OSHA Starts Emphasis Program on Cranes in Construction

August 18, 2008

 The program conducts safety inspections of workplaces in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and sites in New Mexico that are under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

"This Regional Emphasis Program (REP) was established as an enforcement initiative for the inspection of cranes used in construction, with the goal of preventing serious and fatal injuries to employees working on and around cranes," Regional Administrator Dean McDaniel said. “The REP will address various hazards associated with cranes, including but not limited to, being struck by objects, electrocution, crane tip-over, being caught in or between machinery, and falls. Past inspection evidence indicates these hazards are the leading causes of accidents where cranes are used in the construction industry."

The emphasis program is intended to supplement existing OSHA targeting programs, focusing additional resources as necessary to monitor jobsites, promote compliance, and promote awareness of safety and health hazards during construction activities involving cranes. OSHA will utilize a number of tools to address this issue, including enforcement, outreach, training, on-site consultation, partnerships, alliances and the agency's Voluntary Protection Programs.

 The OSHA standard requires that employers conduct tower crane inspections prescribed by the manufacturer.

OSHA Announces Northern Florida “Swept Up in Safety Week” to Occur in August

In the past, similar unannounced safety weeks have been successful in reducing construction-related fatalities in targeted areas of the Southeast. OSHA compliance officers will focus their enforcement efforts on construction sites in the area that reaches from Daytona Beach to Pensacola, Fla.

OSHA field activities are designed to identify and eliminate safety and health hazards at construction sites, thereby reducing the numbers of injuries and fatalities resulting from the four leading causes of accidents—falls, struck-by/crushing events, electrocutions, and caught-in-between events. During previous "Swept Up in Safety Week" campaign periods, agency compliance officers conducted immediate inspections when unsafe working conditions were observed at construction sites. Compliance officers also entered worksites to provide outreach and training as well as to encourage employers to continue their good work when it was observed.

"One of OSHA's goals this year is to continue increasing employers' awareness about eliminating hazards that lead to employee fatalities," said James Borders, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "The increased presence of our field compliance officers and the immediate inspections they conduct after observing unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches, and other construction hazards will lead to a reduction in worksite fatalities."

OSHA's fiscal year 2007 "Swept Up in Safety Week" campaigns helped to reduce fatalities at construction sites overseen by federal OSHA offices in the southeastern United States by 10.4% compared with fiscal year 2006. During the four designated safety weeks in fiscal year 2007, OSHA conducted 2,086 compliance inspections throughout the Southeast, while conducting 1,294 on-site interventions where no inspection was performed.

OSHA Proposes $150,000 in Penalties Against Egg Farm for Directing Employees to Work In and Atop a Partially Collapsed Building

. Maine Contract Farming LLC was cited for four alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards for these and other hazardous conditions.

A section of the roof of an egg processing complex collapsed February 16 under the weight of snow and ice. Maine Contract Farming directed its employees to enter the partially collapsed structure to retrieve eggs and brace the broken roof trusses and to climb atop the damaged roof to remove snow and ice. The employer did not first evaluate the building's structural integrity to determine if it was safe for entry and also did not provide fall protection for the employees on the roof.

"Those employees working inside the building were in danger of being struck by collapsing sections of its roof, walls, and framing members, while those employees shoveling snow and ice atop the pitched roof lacked protection against falls of up to 22 feet," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine. "This disregard for basic, commonsense safety procedures and employee protections is as astonishing as it is unacceptable."

For these struck-by and fall hazards, OSHA issued Maine Contract Farming two willful citations and proposed $140,000 in fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA's inspection also found that employees working in other buildings on the farm were exposed to collapse hazards due to Maine Contract Farming's failure to determine each roof's weight-bearing capacity and to remove excess accumulations of snow and ice. In addition, employees operating powered industrial trucks were exposed to crushing injuries from not using seat belts while operating the vehicles.

These conditions resulted in OSHA issuing two serious citations, with $10,000 in proposed fines, to Maine Contract Farming. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

NIOSH Posts Two Documents for Public Comment

The revised draft strategic research document, “Asbestos Fibers and Other Elongated Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research,” incorporates public comments and peer review comments on the initial version. 

NIOSH is seeking input from stakeholders and manufacturers on the draft document, “The Potential Modification of the NIOSH Statement of Standard for a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Full Facepiece Air-Purifying Respirator.” 

FRA Calls on Railroads to Join in a New Safety Program Designed to Reduce Risks That Can Lead to Train Accidents and Employee Injuries

Improving upon the historic levels of safety achieved in recent years by the nation’s railroads will require the use of a new risk-based approach to identify and correct safety issues before they result in train accidents and employee injuries, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman told industry leaders at a recent Rail Safety Summit.

“Fixing something after it breaks or writing rule violation notices is increasingly unlikely to result in significant additional gains in rail safety,” Boardman said. He announced the Risk Reduction Program (RRP), which is aimed at supplementing current federal regulations, inspection requirements, and other compliance and enforcement activities.

Boardman said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has recently sponsored several risk-reduction pilot projects and now is moving toward establishing the RRP as a formal agency safety program. In addition to input from rail management and labor, the FRA will be accepting public comment this fall on the RRP and how to make it most effective.

The RRP initiative will develop innovative methods, processes, and technologies to address the contributing risk factors that result in train accidents and employee injuries. For example, a conventional approach to prevent train derailments is to search for and fix any broken joint bars that connect two sections of track. A risk-based strategy will focus on identifying the precursors that indicate a joint bar might break followed by proper preventive maintenance before it fails.

