April 19, 2002

OSHA has provided safety and health information for international business travelers and listed sources for additional guidelines on helpful strategies to reduce health risks.

"Many employees now travel to countries where they risk contracting infectious diseases that could be prevented through vaccinations and simple precautions while traveling," OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw said. "Our new technical information bulletin will help international travelers take care of their health while they take care of business."


Some travel tips applicable for all travelers include washing hands frequently, walking and driving defensively and wearing seatbelts, avoiding dairy products that may not be pasteurized, and eating only food that has been properly cooked. For example, OSHA recommends that travelers visiting developing areas drink only bottled water or carbonated drinks, avoid going barefoot, refrain from eating food purchased from street vendors and avoid handling animals that may carry infectious diseases-especially monkeys, dogs and cats.


Failure to safely de-energize machinery during set-up operations may have contributed to an accidental amputation in October at Ohio Valley Manufacturing of Mansfield, Ohio, according to citations issued by OSHA.

OSHA is proposing a total fine of $176,250 for a variety of workplace safety hazards at the metal stamping plant, as a result of an inspection the Labor Department agency opened on Oct. 9, 2001 following the accident. OSHA cited the automotive supplier for willful violations of worker safety and health regulations covering lockout and de-energizing machinery during set-up operations, failing to train workers in those procedures and for machine-guard failures.

OSHA also issued serious citations involving fire exit issues, safety problems with gas cylinders, protective eye equipment, forklift operations and power press operations.

Jule A. Jones, area director of the Toledo OSHA office, said that the company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest OSHA's action before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or accept the citations and penalties.


OSHA is seeking comment on its proposal to amend the construction industry standard for the types of traffic control signs, signals, and barricades that must be used at roadway work sites.

"By strengthening protections for roadway construction workers we can save lives and prevent senseless accidents on roads all across our nation," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "At the same time employers will have a clearer understanding of their responsibilities and greater flexibility in making these work sites as safe as possible."


Among the specific changes, the revised standard would require retro-reflective and illuminated devices at intermediate and long-term stationary temporary traffic control zones; warning devices for mobile operations at speeds above 20 mph; advance warning signs for certain closed paved shoulders; a transition area containing a merging taper when one lane is closed on a multi-lane road; temporary traffic control devices with traffic barriers that are immediately adjacent to an open lane; and temporary traffic barriers separating opposing traffic on a two-way roadway.

The standard's revision is being made through the direct final rule approach because most employers have been required by the Federal Highway Administration to comply with Revision 3 in lieu of the 1971 MUTCD since 1996. OSHA is publishing both a direct final rule and a proposed rule in the same Federal Register notice. This expedited approach saves regulatory resources over the more traditional rulemaking by streamlining one stage in the rulemaking process. If no significant adverse comments are received, the final rule will be effective on August 13, 2002. However, if such comments are received, OSHA will withdraw the direct final rule and address the comments in formulating a new final rule based on the proposal.

Public comments must be sent in triplicate by June 14, 2002, to Docket Office, Docket No. S-018, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Room N2625, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments that are 10 pages or less may also be faxed to (202) 693-1648.

The signs, signals and barricades direct final rule was published in the April 15, 2002 Federal Register.


U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced that the first industry-specific guidelines to reduce ergonomic-related injuries and illnesses would be developed for nursing homes. Representatives from the field have agreed to work with OSHA to develop a draft for public comment.

"Nursing home workers suffer back injuries and other ergonomics-related problems. Our goal is to prevent these types of injuries and illnesses from occurring," said John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "I look forward to coordinating with the profession and workers to develop this first set of industry-specific guidelines to prevent ergonomics hazards. With the nursing shortage and other issues confronting this industry, it makes sound business sense for the stakeholders involved to be the first to tackle ergonomic problems in their industry."

The draft guidelines are expected to be ready for public comment later this year. They will be published in the Federal Register for review before becoming final.

OSHA announced its comprehensive plan to dramatically reduce ergonomic injuries on April 5. In addition to industry-and-task-specific guidelines, the plan includes tough enforcement measures, workplace outreach, advanced research, and dedicated efforts to protect Hispanic and other immigrant workers.


Approximately 3,000 worksites that reported high injury and illness rates for the year 2000 are scheduled for comprehensive safety and health inspections over the next year.

"High injury and illness rates have a significant personal impact on workers, and are an added financial burden to employers," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "By focusing on worksites with the highest rates, we can target our inspection and enforcement resources where they are most needed and where they will have the most benefit."

This is the fourth year OSHA has used a site-specific targeting inspection program that consists of employer-reported injury and illness data received through OSHA's annual Data Initiative. This year's program was based on a 2001 survey of approximately 80,000 worksites (data was from calendar year 2000). The targeting program does not include construction worksites.

Employers who reported 14 or more injuries or illnesses that resulted in lost workdays or restricted activity for every 100 full-time workers can anticipate an inspection sometime over the next year. Employers who reported at least eight, but less than 14, injuries or illnesses, are placed on a secondary list for possible inspection only. The average lost workday injury and illness rate for private industry in the nation is three instances for the same number of workers.

This year's targeting program will not include the approximate 2,500 nursing or personal care facilities that reported injury and illness rates of eight or higher. Instead, OSHA will inspect approximately 1,000 of those facilities under a new National Emphasis Program focusing on specific hazards that account for the majority of nursing home staff injuries and illnesses. Those hazards include ergonomics (primarily back injuries from patient handling), bloodborne pathogens/tuberculosis, and slips, trips and falls.

Finally, OSHA will randomly select 200 workplaces that reported low injury and illness rates (from zero to eight) and add them to the primary inspection list. These establishments are all in the 25 highest rate industries that average a lost workday injury and illness rate of eight or greater. Henshaw explained that by adding low injury and illness rate establishments to the program, constructive information could be obtained on the actual degree of compliance with OSHA requirements.


Failing to protect workers from a possible trench collapse may cost Bessemer, Ala.-based waterproofing contractor Jeff Reid $99,000.

On Jan. 14, three laborers Reid hired for the day were excavating a trench around a Forestdale residence in preparation for waterproofing the basement walls. When the nine-foot deep, three-foot wide unprotected trench collapsed, two workers escaped but the third was buried and suffocated before he could be rescued.

"Placing workers in harm's way by allowing them to enter an excavation without protection against a treacherous cave-in shows plain indifference to employee safety and OSHA standards," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director.

Following an inspection of the fatality, OSHA cited Jeff Reid with one alleged willful safety violation and proposed a penalty of $63,000 for failing to shore or slope trench walls or otherwise protect employees from potential injury or death while working in an excavation.

"Like many construction companies, Jeff Reid frequently hired Spanish speaking day laborers," said Sanchez. "Employers have a responsibility to provide these workers a safe work environment and training they can understand," said Sanchez. The area director pointed out that Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, recognizing the risks posed by a language barrier, recently announced special initiatives aimed at improving safety and health for the rapidly expanding Hispanic workforce.

Five serious citations, with penalties totaling $31,500, were issued for additional violations of trench safety standards. These included failing to train workers, many of whom were day laborers, in excavation safety; not providing head protection; no safe means of entering and exiting the trench; failing to move excavated material a safe distance from the edge of the trench, and not assuring that a competent person inspected the excavation.

Because the employer failed to report the fatality to OSHA within the required eight-hours, a further penalty of $4,500 was imposed.

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. A serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability that death or serious harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. Jeff Reid has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties.