In the first year of a new reporting requirement, employers notified OSHA of more than 10,000 severe work-related injuries, creating the opportunity for the agency to work with employers to eliminate hazards and protect other workers.
Since January 1, 2015, employers have been required to report any severe work-related injury—defined as a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye—within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force.
In the first full year of the program, employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations. In a majority of those cases, OSHA responded by working with the employer to identify and eliminate hazards, rather than conducting a worksite inspection.
“The result is safer workplaces for thousands of workers.”
OSHA found some employers exceeded the agency’s requirements to protect workers from future incidents. Unfortunately, a few responded with callous disregard. One manufacturer tried to hide an entire room full of machinery from OSHA inspectors.
The evaluation of 2015 results, which breaks out the top 25 reporting industries, notes that by instituting the requirement, the agency can better target resources where needed, and engage employers in high-hazard industries to identify and eliminate hazards. The evaluation finds the reporting requirement is meeting both goals.
“OSHA will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness,” Dr. Michaels wrote in the report. “We are also seeking new ways to make sure that small employers know about their reporting obligations and the resources available to them.”
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How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)
OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on safety data sheets.
Environmental Resource Center is offering live online training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented.
Federal Transit Administration Announces Final Rule Strengthening State Safety Oversight of Rail Transit Systems
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced a final rule that significantly strengthens state safety oversight and enforcement authority to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents on rail transit systems.
“With the more rigorous and effective state safety oversight required by this final rule and federal law, transit systems across the nation will receive greater safety oversight with the aim of improving safety for passengers and transit system employees,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Greater investigatory and enforcement power combined with better training will give state safety oversight watchdogs sharper teeth to help rail transit agencies keep their systems safe.”
The final rule will officially be published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2016, and will take effect 30 days after publication. It applies to States where a rail transit system operates, and carries out several explicit Federal statutory requirements, including that a State must submit its State Safety Oversight (SSO) program to FTA for certification and that the designated SSO Agency must have financial and legal independence from the rail transit agencies it oversees.
In addition, the final rule requires that a State must ensure that the SSO Agency adopts and enforces relevant Federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority, and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size, and complexity of the rail transit systems within its jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO Agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must have proper training and certification.
“FTA has delivered exactly what Congress authorized: a stronger, more robust state safety oversight program with increased enforcement tools,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “States should act swiftly to come into compliance to provide a higher level of safety for their rail transit system riders and workers.”
Within three years of the effective date of this final rule, States with an operating rail transit system must have a SSO program certified by FTA. FTA has already certified two of the affected 30 States as being compliant: California and Massachusetts. Most of the remaining 28 States have also already taken some actions toward compliance with these critical safety requirements.
To assist in this effort, Congress has authorized a stable source of funds to the States for their use in meeting these new safety oversight obligations. The existing Federal SSO program regulations will remain in effect during the transition period and then be rescinded.
If a State is non-compliant after the three-year period, FTA may withhold Federal funds until its SSO program is certified. If a State fails to establish an SSO program, FTA is prohibited by law from obligating any Federal financial assistance to any entity in that state otherwise eligible to receive FTA program funding.
All four, plus other related rulemaking actions, will collectively establish the regulatory framework needed to implement and strengthen new and existing FTA safety oversight and enforcement authorities.
OSHA Publishes Interim Final Rule for Handling Retaliation Complaints from Workers in the Automotive Industry
OSHA invites the public to submit comments on the interim final rule.
MAP-21, enacted July 6, 2012, protects workers in automobile manufacturing, part supplies, and car dealerships who have been discharged or otherwise retaliated against for providing information concerning motor vehicle defects or violations of motor vehicle safety standards to their employer or the Secretary of Transportation.
The deadline for comments is May 16, 2016.
Nearly 8 Percent of Nebraska Meat Processing Workers Hurt on the Job
Nebraska workers in the meat processing industry are more likely to be injured on the job, than many others employed in the Husker state.
"The local emphasis program on the meat processing industry provides outreach and education to assist employers to eliminate hazardous working conditions," said Jeff Funke, OSHA area director in Omaha. "Workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths are always preventable when employers implement a safety and health program focused on hazard identification, corrective actions and employee training."
