February 03, 2020
Cal/OSHA reminded employers in California to post their 2019 annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses in a visible and easily accessible area at each worksite. The Form 300A summary, which is required in all states, must be posted each year from through April 30.
Instructions and form templates are available for download from Cal/OSHA’s Record Keeping Overview
. The overview gives instructions on completing both the log (Form 300) and annual summary (Form 300A) of work-related injuries and illnesses. The annual summary must be placed in a visible and easily accessible area at each worksite. Posting helps ensure workers are aware of work-related injuries and illnesses that occurred the previous year. Current and former employees and their representatives are entitled to a copy of the summary or the log upon request.
In other states, March 2, 2020 is the Federal deadline for electronically reporting your OSHA Form 300A data for calendar year 2019. Collection will begin January 2, 2020. To determine if your facility must provide 300A data to OSHA, click here
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Desk Chairs Recalled Due to Fall and Injury Hazards
Five collections of Pier 1 upholstered swivel desk chairs have been recalled by Pier 1 due to fall and injury hazards. The chair’s legs can break, posing fall and injury hazards. The adjustable chairs have a base with five wheels and were sold in various colors. They were manufactured in China from April 2019 through September 2019. Pier 1 has received 29 reports of chair legs breaking, resulting in one minor back injury. If you have any of these chairs, you should stop using them immediately and contact Pier 1®
to receive a free repair kit, including shipping.
The following chair collections and model numbers are included in the recall:
Navy blue (Velvet ink)
Light green (Velvet eucalyptus)
Off white (Velvet dove)
Light gray (Mist)
Gray (Velvet gray)
Finer Particulate Matter (PM1) Could Increase Cardiovascular Disease Risk
In addition to harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, air pollution contains tiny particles that have been linked to health problems, including cardiovascular disease and asthma. Most studies have analyzed the potential health effects of larger-sized particulate matter (PM), such as particles less than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5
). Now, researchers report in Environmental Science & Technology Letters
that particles with diameters less than 1 μm (PM1
) are even more strongly correlated with cardiovascular disease.
To better understand air pollution, a nationwide PM1 monitoring campaign was recently performed in China. Zhaomin Dong, Maigeng Zhou and colleagues analyzed the data, which came from 65 Chinese cities, to determine if PM1exposure correlated with the number of non-accidental deaths in each city during the same time period. They found that for every 10 μg/m3 increase in PM1, there was a 0.29% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which was 21% higher than the risk related to PM2.5 (0.24%).
The finer PM1 could more easily deposit in the lungs and circulation than larger particles, which might explain the increased health risks, the researchers say.
Michigan School District Ordered to Reinstate, Pay $102,905 to Second Employee Terminated for Warning of Unsafe Conditions
OSHA has determined that the Dearborn Heights School District violated whistleblower statutes by unjustly disciplining, publicly discrediting and terminating an employee who reported unsafe working conditions to federal and state agencies. OSHA ordered the Michigan school district to reinstate the employee and pay a total of $102,905.78 in back wages, damages and other compensation.
Federal investigators determined that the Michigan school district violated the Clean Air Act
. The terminated employee served as a key witness for federal investigators in a 2012 whistleblower complaint from an employee who alleged employee and student exposure to asbestos at the public school. In fall 2016, the employee also reported potential exposure of pesticide at the school to the Michigan Environmental Protection Agency.
OSHA's investigation found the Dearborn Heights School District publicly disputed these employees' complaints, as well as media reports of potential exposure to hazards. The district also maintained an information link on its website alleging that both employees had presented misinformation and caused a public health scare. In addition, the district stated on the public website that it was within its rights to terminate whistleblowers, a clear violation of federal law.
The employee assisted with the 2012 investigation after the worker objected when the director of operations and construction management told the worker to dry sand floor tiles that contained asbestos at Annapolis High School. The director failed to train the workers in asbestos hazards and provide protective equipment.
