OSHA announced the beginning of a statewide local emphasis program in Kansas aimed at reducing the frequency of work-related silicosis resulting from employee exposure to crystalline silica.
Silica is a general term for the compound silicon dioxide (SiO2). Crystalline silica is the basic component of sand, quartz and granite rock. Occupational exposure to crystalline silica dust can produce silicosis, a dust disease of the lung. Inhalation of dusts that contain crystalline silica has also been associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and lung cancer.
High silica exposures have been found at counter top fabrication facilities as well as other businesses performing similar tasks on stone products, e.g., making tombstones. Worker exposure to silica-containing dust is dependent on a number of factors, including the amount of crystalline silica in the material, the specific tools being used, the amount of dust being generated by the tasks being performed with the material, and the use of measures, such as wet methods or ventilation, to control the amount of dust reaching the breathing zone of the worker.
Under this local emphasis program, the OSHA office in Wichita will randomly select for inspection, general industry workplaces where exposures to crystalline silica are possible due to such tasks as grinding, cutting, routing, drilling, chipping, or polishing on granite and other stone materials containing crystalline silica.
The agency's goal is to reduce employee exposures to silica-related hazards through education and increased awareness. Training and outreach opportunities will be coordinated by the Wichita OSHA office.
Employers, workers, professional associations and labor organizations may request information on the program by contacting the Wichita OSHA office at 316-269-6644, or toll-free in Kansas at 1-800-362-2896.
OSHA Urges Safe Tornado Clean-UpFree Training to Precede Active Enforcement in Springfield, Ill., Area
OSHA is urging contractors engaged in the massive clean-up following two tornadoes that struck the Springfield, Ill., area in mid-March to work safely, obey workplace safety regulations and make certain that no human tragedies follow the destruction caused by the disastrous weather.
The federal workplace safety agency is offering two outreach meetings at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC), Tuesday and Wednesday, April 4 and 5, from 5 to 6 p.m. Local contractors can learn more about how to avoid unsafe conditions and refresh their knowledge of safe work practices. Both meetings will be held in Room 215 in the Millennium Center on the main LLCC campus.
During the initial emergency response, OSHA staff provided technical assistance to work crews and individuals, temporarily suspending routine enforcement procedures, such as citing employers for violations and proposing fines.
"Immediately after the tornadoes passed through the area, we sent teams of safety professionals to Springfield to advise contractors and others on safe work practices," said OSHA's Peoria Area Director John Newquist. "We approached workers who were exposed to falls, working with chain saws, wood chippers and electrical equipment, and reminded them of the safety hazards associated with their activities."
Newquist said the immediate emergency phase is now over, and OSHA compliance staff will resume regular enforcement. He said that roofing work will be of particular concern in the coming months.
"The free outreach program we're scheduling for next week will help contractors achieve zero fatalities and zero serious injuries during this clean-up period," according to Newquist. "That's why we are urging those responsible for the safety and health of their workers to take advantage of this opportunity."
Contractors interested in learning more about OSHA regulations and safe work practices may gain additional information about the outreach effort by contacting William Hancock at the Peoria OSHA office at 309-589-7033.
Wheelabrator Earns 2 OSHA Stars
Wheelabrator Technologies' waste-to-energy plant in Lisbon, Conn., has been recertified for an additional five-year membership in OSHA's prestigious "Star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). And Wheelabrator Claremont L.P. is the latest New Hampshire worksite to earn membership in OSHA's prestigious "Star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
"This award spotlights Wheelabrator's ongoing commitment to effective safety and health management at this site," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "Our review of the plant's safety and health management programs found they continue to be consistent with the high quality of VPP participants, while its injury and illness rates remain exceptionally low."
Thirty-four employees work at the Lisbon plant, which continues as part of an elite corps of about 1,400 workplaces nationwide that have earned VPP recognition. Its "Star" recertification came after an OSHA team's thorough on-site review of its safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the worksite. The plant was first certified as a "Star" site in 2003.
The Wheelabrator Claremont waste-to-energy generating plant, which employs 25 workers, earned its "Star" designation after an OSHA team's thorough on-site review of its application and safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the worksite.
