OSHA National Emphasis Program on Amputations Updated

December 30, 2019
OSHA recently issued an updated National Emphasis Program (NEP) to focus agency inspections on amputation hazards in manufacturing industries. This directive updates the 2015 NEP on amputations.
The NEP targets industrial and manufacturing workplaces where employees are injured by unguarded or improperly guarded machinery and equipment. NEPs focus agency enforcement activity and do not create any new obligation to employers.
The updated NEP:
  • Revises targeting methodology to include data from amputation reporting requirements;
  • Revises coding requirements for amputation inspections in the OSHA Information System; and
  • Adds new appendices on amputations targeting methodology and North American Industry Classification System codes.
The emphasis program includes a three-month period of education and prevention outreach, which will run until March 10, 2020. During this period, OSHA will continue to respond to complaints, referrals, hospitalizations and fatalities. Enforcement activities will begin after the outreach period and remain in effect until canceled. OSHA-approved State Plans are expected to have enforcement procedures that are at least as effective as those in this instruction.
Employers are already responsible for ensuring machines are properly safeguarded to prevent worker amputations and other fatal injuries. OSHA’s Machine Guarding webpage provides compliance assistance resources to help employers identify amputation hazards, and follow required procedures to properly guard stationary and portable machines.
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Occupational Exposure Limits for Nanoparticles
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intends to evaluate the scientific data on engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) to develop categorical occupational exposure limits (OELs) based on the available scientific evidence regarding the hazard or safety of these materials.
In a Federal Register notice, NIOSH asked for any available materials, including published and unpublished reports and research findings, to evaluate the possible adverse health risks of occupational exposure to ENMs.
The development of an OEL for an individual chemical involves a critical review of the available scientific data in humans and animals to identify relevant studies and to characterize the various lines of evidence that can support the derivation of the OEL. NIOSH has requested information for ENMs to include human, animal, and cellular toxicology data, including but not limited to: Acute, subchronic, or chronic data; the physicochemical characterization of those ENMs; and other information about the biological mechanisms and Start Printed Page 68936toxicological effects of ENMs. NIOSH is also seeking information on studies that include evaluating the dose-response relationships between exposure to ENMs and the development of adverse lung effects including inflammation, fibrosis, or neoplasia.
NIOSH will publish a Technical Report which describes the data, methods, and findings for the development of categorical OELs for ENMs, which may include relevant information submitted in response to this request. The draft Technical Report will be made available for public comment in a subsequent notice.
100 Years of the Hard Hat, 100 Years of Safety
In a recent blog, which is excerpted below, John Howard, M.D. Director, NIOSH marked the 100th anniversary of the invention of the hard hat. The hard hat is one of the most recognizable pieces of safety equipment in the world. Hard hats were first worn by construction workers beginning in the 1920s. Over the years, hard hats have come to symbolize the strength of the construction industry and its workers.
Hard hats are designed to protect workers from head injuries due to falling objects or overhead hazards by reducing the intensity and distributing the pressure of impacts to the head. The E.D. Bullard Company, in San Francisco, California, was the first manufacturer to develop and sell hard hats that were used by some miners and laborers. At the time, Bullard referred to their product as the “Hard Boiled®” hat. In the early 1930s, electricians in Boston, Massachusetts, also began wearing hard hats. By the mid-1930s, construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began, and all workers were expected to wear hard hats [Carpenter et al. 2019].
During the ensuing 40 years, hard hats of various shapes and materials reached the market. These included hard hats made of steel, aluminum, canvas and resin, Bakelite®, and fiberglass. In each case, these hats were advertised as light, resilient, and cool while protecting the worker. In the 1960s, hard hats made of plastics such as polyethylene were sold. In the 1970s, when OSHA and NIOSH were created under the OSH Act, the use of hard hats was regulated as part of the head protection standard, and hard hat use significantly expanded [OSHA 2019]. As demand increased, more manufacturers produced hard hats, including MSA, Honeywell, 3M, and Kask [Rosenberg et al. 2010].
The hard hat has a rich history, but its design has remained fairly consistent over the decades, including a suspension system and outer shell. In recent years, safety helmets, similar to those worn in mountain climbing or ice hockey, have begun to be used on some construction sites to improve worker protections beyond that provided by the traditional hard hat. NIOSH is studying the performance and design of hard hats and safety helmets to improve overall personal protection with the hope of potentially reducing the likelihood of traumatic brain injury caused by falls and to save lives [Konda et al. 2016; Wu et al. 2017].
