Reclassification of Hard Hats

November 03, 2008

In 1997, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) revised the ANSI Z89.1 standard. The ANSI Z89.1-1997 standard contained a new classification system for protective helmets. In this edition, head protective helmets meeting the requirements of this standard are classified differently by both Type and Class than in the current OSHA-incorporated 1986 edition. The old designations, Type 1 (hats) and Type 2 (caps), are no longer used. The electrical insulation classifications of Class G (General), Class E (Electrical), and Class C (Conductive—no electrical protection) replace the former Classes A, B, and C, respectively, to make the designations more user-friendly. OSHA is in the process of updating its incorporated reference to recognize not only the 1997 edition of the ANSI standard, but also the 2003 edition that uses the new classification.

Workplace Injuries Drop in 2007

Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private-industry employers declined from 4.4 cases per 100 workers in 2006 to 4.2 cases in 2007.

“The 21% decline in the workplace injury and illness rate over the past six years and a 4.5% decline over the past year show the effectiveness of the strategy of targeted enforcement coupled with prevention through compliance assistance to promote a culture of safety at the workplace,” Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said.

“Today’s injury and illness results demonstrate that OSHA’s balanced approach to workplace safety encompassing education, training, information sharing, inspection, regulation, and aggressive enforcement is achieving significant reductions in workplace injury and illness throughout the country,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. said. “This report shows that employees are now safer in the workplace than ever before. This success validates our efforts, and we are redoubling this commitment to make workplaces even safer.”

OSHA Reopens Record on Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Proposed Rule

OSHA is reopening the record on a notice of proposed rulemaking on electric power generation, transmission, and distribution work and for electrical protective equipment. This limited reopening seeks to obtain comments related to how close an employee (or a conductive object that an employee is contacting) may get to an energized circuit part. 

PC Notebook Computer Batteries Recalled Due to Fire and Burn Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall of lithium batteries manufactured by Sony Energy Devices Corporation of Japan and used in a wide variety of laptops sold in the United States. These lithium-ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

There have been 19 reports of the batteries overheating, including 17 reports of flames/fire (10 resulting in minor property damage). Two consumers experienced minor burns. The recalled batteries were included with, and sold separately for use in, the following notebook computer models:

  • Hewlett-Packard HP Pavilion: dv1000, dv8000 and zd8000
  • Compaq Presario: v2000 and v2400
  • HP Compaq: nc6110, nc6120, nc6140, nc6220, nc6230, nx4800, nx4820, nx6110, nx6120, nx9600, recalled batteries will have a bar code label starting with A0, L0, L1 or GC
  • Toshiba Satellite A70/A75, P30/P5, M30X/M35X, M50/M55, Tecra A3, A5, S2 n/a
  • Dell Latitude: 110L, Inspiron: 1100, 1150, 5100, 5150, 5160 OU091


Computers with the recalled batteries were sold directly by Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, and Dell, through computer and electronics stores nationwide and various Web retailers for between $700 and $3,000. The batteries were also sold separately for between $100 and $160.

If you have one of the listed batteries, you should immediately remove the recalled battery from your notebook computer, and contact the computer manufacturer to determine if the battery is included in the recall and request a free replacement battery. The CPSC recommends that you only use batteries obtained from their computer manufacturer or an authorized reseller.

For additional information, consumers should contact the manufacturer of their notebook computer:



OSHA Proposes More Than $350,000 in Penalties Against Hunt Refining Co. for 61 Safety Violations

OSHA is proposing $357,750 in penalties for 3 willful and 58 serious safety violations found at Hunt Refining Co.'s Sandersville, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., oil refineries.

OSHA is proposing $216,900 in penalties for 2 willful and 35 serious safety citations at the Sandersville plant. The willful citations were issued for management's failure to recognize and evaluate fire and explosion hazards from electrical equipment in the process area and failure to address hazards to employees situated in a control room in close proximity to process equipment. Serious safety issues include numerous violations of process safety management standards, lack of safety training for employees, and employee exposure to electrical and fall hazards.

"It is inexcusable for employees to be situated next to the process operation and have them use equipment that could serve as an ignition source for an explosion," said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office.

The Tuscaloosa facility received 1 willful and 23 serious safety citations with penalties totaling $140,850. The willful violation addresses hazards associated with Hunt Refining Co.'s failure to inspect and test process vessels, which could lead to equipment being unable to contain hazardous chemicals. Serious violations include excessive dust accumulation, employee exposure to electrical hazards, and 16 violations of process safety management standards.

"By not performing needed tests, management is gambling with employees' safety by operating equipment that may fail and result in a fire or explosion," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham, Ala.

OSHA Issues Workplace Electrical Product Safety Request for Information

The public comment period on the RFI will begin only after it has been formally published and will close on Jan. 20, 2009.

The RFI requests comment on a proposal submitted to the United States by the European Commission (EC) to permit the use of a Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) as an alternative to OSHA’s NRTL product-approval process for certain electrical and other products used in the workplace. The EC made its proposal through the Transatlantic Economic Council, which was established by an agreement between the United States and the European Union signed in April 2007.

“This RFI will allow all stakeholders the opportunity to provide evidence to help OSHA better evaluate the EU’s SDoC system and determine whether or not an SDoC system meets the safety requirements for the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr.