Musculoskeletal disorders are among the most preventable injuries in the meat processing industry. Employees can suffer cumulative trauma injuries in their joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons, and structures resulting from repetitive actions and motions. OSHA is focused on reducing the negative effects of these degenerative diseases and will be evaluating ergonomic stressors as part of the local emphasis program.
OSHA's regional and/or area offices implement regional and local emphasis programs as strategic enforcement efforts to reduce injuries in high-risk industries. Each program begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations, and workers. OSHA encourages employers to use this period to bring their facilities into compliance with federal safety and health standards, if they are not already.
This emphasis program ends September 30, 2016, unless extended. The Omaha area OSHA office will continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations, amputations, loss of an eye, and fatalities.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742). Additional information related to the emphasis program is available by contacting OSHA's Omaha Office at 402-553-0171.
OSHA Emphasizes Need to Reduce Illness, Injury Among Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri Poultry Processors
Poultry workers are twice as likely to suffer serious injuries and six times more likely to get sick on the job than other private sector workers, facts that are leading federal safety and health inspectors in three Midwestern states to act to reduce musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic stressors among at-risk workers.
"This region-wide emphasis program provides outreach and education to assist poultry processing industry employers to eliminate injuries, illnesses, and hazards that can harm workers. Many of these workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths are preventable when employers train workers and maintain a safe and healthy work environment," said Marcia Drumm, regional administrator for OSHA. "The program will also re-direct OSHA's resources and increase the probability of inspections at establishments in the poultry processing industry."
Regional and local emphasis programs are enforcement strategies designed to address high-risk industries. OSHA's regional and/or area offices implement the programs. Each begins with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach activities to share safety and health information with employers, associations, and workers. OSHA encourages employers to use this time as an opportunity to bring their facilities into compliance with federal safety and health standards, if they are not already.
Hazards related to lifting and other ergonomic stressors will also be evaluated.
This three-state emphasis program ends September 30, 2016, unless extended. OSHA area offices will continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations, and fatalities.
CHSWC Releases 2015 Annual Report on California’s Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation Systems
The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) has released its twenty-first Annual Report of its activities to improve vital programs affecting nearly all Californians. The 2015 Annual Report presents information about the health and safety and workers’ compensation systems in California and makes recommendations to improve their operations.
CHSWC, created by the workers' compensation reform legislation of 1993, is charged with examining the health and safety and workers' compensation systems in California and recommending administrative or legislative modifications to improve its operations.
Information may also be obtained by writing to CHSWC at 1515 Clay Street, 17th floor, Oakland, CA 94612; by calling 510-622-3959; by faxing a request to 510-286-0499;
Lunda Construction Faces $105,000 Fine After Worker Fatality
An 18-year-old man lost his life just three months after starting work for Lunda Construction Company. The carpenter's apprentice was mixing concrete for the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge resurfacing project when a rough-terrain forklift struck and killed him. The bridge spans St. Louis Bay between Superior and Duluth, Minnesota. Since 2012, three workers have died while working on Lunda highway construction projects.
OSHA investigators found the highway construction company allowed an employee to operate a forklift even though he had a physical restriction specifying no use of his right hand and lacked adequate training.
"This young man was fresh out of high school with a lifetime ahead of him," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "His family and friends are left with pain and grief because this man's employer failed to keep him and his co-workers safe. Lunda has a dismal safety record. OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect Lunda sites until the company does the right thing and makes worker safety a priority on its job sites."
- Workers had no specific training on a rough-terrain forklift
- Workers lacked training to recognize hazards and unsafe conditions while operating vehicles
- Vehicles were not inspected prior to being placed in service
- Workers drove vehicles at unsafe speeds and too close to employees standing in front of fixed objects
Proposed penalties total $105,000.
Trench Collapse Leads to Worker Fatality
For a 26-year-old Ohio construction worker, his new job turned out to be his last. Just a month after starting work for Stauffer Site Services, LLC, a nearly 10-foot deep trench collapsed and buried him as he worked installing a sewer line. The man died two days later due to the injuries he suffered.