Within days of receipt of the Department of Labor's June 2016 findings in the employee's whistleblower case, the school district allegedly embarked on heightened surveillance of the second employee, a lengthy progressive discipline campaign against the individual, and eventually terminated their employment for actions including reporting unsafe conditions to state and federal agencies.
"All workers are entitled to a safe and healthful workplace without the fear of retaliation for voicing concerns," said OSHA Acting Chicago Regional Administrator William Donovan. "No worker should be harassed, publicly defamed or punished for reporting unsafe working conditions, advocating for other employees and seeking assurances that they and students are not being exposed to carcinogenic materials."
In the previous action, Dearborn Heights School District contested OSHA's June 2016 findings in favor of the first whistleblower. An Administrative Law Judge ordered the district, through a settlement, to pay the former janitor $210,261 in back wages and damages on Feb. 14, 2018.
Both parties have 30 days from the receipt of OSHA's findings to file objections and request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes
protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws and for engaging in other related protected activities.
Florida Shooting Range to Pay Terminated Employee $30,000 to Settle U.S. Department of Labor Whistleblower Allegations
In a settlement with OSHA, Shooting Gallery Range Inc. – a shooting range based in Orlando, Florida – has agreed to pay an employee $30,000 in back wages and compensatory damages. The settlement is reflected in a U.S. District Court consent judgment issued January 24, 2020.
The action follows an employee’s allegation that the employer fired him after he reported safety concerns to the employer and OSHA, pertaining to lead exposure. Reporting safety and health concerns to OSHA, or to an employer, is a protected activity under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The consent judgment also forbids the company from violating provisions of Section 11(c), and requires the company to expunge the disciplinary actions from the employee’s personnel file. OSHA will also provide training to this company’s employees covering their rights under Section 11(c).
"The Occupational Safety and Health Act protects employees who exercise their right to report safety concerns, and it prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for reporting those concerns to a management official or to OSHA," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Falls Lead Work-Related Fatal Incidents in North Carolina
Falls caused the largest number of work-related fatal incidents in the Tar Heel state in 2019, based on preliminary information released by the N.C. Department of Labor. Falls accounted for 17 of the 53 fatal incidents that fell within the NCDOL, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Division’s jurisdictional authority. Struck-by incidents followed closely, accounting for 15 of the 53 fatal workplace deaths last year.
“It is critical that every employer ensures that new hires and existing employees are properly trained to do the jobs they are assigned to do and that they are provided with the proper safety equipment to do those jobs,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “NCDOL has the tools to assist employers with proper training and safety equipment. Our goal and everyone’s goal should be that your employees go home safely to their families and loved ones at the end of the day. No goal is more important than that.”
Not all work-related fatal incidents fall within the jurisdictional authority of the OSH Division and therefore are not included in the OSH Division’s count. Traffic accidents, for instance, account for most work-related deaths each year and fall outside the division’s jurisdiction. Traffic accidents, along with homicides and suicides, are inspected by law enforcement.
The OSH Division fatality count excludes fatalities investigated by federal OSHA, sole proprietorships and other exemptions in which the department does not have the authority to investigate, such as on farms with 10 or fewer employees that have not had temporary labor camp activity within the previous 12 months. Federal figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with cooperation of NCDOL, include all work-related fatalities. The federal figures can be found on the BLS website
. Fatality data for 2019 will be published in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The construction industry continues to be the most hazardous industry in the state, accounting for 20 work-related deaths, four more than in 2018. The N.C. Department of Labor will continue its special emphasis program for construction to maximize its resources and pinpoint problem areas.
Part of the OSH Division’s strategy to reduce work-related fatalities includes encouraging employer and employee participation in various safety and health outreach activities. The OSH Division also works with businesses and organizations that represent some of the most hazardous industries through partnerships and alliances to heighten industry awareness and assist with education and training.
The OSH Division has participated in a federal OSHA campaign to prevent falls in construction for the past six years. This year the National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls is scheduled for the week of May 4 through 8.
