OSHA to Follow-Up on Ergonomic Hazards

April 16, 2007

OSHA has committed to evaluating the effect of hazard alert letters issued for ergonomic hazards in a workplace. This evaluation will be conducted by the area offices. Employers receiving ergonomic hazard alert letters (EHALs) will be asked to provide information on progress in addressing the hazards outlined in the EHAL. 

Asbestos Abatement Contractor Fined $57,000


Aapex Environmental Services Inc. of Liverpool, N.Y faces $57,000 in proposed fines from OSHA for exposing employees to asbestos-related health hazards during an asbestos removal project at the Agway Building in Dewitt, N.Y.

The company was cited for a total of six alleged willful and serious violations of occupational health standards following an OSHA inspection begun Nov. 13, 2006.

"Most employers today are well aware of the hazards posed by asbestos, yet this employer chose to bypass employee health and safety at this project by ignoring basic safeguards required by law," said Chris R. Adams, director of OSHA's Syracuse Area Office.

OSHA's inspection found that required monitoring of employees' exposure to asbestos was not conducted on several occasions even though monitoring records alleged that it had been done. This finding resulted in the issuance of one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $42,000. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer commits a violation with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The inspection also found that Aapex failed to collect short-term air sampling, keep accurate exposure monitoring records, notify employees of sampling results, train employees to properly establish an asbestos containment system, and prevent asbestos contaminated water from leaking from an enclosed work area. These conditions resulted in the issuance of five serious citations, carrying $15,000 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a serious violation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Adams explained that continued exposure to asbestos can eventually result in serious diseases of the lungs and other organs. 

OSHA Cites Dump Truck Trailer Manufacturer for Health and Safety Violations


OSHA has proposed $300,600 in fines against Dierzen-Kewanee Heavy Industries Ltd. for alleged multiple willful, serious, and repeat violations of federal workplace health and safety standards.

OSHA opened an investigation in October 2006 after the company failed to respond to OSHA requests seeking abatement information for two previous inspections. Of the 32 citations issued in the original inspection, fewer than half were found to have been corrected during the follow-up inspection.

"Abatement of hazards is the right thing to do for working men and women," said Nick Walters, OSHA's area director in Peoria, Ill. "Employers who neglect that responsibility can expect follow-up inspections. OSHA will do all it can to find safety and health hazards in the workplace and insist they be corrected."

OSHA issued eight willful, three serious, 13 repeat, and two other-than-serious citations alleging that the company failed to adequately train employees on safe application, usage, and removal of energy control devices; provide proper operation guarding around machinery and open-sided floors and platforms; and develop and document procedures for the control of hazardous energy.

Dierzen-Kewanee also was cited for electrical issues, lack of high-temperature and carbon monoxide alarms on compressors, inadequate training and use of respirator protection, lack of annual maintenance checks for portable fire extinguishers, unsafe use and improper training for industrial truck operation, lack of a written hazard communication program, and lack of training for handling hazardous chemicals.

OSHA has conducted inspections at Dierzen-owned companies 10 times since 1994. Those inspections have resulted in 70 citations including one failure to abate, three repeat, 55 serious, and 18 other-than-serious violations.

OSHA Fines Premium Protein Products of Hastings $180,900 for 37 Safety and Health Violations


OSHA has cited Premium Protein Products of Hastings, Neb., for 37 alleged safety and health violations and proposed penalties totaling $180,900.

OSHA opened a health inspection of the meat processing facility in October 2006 after receiving information alleging violations of OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard, as well as powered industrial truck hazards. A referral from the investigating compliance officer resulted in the safety inspection.

“Employers must provide a safe and healthful working environment and ensure that all employees are protected from hazardous conditions,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “This employer is well aware of the standards that protect employees from the hazards we found during our inspection, yet did not comply with them.”

One alleged willful health citation is for the employer’s failure to inspect and test the two anhydrous ammonia systems within the facility, and to correct deficiencies in the systems.

Sixteen alleged serious health violations address hazards including PSM deficiencies; deficiencies with permits required for confined spaces; failure to develop and implement an emergency action plan; failure to provide refresher training for hazardous material technicians; failure to provide personal protective equipment; failure to provide a respiratory protection program; and failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program.

Nineteen alleged serious safety violations address hazards associated with machine guarding deficiencies; failure to use seatbelts on powered industrial trucks; failure to train powered industrial truck operators; failure to provide fall protection; failure to provide a safe working surface; failure to provide adequate lockout/tagout procedures; failure to perform periodic inspections of the lockout/tagout program; failure to replace damaged and exposed welding leads; and various electrical deficiencies.

One alleged other-than-serious health violation addresses failure to properly record injuries and illnesses.

OSHA Unites with MAST to Help Southern Tier's Manufacturers Excel in Workplace Safety and Health


Helping Southern Tier manufacturers provide safer and healthier workplaces for their employees is the goal of a new alliance between OSHA and the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST), which is based in Jamestown, N.Y.

OSHA and MAST jointly will provide small businesses with information, guidance, and access to training resources, with an emphasis on reducing hazards typically encountered in a manufacturing environment. Presentations will include OSHA's 10-hour general industry safety and health course, along with other programs on establishing and implementing effective safety and health management systems.

"An effective safety and health management system is a key tool for safeguarding employees," said Patricia K. Clark, OSHA's regional administrator in Manhattan. "Establishing such a system enables workers and management to anticipate, identify, and eliminate occupational hazards before employees get hurt."