Research shows that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 lb, about the weight of small automobile. Trenching and excavation are among the most dangerous construction activities, and cave-ins are often lethal to workers crushed or suffocated by thousands of pounds of soil and rock.
"This tragic death is a reminder of just how quickly an unprotected trench can become a death trap as a worker is buried under thousands of pounds of soil," said Ken Montgomery, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "OSHA's trenching standards require that every trench deeper than 5 feet must have cave-in protection."
While investigating the fatality OSHA found:
- Employees were not trained in the recognition of trench hazards
- No means of access or egress was provide within 25 feet of the work area
- Worksite inspections were not made by a competent person
Proposed penalties total $91,000.
Duffy Grain Inc. Fined $122,500 for Exposing Workers to Engulfment Hazards
Two to three seconds, that is how quickly flowing grain can trap a worker in a grain storage bin. Sixty seconds later, hundreds of pounds of grain can submerge and smother them. When it happens, more than half the time workers die by suffocation.
Federal safety investigators found workers faced with this and other dangers at Duffy Grain's Columbus, Wisconsin, facility when they visited the site in September 2015. They observed workers at risk of being engulfed in grain and entangled by operating augers as they cleaned storage bins.
"Sending workers into a grain bin with the auger moving is extremely dangerous," said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA's area director in Madison. "Duffy Grain knows the precautions that needed to be taken to protect its workers, but failed in their responsibility to follow them. Someone's life and well-being should never be the cost of doing business."
The program focuses on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosions, and electrocution hazards.
- Moving grain hazards inside bins
- The sweep auger and conveyer were operating when employees entered bins
- Respiratory hazards
- Body harnesses with lifelines were not provided when employees entered grain bins.
- Equipment suitable for grain bin rescue was not available
- Atmosphere inside of grain bins for not tested for air quality
After at least 26 U.S. workers died in grain bin entrapments in 2010—the highest number ever recorded—OSHA focused its enforcement efforts on the grain and feed industry's six major danger areas. The agency also published information on common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin-entry techniques, sweep auger use, and many other grain-related topics.
Florida Walmart Supercenter Violates Corporate-Wide Safety Agreement, Fined $118,800
In its agreement with OSHA, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., allows the agency to conduct health-monitoring inspections to protect company employees from workplace hazards. One of the world's largest retailers, Walmart has store locations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and 27 countries.
In an inspection of the Walmart Supercenter on Mobile Highway, in Pensacola, Florida, OSHA officials found serious health violations. Proposed penalties total $118,800.
The repeated citations relate to the employer not:
The serious citations relate to the employer's failure to:
- Protect them from exposure to shock and burn hazards
"The blood-borne pathogen and safe access violations were previously cited and also covered in the settlement agreement, yet employees are still being exposed to these hazards," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in the Jacksonville Office. "It is very frustrating to see that these hazards continue to exist and is a clear indication management is not actively involved in the safety and health program."
Diaz Roofing Continually Risks Workers’ Safety
Some may argue the belief that the number "13" brings misfortune is just superstition, but there is no doubt that fall safety violations by a Wisconsin roofing contractor found in 13 inspections in 10 years are a tragedy waiting to happen.
On 13 occasions since 2005, OSHA inspectors have found Diaz Roofing, LLC, failed to protect its workers from fall hazards.
In its most recent inspection, OSHA investigators observed eight employees on September 17, 2015, at a residential roofing work site on Blaine Street without fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall prevention devices. The workers were at risk of falls of more than 10 feet.
"Diaz Roofing continues to ignore OSHA standards and is failing to protect its employees on the job," said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA's area director in Madison. "OSHA will continue to monitor this employer for compliance, and do everything in its power to keep workers safely out of life-threatening working conditions."
In addition, employees were using nail guns without eye protection, and OSHA found the company failed to maintain injury and illness logs.
Prior to this inspection, OSHA had inspected Diaz Roofing 12 times since 2005 for exposing workers to fall hazards at Wisconsin construction sites.
The page provides fact sheets, posters and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.
ALSS Recycling Inc. Fined $84,000 for Failing to Correct Previous Violations
The inspection was initiated as a follow-up to a previous assessment at the facility in June 2015.
Proposed penalties total $84,000.