“I encourage all construction companies to participate in the stand-down and focus on fall prevention efforts on construction sites to help reduce these preventable deaths,” said Kevin Beauregard, director of the NCDOL OSH Division. “What is troubling about falls is that they can almost always be avoided with proper safety training and use of basic personal protective equipment. The OSH Division will increase construction-related activity in some counties in the spring, especially those identified as having high activity or multiple fatalities.”
One notable increase involved the transportation and public utilities industry, which tied for the second highest number of work-related deaths with eight, an increase from four in 2018. Manufacturing incidents remained the same with eight in 2019. Other increases in 2019 include the retail trade industry from one to three and the services industry from four to seven.
There were no work-related fatalities in 70 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Mecklenburg County had the most work-related fatalities with seven, followed by Guilford County with four. Buncombe, Orange and Wake Counties each experienced three fatalities. Cabarrus, Carteret, Catawba, Durham, Edgecombe, Lincoln, Randolph and Surry Counties each experienced two fatal workplace incidents. Seventeen counties experienced one fatality.
Whites accounted for 31 of the 53 work-related fatalities. Hispanics accounted for 14. Blacks accounted for seven, and there was one Asian fatality. Men accounted for 50 of the 53 deaths. Women accounted for three workplace deaths.
While fatalities continue to fluctuate, North Carolina’s injury and illness rate has steadily declined since 2001 and remains at a historic low 2.4 per 100 full-time workers for 2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles the injury and illness rate data. The rate accounts for growth and contraction in total hours worked in industry, which is an important factor in a state like North Carolina that has experienced significant growth.
New Hampshire Stone Products Manufacturer Cited for Hazards Following Employee Fatality
OSHA has cited Quartz and Stone Creations of New Hampshire LLC for crushing and other hazards following an employee fatality on July 19, 2019. OSHA cited the Northwood, New Hampshire, stone products manufacturer for 12 serious and six other-than-serious violations, which faces a total of $87,516 in penalties.
The inspection took place after a stone slab fell off a storage rack and crushed the employee. OSHA inspectors cited the company for using improperly modified forklifts, which adversely affected their lifting capacity and safe operation. The agency also cited the company for failing to remove defective forklifts from service, inadequate inspections of the forklifts, failing to train employees, and allowing employees to work and pass beneath elevated forklift booms. OSHA issued additional citations for an inadequate lockout/tagout program, lack of eye protection, electric shock hazards, unguarded machinery, inaccessible emergency exit ladder, unmarked or obscured exit signs, uninspected fire extinguisher, lack of silica exposure monitoring and deficient monitoring records.
"Complying with OSHA regulations and manufacturers' recommendations for forklift equipment could have prevented this tragedy," said Rosemarie O. Cole, OSHA's New Hampshire Area Director. "Employers are legally obligated to ensure that the equipment workers use is safe to operate and that hazards within the workplace have been identified and corrected to prevent potentially fatal or disabling injuries."
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. View the citations here
Two Alabama Contractors Cited for Exposing Employees to Hazards After Fatal Trench Collapse
OSHA has cited two Alabama contractors – OLA Inc. and Calloway Inc. – for exposing employees to excavation hazards after two workers suffered fatal injuries in a trench collapse on a residential project in Hoover, Alabama. The contractors face $88,482 in penalties.
OLA Inc. – operating as Outdoor Living Areas Inc. – and Calloway Inc. – operating as American Lawn Co. – for allowing employees to work in a trench without hard hats and cave-in protection. OSHA also cited the contractors for failing to train employees on excavation hazards, provide a safe entry and exit from the trench, place soil piles away from trench edges and ensure a competent person inspected the trench before allowing employees to enter.
"Employers are legally required to slope, shore or shield trench walls to avoid a collapse, and must ensure that workers are properly trained and use approved equipment to prevent serious or fatal injuries," said OSHA Birmingham Area Director Ramona Morris.
New Jersey Aluminum Manufacturer Cited After Crane Operator Injured
OSHA has cited Aluminum Shapes LLC for workplace safety and health hazards after a crane operator was injured in August 2019 at the aluminum manufacturer’s Delair, New Jersey, foundry. The company faces $169,524 in penalties for these violations.