"Our review of Wheelabrator's safety and health management programs at this site found them consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "With illness and injury rates well below industry averages, this facility now joins an elite corps of 1,400 workplaces nationwide that have achieved VPP status."
In qualifying for "Star" status, the plant verified that it had implemented programs and procedures beyond what OSHA standards require with extensive involvement by both management and workers. Its written safety and health management system effectively addresses worksite hazards by identifying and tracking them to ensure their correction and control. Its safety and health training programs ensure that employees and contractors understand occupational hazards and how to control them.
Requirements for application to VPP include a high degree of management support and employee involvement; a high-quality worksite hazard analysis; prevention and control programs, and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each of these elements must be effective, in place and in operation for at least one year before a company can apply to join the program. Additional information is available from the VPP manager at the OSHA regional office in Boston at (617) 565-9890.
Modine Earns OSHA "Star" for Workplace Safety and Health
Modine Manufacturing Company's West Kingston plant has become the fourth Rhode Island worksite to earn membership in OSHA's "Star" Voluntary Protection Program.
"Our review of Modine's safety and health management programs at this site found them consistent with the high quality expected of VPP participants," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "With illness and injury rates below industry averages, this facility now joins an elite corps of 1,400 workplaces nationwide that have achieved VPP status."
The West Kingston plant manufactures various types of heaters and employs 63 permanent and 14 temporary workers. Its "Star" designation came after an OSHA team's thorough on-site review of its application and safety and health programs, interviews with employees and a complete tour of the worksite.
In qualifying for "Star" status, the plant verified that it had implemented programs and procedures beyond the requirements of OSHA standards with extensive involvement by both management and workers. Its written safety and health management system effectively addresses worksite hazards by identifying and tracking them to ensure their correction and control. Its safety and health training programs ensure that employees and contractors understand occupational hazards and how to control them.
OSHA Renews Alliance with the Construction Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers
OSHA and the Construction Institute (CI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) are extending their Alliance for another two years to continue focusing on safety and health issues in the construction industry."
The collective expertise of the Construction Institute of ASCE and OSHA can make a significant impact on the safety and health of construction workers," said Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. "This Alliance gives us the tools to encourage employers and workers to commit to safe work practices and achieve positive gains toward reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities."
"Two years after signing the Alliance, we are very pleased with the results. In particular, the OSHA Alliance Program Construction Roundtable's Design for Safety workgroup has far exceeded our expectations," said Marvin Oey, Director, CI-ASCE. "The trust and cooperation among fellow Alliance Program participants has been excellent and we look forward to continuing to work with OSHA to meet the goals of the agreement."
OSHA and CI-ASCE will continue to work together to encourage employers to increase employee access to safety and health information and training resources, especially in the area of crane safety and to incorporate safety and health issues into the construction/constructability process. In addition, OSHA and CI-ASCE are distributing information through print and electronic media, including using OSHA's and CI-ASCE's Web sites.
Since the Alliance's implementation, CI-ASCE has played an important role within the OSHA Alliance Program Construction Roundtable's Design for Safety Workgroup by taking the lead in developing a Design for Safety PowerPoint presentation and a Design for Safety Web page. CI-ASCE will continue to work on the Web page and encourage members of the workgroup to review and provide recommendations for the page.
Founded in 1852, ASCE represents 130,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society.
OSHA Alliance with Dow Leads to Case Studies on Motor Vehicle Safety
Reducing motor vehicle accidents (MVA) is the focus of a new pair of case studies that are the product of OSHA's Alliance with The Dow Chemical Company (Dow). Through the Alliance, originally signed in 2003, Dow worked to identify the root causes of MVAs and implement effective motor carrier and vehicle safety programs."These case studies offer useful information and demonstrate the correlation between safety and health excellence and business excellence," said Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. "They provide practical examples of how this correlation can enhance worker safety and health, improve employee morale, and increase quality, efficiency and profitability."