"ALSS Recycling did not fulfill its requirement to ensure the hazards that were cited in the previous inspection were corrected," said Ramona Morris, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "We are expecting management to take immediate action to permanently correct the hazards in order to protect its employees."
South Progress LLC Exposes Workers to Dangerous Falls
Inspectors with OSHA observed employees doing framing work without fall protection at the Watersound residential community.
Proposed penalties total $70,000.
The agency has issued South Progress repeat citations for a lack of fall protection multiple times at different Florida work sites since December 2013.
"South Progress has a history of violating OSHA's fall standards and is fully aware of the dangers of working at elevated heights without proper protection," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "When your business model places production over safety, eventually it will result in an employee being severely injured or killed."
CS Truck & Trailer Repair Services Inc. Fined $70,000 for Exposing Workers to Blocked Exits, Falls, and Other Hazards
The employer received serious violations for the following hazards:
- Not developing or implementing a written hazard communication program
- Allowing workers to use broken and damaged ladders
- Blocking emergency exits with vehicle parts and other debris
Proposed penalties total $70,000.
"Employers must not wait for an OSHA inspection to identify the hazards that expose their employees to serious injury or worse, said William Fulcher, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-East Office. "Good business means implementing preventive programs and systems to ensure such hazards are identified and corrected as part of the day-to-day operations."
Arctic Glacier U.S.A. Exposes Employees to Serious Chemical, Electrical, and Exit Hazards
To make ice products at Arctic Glacier U.S.A., Inc.'s, Hicksville, New York, plant, the company uses large amounts of anhydrous ammonia in the plant's refrigeration system. When working with large amounts of hazardous chemicals such as ammonia, an employer must have a comprehensive and effective program in place for their safe management and the protection of its workers.
Uncorrected, these deficiencies could have serious consequences for the plant's employees.
OSHA's inspection found that the plant failed to:
- Document that equipment used in the refrigeration system complied with recognized and generally accepted engineering practices
- Conduct a pre-startup safety review following modifications to the refrigeration system
- Implement procedures for controlling an outside contractor's access to process areas
- Evaluate an outside contractor's safety and health programs
"An uncontrolled release of anhydrous ammonia can have catastrophic and lethal consequences. To prevent a tragedy, it is vital that Arctic Glacier ensure that all requirements for the safe operation and management of its refrigeration system are complete, up-to-date and effective," said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA's Long Island Area Director.
Other hazards identified during OSHA's inspection included:
- Lack of weatherproof covers on circuit breakers in wet locations
- Spliced and uninsulated power cords
- An exposed electrical switch
- Unmarked exits (OSHA cited Arctic Glacier for similar exit hazards at its Mamaroneck location in February 2013.)
BCS Manufacturing LLC Exposes Workers to Multiple Safety Hazards, Fined $53,200
Investigators from the agency's St. Louis area office responded to complaints alleging unsafe working conditions at the cabinet maker’s facility.
The agency cited the company for:
- Unsanitary conditions
- Insufficient training
"Exposing workers to dust particles and hazardous chemicals can cause long-term respiratory illness and diseases," said Bill McDonald, OSHA's area director in St. Louis. "Each year hundreds of manufacturing workers are injured on the job because employers fail to comply with OSHA's common sense safety standards."
Proposed penalties total $53,200.
Holmes Siding Contractors Violates Fall Safety Rules
Each time a worker mounts a scaffold they risk a dangerous fall, the leading causing of death in the construction industry.
Seven times since 2007, OSHA inspectors have found Holmes Siding Contractors failed to protect its workers from fall hazards.
OSHA investigators observed employees that day at an Avon residential work site exposed to falls of about 15 feet above ground as they worked on improperly constructed ladder-jack scaffolds. The workers wore no safety harnesses or had safety nets below them as required.
"The company owner, site foreman and employees participated in comprehensive scaffold training after the previous citations, so Holmes Siding Company is keenly aware of the requirements and need for fall protection," said Kim Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo. "OSHA will continue to monitor this employer for compliance, and do everything in its power to keep workers safely out of life-threatening working conditions."
OSHA also noted that employees were using nail guns without eye protection.
The page provides fact sheets, posters, and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.
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