This alliance will guide small businesses toward acceptance into OSHA's elite Voluntary Protection Programs by helping them improve their existing safety and health programs. OSHA and MAST will share best practices and effective approaches, and encourage MAST member worksites to build relationships with OSHA and the state of New York's safety consultation service to address safety and health issues.

"Through this alliance, OSHA is providing Southern Tier manufacturers an opportunity to become among the best of the best when it comes to workplace safety and health," said Arthur Dube, director of OSHA's area office in Buffalo.

The alliance was signed April 3 by MAST Executive Director Todd Jay Tranum and by OSHA's Patricia K. Clark and Arthur Dube. For information about this and other OSHA alliances and partnerships in western New York, contact the compliance assistance specialist in OSHA's Buffalo Area Office at (716) 551-3053.

Central Transport Inc. Fined $109,500 by OSHA for Safety Hazards


A Seekonk, Mass., freight terminal faces $109,500 in proposed fines from OSHA. Central Transport Inc., which is headquartered in Warren, Mich., was cited for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection of the 1761 Fall River Ave. terminal begun Oct. 12, 2006.

OSHA’s inspection identified several hazards for which the company had previously been cited at other Central Transport locations. These included fall hazards from unguarded loading docks, lack of eye and face protection for employees filling batteries, blocked access to an emergency eyewash station located next to a battery charging area, no training in fire extinguisher use and forklift operations, failing to inspect forklifts for defects, and failure to remove defective forklifts from service. As a result, the company was issued six repeat citations, carrying $102,500 in proposed fines.

“These citations focus on hazardous conditions that could result in burns, falls, crushing and other serious injuries or even death if left uncorrected,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for southeastern Massachusetts. “The size of the fines reflects this company’s history of violations at other sites. It’s imperative that it effectively and expeditiously address these issues in all of its workplaces.”

OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final. In this case, the repeat citations stem from prior violations in 2005 and 2006 at company terminals in Cheshire, Conn., Peoria Heights, Ill., Du Bois, Pa., and York, Pa.

The company also was issued four serious citations, with $7,000 in proposed fines, for lack of an emergency response plan, improper distribution of fire extinguishers, improperly installed electrical wiring, and allowing pigeon guano to accumulate on the terminal floor and other surfaces.

OSHA Issues Proposed Rule on Explosives


. The proposed rule aims to enhance the protections provided to employees working in the manufacturing, storage, sale, transportation, handling, and use of explosives. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed standard until June 13.

"OSHA's standard has been largely unchanged since the agency adopted it in 1971," said OSHA Administrator Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., "and it is important that we update our standards so they reflect advances in technology and work processes that have increased workplace safety."

The proposal updates and clarifies the regulatory language, revises the standard to be consistent with other federal regulations, incorporates updated consensus standards, and provides the regulated community with greater compliance flexibility.

Significant changes in the proposed rule include updating the definition of explosives so it is consistent with the Department of Transportation (DOT) definition; incorporating the DOT/United Nations-based classification system in the explosives definition; updating references to DOT regulations; requiring package labels to be in accordance with OSHA's Hazard Communication standard and to use the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS); eliminating storage magazine requirements because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has adopted and enforces such regulations; and adding provisions to ensure that employees are properly trained in hazard recognition and safe work practices.

You can submit comments on the proposed rule by June 13, 2007  the Federal eRulemaking Portal; or by sending three copies to the OSHA Docket Office, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20210; telephone (202) 693-2350; or by FAX to (202) 693-1648. Comments must include the agency name and the Docket Number this rulemaking, Docket No. OSHA-2007-0032. See the Federal Register notice for more information on submitting comments.

OSHA Cites Crested Butte Ski Resort $67,500 for Violations of Workplace Safety and Health Standards


OSHA cited Crested Butte LLC, owner of the Crested Butte Ski Resort, for alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards. The company is being cited for one alleged willful violation and one other-than-serious violation, with proposed penalties totaling $67,500.

OSHA's area office in Englewood, Colo., conducted an inspection of Crested Butte LLC in January 2007 following a fatal accident in which an employee was crushed by a snowcat during slope grooming operations on the ski mountain.

"Crested Butte LLC failed to protect its employees from known hazards which contributed to the death of an employee engaged in snowcat operations," said John Healy, OSHA's area director in Englewood. "OSHA will ensure that this employer takes responsibility to correct safety and health hazards. All employers should evaluate their workplaces to ensure employees are operating safe equipment."

The alleged willful violation involves failure to properly maintain the snowcats used to groom ski slopes. Safety switches in the door and armrest designed to automatically activate the braking system had been by-passed. A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The alleged other-than-serious violation is associated with the employer's failure to report the accident to OSHA within eight hours.

OSHA and NIOSH Safety and Health Information Bulletin Helps Prevent Needle Stick Injuries


OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention jointly have published a Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) designed to help protect surgical personnel from needle stick injuries while using suture needles.

“Surgical personnel are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from injuries caused by sharp surgical instruments,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. “We strongly encourage the use of blunt-tip suture needles when feasible and appropriate to reduce this risk.”

“The effectiveness of blunt-tip suture needles for preventing needle stick injuries has been widely reported,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are pleased to partner with OSHA in offering guidance to protect the safety and health of medical professionals.”

 It also emphasizes OSHA’s requirement to use appropriate, available, and effective safer medical devices.

Sharp-tip suture needles are the leading source of penetrating injuries to surgical personnel, causing 51 to 71% of these incidents. These injuries potentially expose staff and patients to bloodborne pathogens.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) issued a statement in 2005 supporting the use of blunt-tip suture needles where clinically appropriate. This statement has been endorsed by the six organizations that, along with the ACS, make up the Council on Surgical and Perioperative Safety.

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