Motor Carrier Safety Case Study: A Collaborative Approach to Reducing Motor Carrier Incidents describes how Dow worked with one of its motor carriers to implement a new behavior-based safety program to reduce rear-end collisions. Drivers served as observers of critical causes and submitted their data anonymously. The data were collected, posted, and discussed by the drivers during safety meetings. A group of drivers met to identify the causes of certain types of accidents, evaluate them and establish preventative measures. The goal for the project was an annual 60-percent reduction in rear-end collisions, but in the first year, the reduction was 82%.
Motor Vehicle Accident Case Study: The Dow Chemical Company's Use of "Six Sigma" Methodology traces how a Dow business unit used a problem-solving methodology called "Six Sigma" to find the root causes of MVAs and offer innovative ways to reduce them. At Dow, MVAs were the largest single cause of occupational fatalities for the period 1992 through 2002. Dow implemented its program in 2002 and by 2004 the company reduced its MVAs by 30%.
The case studies are available on OSHA's Alliance Program Website and can be used in business and other training curricula that address management skills and occupational safety and health issues.
OSHA Cites Leitz Tooling for Safety Violations
OSHA cited Michigan-based Leitz Tooling Systems for failing to protect workers from chemical and safety hazards at the company's Muscle Shoals service center. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $48,650.
"The working conditions at this facility pose a serious threat to workers' health and safety," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director.
OSHA issued 21 serious citations against the company after a December 2005 inspection of the shop, where employees sharpen and recondition saw blades and wood milling tools.
Inspectors determined that employees had not received appropriate training about safe handling of, or adverse health effects associated with, the chemicals used at the center. Additionally, employees were reportedly not provided personal protective equipment while working with corrosive chemicals. Emergency eyewash or safety shower stations were also not available in the event workers were burned or splashed.
OSHA further determined that employees were exposed to: electrical shocks from conductive metal working fluids which flowed over equipment; slipping hazards where fluid accumulated on the floor; and amputation hazards from unguarded cutting machines. Inspectors also found that the service center lacked an emergency exit.
Newest "SHARP" Companies Certified
OSHA recently certified 117 companies as Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) sites. The SHARP program recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. The latest list of certified sites can be viewed on the SHARP page of OSHA's Web site, by clicking on the "See Who's SHARP" button.Southeast Mining Companies Honored for Safety Practices.
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Mine and
Cave Safety and Health Program partners with the Southeast Missouri Mine Safety Association (SEMMSA) each year to present awards to southeast Missouri mining and smelting companies, as well as contracting companies.á The awards are given for excelling in mine safety and health.
The 2005 SEMMSA awards banquet will be held March 30, 2006, at 6:00 p.m. at the Tradition Inn, Highway W and Highway 67, in Farmington, MO.á Mitchell Adams, Mine Safety and Health Administration's Assistant District Manager in the South Central District in Dallas, Texas, will be the keynote speaker.á
During the banquet, awards will be given to mining companies with the best safety record.á The evening will end with the most improved underground operation and surface mine being recognized.á Awards will also be given for best safety records.á Missouri's Mine and Cave Safety and Health Program will act as the presenter of the awards.
The Mine and Cave Safety and Health Program provides no-cost training and consultation to mine owners and workers, as well as contractors, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.á Consultation provides services in the areas of training and training plan development, mine rescue, hazard awareness and abatement, risk assessment and alternative solutions to mine hazard abatement.á The program's mine safety instructors trained more than 5,700 Missouri miners in federal fiscal year 2005.
Steve Cant Named Head of Washington State's Workplace Safety and Health Program
Steve Cant was named to head the workplace safety and health division of the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). L&I Director Gary Weeks said he made his decision to appoint Cant after a nationwide search.
"I'm confident Steve is the right person to move our safety and health program forward, in partnership with business and labor," Weeks said. "We know that most employers want to keep their workers safe and we are committed to providing them with the tools to succeed."
Weeks said Cant will build on recent workplace-safety partnerships with the Washington State Farm Bureau and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.
"We want to have the safest workplaces in the nation so that workers don't have to suffer injuries, or even death, on the job," Cant said. "I'm excited about working with business and labor to develop new and innovative partnerships and to expand our consultation services in balance with our enforcement activities."