Boardman said the RRP framework encourages voluntary participation of railroads and labor on projects that target specific risk categories, such as confidential close-call reporting systems, peer-to-peer accident prevention strategies, and fatigue risk management programs. In addition, the RRP supports the strategic use by railroads of technology, such as trackside equipment to monitor trains as they roll by to identify potential safety problems. And, it will be necessary for railroads to develop and strengthen their safety cultures so that the risk-based approach to safety eventually becomes second nature.

At the August 12 Rail Safety Summit, Boardman presented awards to the Union Pacific Railroad, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the United Transportation Union for their partnership with the FRA Office of Railroad Development on two effective risk-reduction demonstration projects. The first is for the Changing At-Risk Behavior (CAB) project that resulted in an 80% reduction of the targeted behavior in less than two years. The other is for the ongoing Safety Through Employees Exercising Leadership (STEEL) project that has so far removed more than 75 barriers to safety.

OSHA Recognizes Coors Brewing for Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health

OSHA has recognized the management and employees of Coors Brewing Co. in Huntley, Mont., for special achievement in their employee safety and health program.

The facility, which processes, stores, and distributes barley, earned membership in the prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) as a star site, the highest level of recognition that OSHA awards. A VPP star site meets or exceeds all the safety and health program elements for the VPP program, which far exceeds minimum OSHA standards. An OSHA VPP flag and plaque were presented to the Coors Brewing team at the recognition ceremony recently held at the site.

"Coors Brewing is a true leader in employee safety and health, especially in the grain processing industry," said Brad Baptiste, OSHA regional VPP manager in Denver. "We are very fortunate to have high-quality workplaces such as Coors in our region. Achieving OSHA VPP star status is a reflection of hard work, commitment, and a sincere focus on workplace safety and health excellence."

Noteworthy aspects of the site's safety and health program include engineered fall-protection systems for employees, accessing rolling stock, and extremely effective dust control systems.

VPP offers employers a unique opportunity to move beyond traditional safety programs by recognizing participants that successfully incorporate comprehensive safety and health programs into their total management systems. The VPP program is open to deserving employers in any industry.

Requirements for application to VPP, which has more than 2,000 sites in the country, include a high degree of management support and employee involvement, a high-quality worksite hazard analysis, hazard prevention and control programs, and comprehensive safety and health training for all employees. Each of these elements must be effective and in operation for at least one year before applying to join the program.

OSHA Forms Partnership to Protect Employees During Construction of New Pittsburgh Penguins’ Arena

Employees involved in the construction of the new Pittsburgh Penguins arena will be safer thanks to a new partnership formed between OSHA and P.J. Dick/Hunt JV. OSHA and P.J. Dick/Hunt JV formalized the partnership at an August 12 ceremony.

The new ice hockey and multipurpose arena will serve as home to the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. The facility will seat approximately 18,500 people, with the project estimated to cost approximately $290 million.

Major partnership goals are to encourage cooperation between OSHA and P.J. Dick/Hunt JV and to foster a safe work environment at the arena construction project and reduce the DART rate (cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction) by at least 3% annually. The partnership requires effective safety and health management systems for contractors working at the site.

OSHA's Strategic Partnership Program is part of the ongoing efforts to improve the safety and health of employees through cooperative relationships with groups including trade associations, labor organizations, employers, and employees. More than 1.4 million employees and more than 26,000 employers across the United States have participated with OSHA in more than 530 strategic partnerships since the program began in 1998.

OSHA has improved workplace safety and health over the past 37 years. This success is reflected in the latest data (2006), which shows the lowest national injury and illness incidence rate that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has ever recorded. OSHA will continue to work diligently to focus its resources where they will have the most impact in assuring that every working man and woman returns home safely every day.

Latest OSHA Resources Focus on Metal Scrap Recycling and Hazardous Waste Operations

The document offers ways to recognize and manage the hazards associated with exposure to various metals and processing chemicals and with related processes and equipment used in metal scrap recycling operations. It also discusses the steps an employer must take to protect the health and safety of employees in these environments.

NSC to Host Webinars on Whistleblower Protection, Recordkeeping, and Drug Awareness

The featured speaker is Nilgun Tolek, director of the Office of Investigative Assistance in OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs. 

Illinois Safety and Health Day Aims to Protect Employees

The conference will feature more than 40 sessions focusing on hazard recognition, fall protection, machine guarding, controlling explosive dust, overhead cranes, and hoists, just to name a few. In concert with this event, OSHA is cosponsoring the Second Annual SHARP/VPP Conference, Sept. 17–18. This activity is targeted towards companies interested in achieving safety excellence through OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) or Illinois Consultation's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

Tips for Mechanical Saw Safety

Each year in American workplaces, powered portable and stationary mechanical saws are responsible for thousands of injuries serious enough to require medical attention. Most of these injuries occur because the saw operator is not adequately trained, or the saw blade is insufficiently protected. Using properly guarded blades and appropriate protective equipment, such as safety goggles, will greatly reduce the risk of safety and health hazards when working with saws.

Here are a few recommendations from OSHA:

  • Keep hands and other body parts away from the line along which the saw will cut.
  • When using a table saw, always guard the portion of the blade below the table.
  • Keep saw blades in good condition to prevent the saw from throwing wood chips, splinters, and broken saw teeth.
  • Always guard the saw's power transmission apparatus.

National Office Exhibit Travels to Midwest and California

 This conference is considered the world's largest safety, health, and environmental event where attendees can improve their skills and remain updated on the latest trends.

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