Overall Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Lowest on Record

November 05, 2007

The rate of workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry declined in 2006 for the fourth consecutive year, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Approximately 4.1 million injuries and illnesses occurred in 2006. The number translates to a rate of 4.4 cases per 100 full-time employees, slightly less than the 4.6 rate reported last year. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said that “workplace injuries and illnesses declined 3% in 2006 over the previous year against the backdrop that overall hours worked increased (2%). The Department of Labor continues to focus on ensuring that workplace injury and illness rates continue to decline and that workers are healthy and safe on the job.”

OSHA Proposes $196,000 Fine Against Cintas Corp. Facility for 15 Safety Violations

OSHA has proposed $196,000 in penalties against Cintas Corp. for 15 safety violations following an inspection of its Mobile, Ala., facility.

"As a large, national employer with a history of OSHA inspections and citations for hazards at other facilities, we are disappointed to find so many of the same or similar hazards at this facility," said Ken Atha, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "OSHA will take aggressive action when employers show indifference to the safety and health of their employees."

OSHA has proposed four repeat violations with penalties of $112,500 for failing to develop proper energy control procedures, failing to protect employees from electrical shocks, not providing adequate machine guards, and not instituting proper machinery lockout/tagout procedures, which are intended to prevent inadvertent machine start-ups. These four conditions are substantially similar to conditions discovered in other Cintas facilities in New York in 2004 and 2005.

One willful violation with a $55,000 penalty has been proposed for a potential fall hazard to employees who periodically unjammed a conveyor. Eight serious violations with $27,500 in penalties have been proposed for unguarded pits and floor holes, a damaged electrical conduit, blocked electrical panels, unsuitable receptacles in wet or damp locations, and a broken emergency stop button. Two other-than-serious violations have been cited for failing to record a work-related injury, resulting in a $1,000 penalty, and for allowing an exit door to be partially blocked.

Over the past three years, the company has had approximately 36 inspections at various facilities by federal and state OSHA programs. OSHA issued citations for safety violations in August at Cintas plants in Tulsa, Okla., following a fatality, with a total proposed penalty of $2.78 million and in Columbus, Ohio, with a total penalty of $117,500. Cintas is the largest uniform supplier in North America, with more than 400 facilities employing more than 34,000 people. The facility in Mobile has 126 employees.

OSHA Renews Alliance With the Club Managers Association of America

OSHA and the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) have renewed their alliance, originally signed on Sept. 16, 2003, to provide CMAA members, small businesses, and others with information and training resources to help protect the safety and health of membership club employees, including non-English or limited English speaking and youth workers. Additionally, the organizations will address safety and health issues related to membership clubs' landscaping and horticultural activities.

"OSHA's four-year collaboration with CMAA has resulted in a number of successful initiatives to improve the safety of employees in the membership club industry," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "Our renewed alliance will continue to provide valuable guidance and education to increase awareness of effective safety and health programs in the workplace."

"We are delighted to renew our formal Alliance with OSHA and continue to promote healthy club work environments," said James B. Singerling, Chief Executive Officer, CMAA. "CMAA member-managed clubs employ close to 300,000 people nationwide, and these clubs recognize the value in protecting their greatest assets—their employees. We look forward to continuing the productive and positive partnership between CMAA and OSHA well into the future."

In the past year, the alliance developed 11 toolbox talks, in English and Spanish, addressing issues related to hazard communication, respiratory protection, landscaping, and horticultural activities. CMAA also supported the 2007 North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. As a professional association for managers of membership clubs, CMAA has nearly 7,000 members who operate more than 3,000 country, city, athletic, faculty, yacht, town, and military clubs. The association has more than 90 senior and student chapters and colonies in the United States and abroad.

Ergonomic Solutions for Electrical Contractors


"Employees in the electrical contracting industry have benefited greatly from information in our Ergonomics Solutions e-Tool," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "The new modules are another proactive effort to educate employees on how to improve safety and health in the workplace."

The e-Tool offers potential solutions to ergonomic hazards that electrical contractors may encounter. The Installation and Repair module describes hazards encountered by employees who often dig trenches and pull and feed wire. It includes information on potential tendon and nerve problems that may result from using hand tools such as pliers, crimpers, and side cutters. Further, the module provides solutions for helping industry professionals reduce the risks associated with electrical installation and repair.

The Prefabrication module discusses ergonomics-related hazards including heavy manual lifting, repetitive movements, and awkward or stationary positions. It lists possible solutions to reduce these hazards as they relate to various activities such as bending conduit, cutting and spooling wire, and welding and assembly tasks.

E-Tools are stand-alone, interactive, Web-based training tools on occupational safety and health topics. They utilize illustrations, graphical menus, and expert system modules, which enable the user to answer questions and receive reliable advice on how OSHA regulations apply to their work site.

OSHA Proposes $136,200 in Fines Against Gary's Grading Following Accident

OSHA has proposed penalties of $136,200 against Gary's Grading & Pipeline Co. of Monroe, Ga., for eight alleged safety violations. The inspection occurred at a company worksite in McDonough, Ga., following an incident in which an employee was injured after being struck by a rock while working in an unprotected trench.

"Trenching and excavation are among the most hazardous operations in construction, but we know how to make these operations safer—if employers will follow the rules," said Gei-Thae Breezley, director of the agency's Atlanta-East Area Office. "OSHA treats this as a serious problem, and employers who continue to ignore safety standards will face increasingly stiffer penalties."

OSHA issued three repeat safety violations with $120,000 in penalties for allowing employees to work in a trench that lacked adequate cave-in protection, did not have a means of exit within 25 feet of where employees were working, and had not been inspected by a competent person prior to employees entering after blasting. These violations are similar to ones cited by OSHA after a 2005 inspection of the company at a different site.

Inspectors issued three serious violations carrying penalties of $9,200 for hazards associated with not planning for a medical emergency in case of a serious injury, deviating from a manufacturer's installation instructions for a trench box, and not protecting employees from a trench cave-in while installing a ladder.

The company was cited for recordkeeping violations resulting in two other-than-serious violations with penalties of $7,000.

OSHA Cites C&A Metal Finishing Co. Following Workplace Fatality

OSHA has cited C&A Metal Finishing Co. for 1 alleged willful and 14 alleged serious violations of federal health and safety standards following a fatal accident at the company's facility in Sunset Hills, Mo. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $108,150.

C&A Metal Finishing Co. performs mechanical finishing to small metal parts, along with cleaning small metal parts by means of a solvent-based degreasing unit. OSHA initiated its inspection on May 10 in response to a 40-gallon spill of trichloroethylene, which resulted in the hospitalization of two employees, one of whom subsequently died.

"Our inspection revealed that C&A Metal Finishing Co. failed to take appropriate action to protect its employees," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful at all times."

The alleged willful violation was issued to the employer for failure to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The serious violations address hazards associated with a lack of load-rating signage for places with overhead storage; not developing an emergency response plan for chemical spills; not performing periodic inspections on the trichloroethylene degreasing tank; not providing personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed; failure to certify that a PPE assessment was conducted; failure to establish and maintain a respiratory protection program; not evaluating confined spaces as potential permit-required confined spaces; the lack of an eye-wash station for degreaser employees; not using electrical equipment in accordance with their listing/labeling; unused openings in electrical boxes; employee overexposure to the maximum peak and ceiling levels established for trichloroethylene and not using engineering and or administrative controls to protect employees from overexposure; and not providing hazard communication training on the physical and health hazards associated with hazardous chemicals. Serious violations are those that could result in death or serious physical harm about which the employer knew or should have known.

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