OSHA to Review Methylene Chloride Standard

July 16, 2007

 In 1997, OSHA promulgated the standard to protect workers from occupational exposure to methylene chloride. The purpose of this review is to determine whether there are ways to modify this standard to reduce regulatory burden on small business and to improve its effectiveness. 


OSHA Publishes Guide to Help Marine Terminal Crane Operators


OSHA has published a new fact sheet to improve crane operation safety in marine terminals.

"Depending on a particular operation, employees under the crane or aboard ship may need to communicate with the crane operator," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "OSHA believes that employers and employees who use radio communication between those working on the ground, on a ship, and in the crane will result in fewer accidents and greater productivity."

The use of radio communication by the crane operators and longshore personnel can reduce the risk of injury and property damage because the crane operators will no longer need to rely on their line of sight or hand signals from longshoremen to move cargo safely and accurately.


OSHA Cites Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. $47,600 for Alleged Safety and Health Violations


OSHA has cited Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. and proposed penalties totaling $47,600 for allegedly failing to protect employees from hazardous working conditions.

OSHA issued citations to Patterson-UTI alleging one serious, two repeat and one other-than-serious violation following an investigation that began February 7 at the company's Cheyenne, Okla., worksite. The company has 5,800 employees nationwide, with 28 located in Cheyenne. Patterson-UTI conducts various aspects of oil and gas well drilling.

"Health and safety standards must be strictly adhered to in order to protect employees," said James Brown, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City.

A serious citation was issued for failure to provide employees with insulated tools. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Repeat violations include failure to provide training for employees working on or around energized circuits and equipment and failure to de-energize electrical live parts prior to employees working on them. Repeat violations are issued when an employer has previously been cited for the same or a substantially similar violation that has become a final order.

An other-than-serious citation was issued for failure to provide adequate signage indicating high voltage hazards. Other-than-serious violations are issued when a violation has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious in nature.


OSHA Proposes $41,400 in Penalties against Columbia Recycling for 11 Serious Violations


OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $41,400 against Columbia Recycling Corp. for 11 serious safety violations at its plant in Dalton, Ga. In January 2007, a fire at this location resulted in the death of one employee and serious injuries to two other employees.

Columbia Recycling employs 288 people to manufacture conveyor belt material from recycled textile remnants.

"We found that the employer was not enforcing safety rules which could save lives," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office.

Inspectors found a number of hazards that contributed to an unsafe working environment, including fall hazards, blocked fire exits, unclean and disorderly passageways, materials blocking the line of sight to emergency exits, materials blocking access to electrical equipment and exposed electrical wiring. No written emergency plan was prepared or available in case of a fire.

Other violations included liquid propane gas tanks that could be struck by vehicles, employees operating forklifts without formal training, and no written certification of forklift operators' training.

OSHA Issues Quincy Casting Inc. $220,620 in Proposed Fines for Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has proposed $220,620 in fines against Quincy Castings Inc. for alleged multiple willful, serious, and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards.

OSHA discovered the violations at the iron foundry business, which employs 80 people, through an investigation under the agency's Site-Specific Targeting Initiative, which targets the nation's most hazardous workplaces based on their histories of having high numbers of injury and illness cases.

"Iron foundries are potentially dangerous workplaces," said Jule Hovi, director of OSHA's area office in Toledo, Ohio. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face close scrutiny by OSHA."

OSHA has issued citations for three willful, 24 serious, and four repeat violations. The willful citations allege failure to provide guarding around sand preparation machinery to protect employees from rotating equipment, improperly regulating compressed air used for cleaning, and failure to have adequate engineering controls for overexposures to crystalline silica, thus overexposing multiple employees.

The serious safety citations include alleged failure to use flame retardant clothing and protective gear while pouring molten metal, a lack of capacity markings on pouring ladles and spreader bars, absence of safety latches from hoist hooks, lack of machine lockout procedures to prevent accidental start-ups of equipment, failure to remove a defective forklift from service, a lack of functioning brakes on and daily inspections of a bridge crane, and blocked fire exits.

The serious health citations include alleged failure to provide medical surveillance for employees overexposed to crystalline silica; failure to have an effective respiratory protection and evaluation program; failure to provide proper respirator training, failure to properly fit employees for respirators; and allowing employees to have facial hair, which interferes with the sealing of respirators.

The four alleged repeat violations are for failing to apply lockout devices, not properly training employees on lockout procedures, unguarded pinch point hazards and a defective fire exit sign.

OSHA opened its latest investigation of Quincy Castings Inc. in January 2007. The agency previously had inspected the company on 13 occasions since 1979, issuing a total of 80 citations.

OSHA's mission is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by preventing injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The agency has a vigorous enforcement program, having conducted more than 38,000 inspections last year and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last seven years. In fiscal year 2006, OSHA found nearly 84,000 violations of its standards and regulations.


OSHA Forms Safety Alliance with Hispanic Contractors Association to Protect Alabama Construction Employees


OSHA has formed an alliance with Asociacion Contratistas Hispanos LLC to protect Alabama construction employees from industry hazards.