Cant has been acting assistant director of L&I's Washington Industrial Safety and Health division, commonly known as WISHA, for eight months. He has been with L&I since 1975, most recently as the agency's principal liaison to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Cant currently is chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association. He is a certified industrial hygienist and a native of Everett who now resides in Olympia. He is a 2004 recipient of the Governor's Distinguished Management Sustaining Leadership Award.
Edwin G. Foulke Scheduled to Assume Post as Head of OSHA
Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., is scheduled to take the reins of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on April 3. Foulke, nominated by President George W. Bush last September, was confirmed by the Senate on March 15, 2006 to become Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Foulke previously served on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission from 1990 to 1995, chairing the commission from March 1990 through February 1994. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said recently that Foulke "has extensive knowledge and experience in workplace safety and health issues that he will put to use to protect workers and promote employer compliance."
Employers Encouraged to Recognize Alcohol Awareness Month in Aprilá
April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, and businesses around the country are encouraged to participate by educating employees about alcohol use and its impact on safety and health-both on and off the job. More information about how businesses can take part is available on DOL's Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace Web site.
OSHA and Koch Industries Renew PartnershipDiscuss
OSHA renewed its national partnership with Koch Industries Inc. to continue strengthening safety and health for workers at eight facilities owned by Koch company affiliates around the country. The partnership with the Wichita, Kan.-based company was first signed in January 2003.
Two National Alliances Formed with OSHA, another Renewedá
Reducing ergonomic-related injuries and preventing exposure to workplace hazards is the focus of a new alliance between OSHA and the Brick Industry Association. OSHA also formed an alliance with the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association, targeting highway work zone hazards, motor vehicle safety and silica dangers. The Construction Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers is renewing its alliance with OSHA to continue focusing on safety and health issues in the construction industry.
Avian Flu Virus Vaccine Shown to be Effective
Results from a clinical trial demonstrate that high doses of an experimental H5N1 avian influenza vaccine can induce immune responses in healthy adults. Approximately half of those volunteers who received an initial and a booster dose of the highest dosage of the vaccine tested in the trial developed levels of infection-fighting antibodies that current tests predict would neutralize the virus. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the study, published in the current issue of 'The New England Journal of Medicine". Preliminary results from this trial were first disclosed late last summer.
"These findings represent an important step forward in the nation's efforts to prepare for the possible emergence of a human pandemic of H5N1 avian influenza," notes NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
H5N1 avian influenza viruses are of enormous concern to public health officials worldwide. The potential for a human avian flu pandemic looms large, say experts, as daily reports indicate an increasing spread of infection in bird populations in Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. According to the World Health Organization, as of March 24, 2006, 186 people had been infected with avian flu viruses, and more than half of them had died.
Generally, flu viruses are easily transmitted from person to person, but so far, the H5N1 avian influenza viruses have not demonstrated this characteristic. In the worst-case scenario, if an avian flu virus became easily transmissible from person to person, it could trigger an influenza pandemic because humans have no pre-existing immunity to these viruses.
The "NEJM" article describes an analysis of data on the safety and immune responses to the vaccine. In general, the higher the dosage of vaccine, the greater the antibody response produced. Of the 99 people evaluated in the 90-mcg, high-dose group, 54% achieved a neutralizing antibody response to the vaccine at serum dilutions of 1:40 or greater, whereas only 22% of the 100 people evaluated who received the 15-mcg dose developed a similar response to the vaccine.
Generally, all dosages of the vaccine appeared to be well tolerated:
- Almost all reported side effects were mild
- The second dose of vaccine did not cause more local or systemic symptoms than the first
- Systemic complaints of fever, malaise, muscle aches, headaches and nausea occurred with the same frequency in all dosage groups as in the placebo group
- Lab tests did not reveal any clinically significant abnormalities
The vaccine, made from an inactivated H5N1 virus isolated in Southeast Asia in 2004, was manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Swiftwater, PA, under contract to NIAID. Because there are no manufacturers licensed in the United States to use adjuvants in inactivated influenza vaccines, NIAID's first step was to test an H5N1 influenza vaccine made in a way that mimics the process used to make conventional flu vaccines. The clinical data collected in this study are now available to support the potential use of this vaccine should it be needed for an emerging pandemic.