The employee was hospitalized after a steel plate fell from an uninspected crane onto his foot. The agency cited the company for one serious and three repeat citations for failing to report the injury to OSHA within 24 hours of the employee’s hospitalization; conduct annual crane inspections with written certification; and failing to balance and secure the load properly.
“Aluminum Shapes continues to disregard their legal responsibility to comply with safety and health standards,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick, in Marlton, New Jersey. “Employers have an obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their workers.”
Pennsylvania Excavation Contractor Cited for Exposing Employees to Trenching Hazards
OSHA has cited Metarko Excavating LLC for exposing employees to trenching hazards at a Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, worksite. The company faces $59,311 in penalties.
OSHA initiated an inspection on December 13, 2019, after being notified of an employee working in an excavation
up to 12 feet deep without proper protection. An inspector found the worker extending an existing sewage line in an improperly protected trench. OSHA cited the company with one willful violation for the trenching hazard, and serious citations for lack of safe entry or exit out of the excavation and failure to train employees on ladder safety.
“Working in trenches without all necessary safeguards can result in serious or fatal injuries. Employers must protect workers involved in dangerous excavation work, and train their workers properly to recognize and address hazards before entering a trench,” said OSHA Pittsburgh Area Director Christopher Robinson.
Butt Emissions: Study Finds Even Extinguished Cigarettes Give Off Toxins
Cigarette butts pile up in parks, beaches, streets and bus stops, places where all types of littering are frowned upon. An estimated more than five trillion butts are generated by smokers worldwide each year, and concern about their environmental impact has prompted studies of how they affect water and wildlife habitats. But despite their prevalence, almost no one has studied the airborne emissions coming off these tiny bits of trash.
When Dustin Poppendieck was asked to evaluate them, he was skeptical. As a measurement scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) he realized there was no standard way of analyzing the amounts of chemicals swirling in the air around cigarettes hours and days after they’d been put out, and he was intrigued. But he also thought there might not be enough chemicals present to make the measurements meaningful.
What his team found
, however, was that a used butt — one that is cold to the touch — can in one day give off the equivalent of up to 14% of the nicotine that an actively burning cigarette emits.
“I was absolutely surprised,” said Poppendieck. “The numbers are significant and could have important impacts when butts are disposed of indoors or in cars.” The NIST measurements were performed under an interagency agreement with the Food and Drug Administration as part of its analysis of the overall impact of cigarette smoking on people’s lives.
For a long time, most of the health impacts of smoking were misunderstood and often underestimated, in part because the emissions of cigarettes had not been fully assessed. Measurements and epidemiological studies over the last 50 years have improved our understanding of the health impacts of tobacco. We now know a good deal about how cigarette smoking affects smokers’ own bodies as they inhale and exhale, referred to as mainstream smoking. Work has also been done to establish the health effects of secondhand smoke, which is the emissions from the end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the smoke that is exhaled by smokers.
NIST scientists have measured the airborne emissions we are exposed to once a cigarette butt has been extinguished.
More recently, research has also examined thirdhand exposure, which comes from the chemical residue that stays on surfaces such as walls, furniture, hair, clothing and toys after a cigarette has been extinguished. Like mainstream smoking and secondhand smoke, thirdhand exposure can increase the risk of cancers and cause numerous other health problems, especially in the still-developing bodies and brains of infants and children.
The overall goal of the recent NIST study was to quantify the emissions from extinguished cigarettes and discover what happens to those emissions when the butts are left in different environments.
Poppendieck’s team measured eight of the hundreds of chemicals typically emitted from cigarettes, including four that are on the FDA list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents.