OSHA's Birmingham Area Office and the association have signed an agreement to develop training and education programs focused on trenching operations, proper use of scaffolding, and handling of chemicals. The goal is to reduce the number of injuries caused by these activities, including falls and electrical hazards, in the construction industry.

"Over the years, OSHA has investigated fatal incidents associated with these operations in Alabama," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "Training, education, and the use of safe work practices could have prevented these tragedies."

Materials and programs developed by the alliance will be produced in both Spanish and English.

OSHA currently has 468 alliances throughout the nation with organizations committed to fostering safety and health in the workplace. For more information, contact OSHA's Birmingham Area Office at 950 22nd St., Room 1050; telephone 205-731-1534.


OSHA Cites Lorain, Ohio, Steel Mill for Safety and Health Violations, Proposing $163,000 in Penalties


OSHA has proposed $163,000 in fines against Republic Engineered Products Inc. of Lorain, Ohio, for alleged multiple willful, serious and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards.

OSHA opened an investigation following the death of an employee in January and later expanded it to cover the entire facility. As a result, OSHA issued one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $70,000, alleging that the company failed to protect all open-sided floors and work platforms from potential fall hazards.

The agency issued citations for 16 serious violations with proposed penalties of $43,000 covering a variety of concerns, including machine guarding and energy lockout hazards, as well as training and health monitoring deficiencies.

Two repeat violations, based on citations issued and affirmed in 2006 and previously corrected by the employer, covered the failure to lock out hydraulic and electrical energy when necessary. Proposed penalties total $50,000.

The Republic Engineered Products Inc. mill in Lorain is engaged in the melting of scrap metal and metal pellets into molten steel to manufacture rolled steel.

OSHA has conducted inspections at the site multiple times with citations covering many of the same issues, particularly the failure to ensure that lockout procedures are developed and followed.


OSHA Forms Safety Alliance with Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Massachusetts


Enhancing safety and health for the Bay State's plumbing, heating, and cooling contractors and their employees is the goal of a new alliance between OSHA and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Massachusetts (PHCC of MA).

Under the alliance, OSHA's three Massachusetts area offices will work with PHCC of MA to develop safety and health training and education programs for PHCC of MA members. Training will focus on reducing and preventing exposure to hazards associated with falls, electricity, lead, and being struck by or caught in or between machinery.

OSHA and PHCC of MA also will share information on best practices and effective approaches to workplace safety and health, and promote and encourage PHCC of MA members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs, including its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), safety and health consultation, and the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

The alliance agreement was signed by OSHA Area Directors Brenda Gordon (Braintree), Mary Hoye (Springfield) and Francis Pagliuca (Methuen) and by PHCC of MA Executive Director Thomas Theroux. The Braintree-based PHCC of MA is a statewide organization of plumbing, heating, and cooling contractors. For information about this and other OSHA alliances and partnerships in New England, contact OSHA's Boston Regional Office at (617) 565-9860.


OSHA Cites Tyson Foods for Safety and Health Violations, Proposes Penalties Totaling $339,500


OSHA has cited Tyson Foods Inc. in Noel, Mo., for serious, willful, repeat and other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $339,500.

OSHA began an inspection January 9 as part of its Site-Specific Targeting Program. As a result, the agency is issuing $146,000 in proposed penalties for 46 serious violations, $55,000 for one willful violation, $137,500 for eight repeat violations and $1,000 for four other-than-serious violations.

"Employers must provide a safe and healthful working environment and ensure that all employees are protected from hazardous conditions," said Charles E. Adkins, CIH, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City. "This employer was well aware of federal standards to protect employees from the hazards found during inspection, yet did not comply with them."

The alleged serious violations address a lack of exhaust duct grease filters and inspections; floors not maintained in a clean and dry condition; unguarded walking/working surfaces above four feet; obstructed exits; exit routes inadequately illuminated and one adjacent to a high-hazard area; unavailable and underdeveloped energy control procedures; an incomplete annual inspection not understood by employees; and lack of training.

Serious violations also were noted for a lack of identification tags on slings; broken oxygen gauges; storage of incompatible chemicals; a lack of hazard communication labeling and training; aisles too small for forklift traffic; powered industrial trucks not being inspected prior to use and used in a damaged condition; an unguarded conveyor belt system; unguarded belts and pulleys; flash burn from welding rays; exposed, energized electrical wiring; and hazards associated with process safety management.

The alleged repeat violations include unsafe stacking of material; unguarded moving parts of machinery and equipment; unguarded revolving drum ends; exposed, energized electrical wiring; not providing a distinctive alarm for an ammonia release; not providing quick drench/eyewash stations in needed areas; containers of hazardous chemicals lacking labels displaying appropriate chemical identities and hazard warnings; and not providing effective hazard communication training.

The alleged willful violation addresses not providing procedures for emergency shutdown and startup following an emergency shutdown of the process system. The other-than-serious violations include exit doors not being marked; recordkeeping; medical evaluation; and inaccessible material safety data sheets.

Safety News Links