Ventilation and Training Recommendations Provided to a Brewery
After evaluating the ventilation at laser coding stations on the can-packing lines, NIOSH HHE Program investigators recommended dust control measures, creating a filter change-out schedule, and training employees on use, care, and maintenance of local exhaust ventilation systems, including how to safely clean the laser coding ventilation reusable filter. See the report: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2017-0072-3347.pdf.
Contractor Exposed Employee To Fall Hazards at Palm Beach Gardens, Port Saint Lucie Worksites
OSHA has cited Action Roofing Services Inc. – based in Pompano Beach, Florida – for exposing employees to safety hazards at Palm Beach Gardens and Port Saint Lucie, Florida, worksites. The roofing contractor faces $146,280 in penalties.
OSHA cited the contractor for failing to provide fall protection to employees installing roofing tile at both worksites. At the Port Saint Lucie worksite, OSHA also cited Action Roofing for improperly using the upper section of an extension ladder to gain access to a roof, and for placing the ladder in front of a door without securing it. At the Palm Beach Garden worksite, the agency cited the contractor for failing to train workers on how to recognize and prevent fall hazards. OSHA conducted the inspections in conjunction with the agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction.
“Falls continue to be a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction,” said OSHA Area Office Director Condell Eastmond, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Employers must provide workers performing roofing activities with appropriate fall protection to help ensure their safety.”
OSHA’s Protecting Roofing Workers booklet explains fall protection requirements, and how to set up personal fall arrest and fall restraint systems, and properly secure ladders.
Evaluation of Lead and Copper Exposure at an Indoor Shooting Range
Finding elevated lead concentrations in air samples on employees who were changing exhaust prefilters and emptying buckets behind the bullet trap, NIOSH HHE Program investigators recommended changes to these maintenance tasks, improvements to the current facility standard operating procedures, and ensuring appropriate sizes for Tyvek suits and nitrile gloves are available. See the report: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2018-0124-3351.pdf.
Contractor Cited for Exposing Workers to Serious Injury, Death from Falls
Oregon OSHA has fined a Bend contractor more than $15,000 following an accident investigation that found the company failed to protect workers from fall hazards on a multistory apartment construction job in Gresham, OR.
The division cited SGS Development LLC for three job safety violations – two of them repeat offenses – including failing to ensure a temporary wooden staircase had the structural integrity to support employees before allowing them to use it for access as they worked.
As one worker walked down the staircase, the temporary structure collapsed. The worker fell 18 feet onto the concrete ground floor. The worker suffered a spinal injury, multiple back, leg, and body fractures, and loss of consciousness.
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. While such accidents are not uncommon on construction sites, they are preventable.
“The requirements to protect workers from falls are clear, as are the measures employers can take to identify and effectively address such hazards,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “As this case demonstrates, the consequences of choosing otherwise are all too real.”
Oregon OSHA launched an investigation of SGS Development in June in response to the accident at the apartment construction site in Gresham. In addition to citing the company for a serious violation for exposing workers to a structurally unsound temporary staircase, the division’s investigation found the company committed two repeat offenses – both connected to fall-protection failures.
Oregon OSHA maintains rules for construction activities that specify the minimum height at which workers must be protected from falling. SGS Development failed to implement fall protection systems – such as a personal fall restraint system or other measures – where employees were exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level. Instead, the company allowed three employees to install temporary wooden staircases with no fall protection measures in place, exposing them to falls of up to 22 feet. Meanwhile, SGS Development failed to provide two employees with fall protection training.
The company was cited for neglecting the same minimum height and training requirements in December 2017, involving a different under-construction apartment complex.
Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses. The citation against SGS Development carries a total proposed penalty of $15,625. The fine amount includes a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company.
Manufacturer Cited for Exposing Employees to Safety Hazards at Georgia Worksite
OSHA has cited Wright Metal Products Crates LLC – based in South Bend, Indiana, and operating as WMP Crates – for exposing employees to amputation, chemical and other safety hazards at a worksite in Lavonia, Georgia. The company faces $195,034 in penalties.
OSHA cited the metal container manufacturer for failing to train employees on lockout/tagout procedures, require employees to apply their own locks when performing die changes on machinery, and provide appropriate eye and face protection. OSHA also cited the company for exposing employees to hazardous paint fumes, failing to separate propylene and oxygen cylinders, and not properly labeling hazardous chemicals. OSHA conducted the inspection in accordance with the National Emphasis Program on Amputations and the Regional Emphasis Program for Powered Industrial Trucks.