They also measured triacetin, a plasticizer often used to make filters stiff. Filters were added to cigarettes in the 1950s. While they do collect part of what comes off a burning cigarette, they don’t fully negate the exposure from inhaling tobacco smoke. Filters provide a kind of handle for cigarette users who want to avoid burning their lips or fingers, wasting tobacco, or having to pull stray tobacco bits off their tongues. Triacetin can make up as much as 10% of a filter, and its low volatility means it doesn’t evaporate quickly at normal temperatures, so it could be a good indicator of long-term emissions from a butt, Poppendieck explained.
The question that Poppendieck and his team considered, therefore, was not the impact of filters on smokers themselves. Rather, they focused on emissions from discarded butts, which are largely just used filters.
“If you have ever sat on a park bench when somebody next to you smoked, then they got up and left their cigarette butt behind, that odor you were smelling is indicative of what we are trying to capture and measure,” Poppendieck said. “Anyone with a good sense of smell knows it’s there.”
The team had to “smoke” over 2,100 cigarettes, although the scientists didn’t actually light up and inhale. Instead Poppendieck’s team built a “smoking machine” that uses robotic movements to simulate what humans do when they light up. The machine was made to move air through each cigarette in the same way, to remove some potential variables associated with the behavior of actual smokers.
Extinguished cigarettes were placed in a walk-in, stainless steel chamber in order to characterize airborne emissions. The team also tried to determine if environmental differences in temperature, humidity and saturation in water would change those emission rates.
Cigarettes were carefully lit and smoked in a machine before being recorded in the lab at NIST. Most of the chemicals from the extinguished butts were emitted in the first 24 hours, Poppendieck noted. However, nicotine and triacetin concentrations were still about 50% of the initial level five days later.
The team also found that butts emitted these chemicals at higher rates when the air temperature was higher.
“The nicotine coming from a butt over seven days could be comparable to the nicotine emitted from mainstream and sidestream [secondhand or thirdhand] smoke during active smoking,” Poppendieck said. This means if you don’t empty an ashtray in your home for a week, the amount of nicotine exposure to nonsmokers could be double current estimates.
Figuring out what to call these newly discovered and measured emissions has been challenging. In the lab, Poppendieck and his team refer to them loosely as “after smoke” or just butt emissions.
No matter what terminology is used, the research team wants people to know that the chemicals remain long after the cigarette goes out. People have been asked to not throw their cigarettes out car windows, because it takes years for the butts to degrade. Poppendieck wants people to also know they can put used butts in sealable metal or glass jars with sand instead of leaving them out in the open.
“You might think that by never smoking in your car when kids are present, you are protecting the nonsmokers or children around you,” Poppendieck said. “But if the ashtray in your hot car is full of butts that are emitting these chemicals, exposure is happening.”
Oregon Employers, Workers Invited to Take a Safety Break
Employers and workers across the state are invited to take part in Safety Break for Oregon, a time to pause and reflect on the importance of protecting people from hazards and harm while on the job.
On Wednesday, May 13, take advantage of this stand-down as an opportunity to refresh your knowledge and training. Gather your team for a clear-eyed examination of potential new hazards and how to tackle them. Celebrate past successes and recognize emerging safety leaders.
Oregon OSHA encourages employers and workers to team up to celebrate on-the-job health and safety during the 17th annual Safety Break. When managers and employees work together to recognize and address safety and health concerns, the results include fewer injuries and reduced workers’ compensation costs.
“This stand-down provides an opportunity for employers and workers to remember the high value they should place on preventing injury and illness in the workplace,” said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. “At its best, it is not merely symbolic, but also an opportunity for a focused discussion about the best ways to make safety a reality in the workplace by identifying and eliminating hazards.”
Companies that participate will be entered to win one of three $100 checks, to be used for a luncheon of their choice, when they sign up online
by Friday, May 8. The prizes will go to participating companies as part of a random drawing. The Oregon SHARP Alliance
is sponsoring the contest. The nonprofit group promotes safety and health management by encouraging teamwork and cooperation among people, employers, and organizations to improve workplace health and safety for Oregon workers.
During Safety Break, companies are encouraged to share their activities on social media by tagging @OregonOSHA on Facebook and using #SafetyBreak on Twitter.
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