "Moving equipment such as forklifts can be dangerous to operate and require extensive training."

Richards said the maximum fine for a serious violation is $7,000, however, the Kaylex firm's fine was reduced to $4,900 due to its prior clean safety record and its classification as a small business.

OSHA staff in the Southeast have investigated at least nine other forklift fatalities and 30 industrial truck fatalities since Oct. 1, 2002. He said compliance assistance specialists, who work separately from OSHA's enforcement program, are available in each area office to assist employers in recognizing and reducing hazards that lead to such accidents.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citation and penalty before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division previously issued an $11,000 civil money penalty to the company under provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The penalty was assessed for allowing a teen to operate a forklift, which is a hazardous occupation banned for youths under the age of 18.

Serious Violations of Health and Safety Standards Bring American Foundry Group $261,500 in OSHA Fines

An employer's alleged failure to protect employees from a wide range of safety and health hazards has resulted in citations for 18 alleged violations of standards from OSHA. Proposed penalties total $261,500.

American Foundry Group Inc.(AFGI), in Muskogee, Okla., was cited following an inspection that began April 8 under OSHA's "Specific Targeting Program," focused on workplaces with high injury and illness rates. The carbon steel alloy foundry, a subsidiary of Lionheart Industries Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio, manufactures petro-chemical valves and fittings. About 383 workers are employed corporate-wide. There are 118 at the Muskogee site.

"Workers are being exposed to molten metal splash and this employer is doing very little to protect them," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Citations have been issued as a result of previous OSHA inspections, including a February 2002 investigation in which an employee was fatally burned due to an explosion caused by molten metal coming into contact with water. We will not tolerate this persistent disregard for worker safety."

The April inspection consisted of both safety and health components.

Citations issued for violations of safety standards included two alleged willful and six alleged serious violations. The willful violations included the employer's failure to ensure the use of personal protective equipment while pouring molten metal and failure to train "authorized" employees under OSHA's Control of Hazardous Energy standard. The serious citations were for failing to ensure compliance with a "lockout/tag-out" program to prevent machines from starting up when workers are doing maintenance or repairs; failing to ensure molten metal does not come into contact with water; and failing to complete guardrail systems on catwalks and staircases.

Citations issued as a result of the health inspection were for one alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations. The willful citation was for failing to address identification, evaluation and surveillance of respiratory hazards in the workplace. The serious violations were for failing to address hazards associated with the use of respiratory protection, failing to involve employees in a respirator program, failing to provide medical evaluations for respirator users and failing to inspect and properly maintain respiratory protection equipment.

A willful violation is an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the OSHA law and regulation requirements. A serious violations is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition about which the employer knew or should have known.

American Foundry has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Oklahoma City area office, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.