“Effectively implementing comprehensive safety and health programs that include steps for identifying and eliminating hazards protects workers, and prevents injuries and illnesses,” said OSHA Area Director William Fulcher, in Atlanta-East.
See these links for resources on requirements for: labeling hazardous chemicals, machine guarding, and eye and face protection.
NCDOL Warns Businesses to be Aware of Labor Law Poster Scams
After handling multiple reports of companies using scare tactics or threatening language about fines to sell labor law posters to employers, the N.C. Department of Labor warns businesses across the state to be vigilant about suspicious correspondence they may receive.
“These scams surface periodically and business owners, confused and upset about receiving the correspondence, will contact us,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “The threats of fines are bogus and should be ignored. The Department of Labor provides free sets of labor law posters to businesses.”
The scammers often pose as government officials or use company names such as the North Carolina Labor Law Poster Service, a non-regulatory entity that does not operate under any government agency. These companies use public information to contact new and old businesses to try and swindle them into purchasing labor law posters. The N.C. Department of Labor has issued cease and desist letters to these companies, but many are still operating.
Some poster companies threaten fines from $7,000 to as much as $17,000 for non-compliance. Mailings can often appear to be from an official or government source and request fees for posters that cost anywhere from $84 to $200. The letters received from these companies often are printed to look like an invoice. Businesses should be aware that scammers may also attempt to contact them by either email, text or phone.
While labor law posters are required to be displayed at a workplace by law, NCDOL inspectors carry the most up-to-date versions of the posters in their vehicles and will distribute them free of charge. The N.C. Department of Labor will never fine a business that has older versions of the posters displayed.
NCDOL prints new versions anytime a significant law is changed or updated by Congress. Businesses are not required to order a new poster each time a change is made. Employers that wish to order new posters can visit the NC website or can call 1-800-625-2267.
The labor law posters are printed in two sections and must be posted together in an area where employees frequently gather. If you have a poster with a printed date of 11/17 in the bottom right-hand corner, you have the most current set of posters.
The N.C. Department of Justice recently issued a consumer alert concerning this imposter scam. If you have been or are contacted by this company, do not feel pressured to buy a labor law poster. Report them to NCDOJ’s Consumer Protection Division online or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM
Massachusetts Court Sentenced Contractor Convicted for Manslaughter and Witness Intimidation in Deadly 2016 Trench Collapse
The Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston, Massachusetts, recently sentenced Atlantic Drain Service Company Inc. owner Kevin Otto to two years imprisonment on each of two counts of manslaughter, to run concurrently, and three years of probation for witness intimidation. The court’s action follows an OSHA investigation into a trench collapse on October 21, 2016, that led to two fatal injuries of two employees.
The witness intimidation charge resulted from the defendant’s attempts to mislead OSHA during the investigation of the collapse. The court also fined Atlantic Drain $1,000 for each count of manslaughter, and $5,000 for witness intimidation, totaling $7,000.
"Employers that display willful disregard for employee safety and/or obstruct, mislead or otherwise interfere with an OSHA inspection will face serious consequences," said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston, Massachusetts. "The court agreed Kevin Otto knew what safeguards were needed and required to protect his employees, yet he chose to ignore his responsibility to provide them. The result was the loss of two men."
"The U.S. Department of Labor thanks the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office which prosecuted the case, with assistance from the Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Office of Inspector General and Office of the Solicitor, as well as the Boston Police Homicide Division," said the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regional Solicitor Maia Fisher, in Boston.
The judge’s decision also stated Atlantic Drain and any company owned and operated by Otto may not employ, directly or indirectly, anyone working in a trench deeper than four feet during his three-year probation.
Dollar Tree Stores Cited for Exposing Alabama Employees to Safety Hazards
OSHA has cited national discount retailer Dollar Tree Stores Inc. for exposing employees to safety hazards at its Rainbow Drive store in Rainbow City, Alabama. The company faces $104,192 in penalties.
OSHA cited the company for exposing employees to struck-by hazards by failing to ensure the stacking of cases of merchandise in excess of 8 feet high in a stable manner.
"Employers are responsible for ensuring that materials are stored in a safe manner that does not expose workers to injuries," said OSHA Birmingham Area Director Ramona Morris. "It is unacceptable that this employer continues to subject workers to the same hazards previously identified and cited at other Dollar Tree locations."
According to OSHA, Dollar Tree Stores Inc. has a long history of serious and repeated violations related to unsafe merchandise stacking and blocked exits.
OSHA’s Worker Safety Series on Warehousing provides solutions to prevent improperly stored materials from falling.
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