NRTLs are independent laboratories that have met OSHA’s requirements for performing safety testing and certification of electrical and other products used in the workplace. NRTLs test and certify these products to determine whether they conform to appropriate U.S. product-safety testing standards. In contrast, an SDoC is a written statement, produced by an equipment manufacturer or supplier, that a product meets or conforms to a specified test standard or a set of requirements.

Contractor Faces $111,000 in Fines for Scaffold and Fall Hazards

OSHA has cited Precision Plaster Paint & Contracting LLC, a Utica, N.Y., contractor, for alleged willful, repeat, and serious violations of safety standards at a Utica worksite. Precision, which was installing a new stucco coating on a commercial building at 430 Court St., faces a total of $111,000 in proposed fines, chiefly for an improperly erected and maintained scaffold, and lack of fall protection for employees.

"Failing to provide adequate fall protection and improper maintenance of scaffolding heightens the danger to employees of suffering a potentially fatal fall," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "The sizable fines proposed here reflect employer knowledge, the gravity of the hazards, and the recurrence of hazards cited in past OSHA inspections."

OSHA found employees exposed to 20 to 27 foot falls while working on a scaffold that was not fully planked, had no ladder to provide safe access, and lacked fall protection safeguards. These conditions resulted in the issuance of three willful citations, accounting for $84,000 of the proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Four repeat citations, with $18,000 in proposed fines, were issued for hazards similar to those cited during 2006 and 2007 OSHA inspections of Precision jobsites in Cheektowaga and New Hartford, N.Y. These latest citations encompass lack of hard hat protection, a too narrow scaffold platform, and a lack of bracing, level footing, and mudsills for the scaffold.

Finally, five serious citations, with $9,000 in proposed fines, were issued for split and rotted scaffold planks, an unsecured scaffold, improperly placed scaffold planks, lack of toe boards, and no fall protection for employees working on a retaining wall. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"One means of preventing future hazards is to establish and maintain an effective safety and health management system through which employers and employees work together to continually identify and eliminate worksite hazards," Adams said.

Measles Continue to Occur in United States

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state health officials are investigating and responding to cases of measles across the United States. These cases remind us that it’s important to vaccinate children and adults to protect them against this highly contagious disease.

CDC and state health officials are concerned about an increase this year in the number of measles cases and outbreaks (three or more linked cases) across the country. Measles is a highly contagious disease spread through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms can include rash, high fever, coughing, and runny nose. The disease can also cause more serious problems, such as ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)—even death.

From January through July 2008, CDC received reports of 131 measles cases from 15 states and the District of Columbia—the highest year-to-date number since 1996. More than 90% of those infected had not been vaccinated, or their vaccination status was unknown. Many of these individuals were children whose parents chose not to have them vaccinated. Fifteen of the patients, including four infants, were hospitalized.

These cases remind us that it is very important to vaccinate children and adults to protect them against measles. Even though the ongoing transmission of endemic (native) measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, the disease is still common in many other countries. Worldwide, 20 million cases of measles still occur each year, and the disease is a significant cause of vaccine-preventable deaths among children. In 2006, about 242,000 children died from the disease.

The measles virus can be imported into the United States by foreign visitors or returning travelers who are not fully protected against the disease. Close to 90% of the measles cases reported this year in the United States were either acquired abroad or linked to imported cases. Many were related to cases imported from Europe. Once in the United States, the virus spreads through a variety of settings, including homes, childcare centers, schools, hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors’ offices.

No matter where or why the next outbreak of measles occurs, the best way to protect your children, yourself, and others from the disease is to keep up to date on vaccinations.

The measles vaccine is administered as MMR, a combination vaccine that provides protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. The MMR vaccine is strongly endorsed by medical and public health experts as safe and effective. All children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine. The first dose is recommended at 12–15 months of age and the second dose at 4–6 years of age.

All adults born during or after 1957 should receive at least one dose of vaccine unless they have documented evidence of measles immunity (through a blood test or a physician’s diagnosis of measles). Two doses are recommended for all international travelers, healthcare personnel, and students attending secondary and post-secondary school. Infants 6–11 months of age should receive one dose prior to travel abroad.

Miner Killed in Kentucky Accident

A miner was killed October 22, in an accident near the Cornettsville community in Perry County, Ky. The man was operating a bulldozer at the AM&E Coal Inc. mine when the accident occurred.

Initial reports indicate the man was pushing dirt near the edge of the bench he was making and the outside track got in soft dirt that gave way. The bulldozer overturned and rolled down a steep hill.

Kentucky has experienced two fatal and one serious injury accidents in recent weeks involving bulldozers. In response, Johnny Greene, executive director of the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing, has directed the state’s surface mine safety analysts to visit all surface mines in the state to conduct safety meetings. Those meetings begin today and will conclude in about 10 business days.

“Our analysts will be conducting these meetings with mine employees and contractors who are at risk for highwall accidents,” Greene said. “We will discuss with these employees methods to prevent these types of accidents.”

It is the fifth fatal coal mine accident reported in Kentucky in 2008.

NRDC Calls on FDA to Ban BPA from Food Packaging to Protect Children

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging. BPA is found in plastic bottles and metal containers and poses a serious health risk, especially to infants and children.

“When parents prepare their infant’s bottle, pour their toddler’s juice, or make their family dinner with a can of soup or vegetables—they shouldn’t have to worry they are feeding their children dangerous chemicals. The FDA’s current approval of BPA as a food additive is not safe and could result in serious health problems,” said Dr. Sarah Janssen, scientist in the health program at NRDC. “The FDA must do its job and safeguard our food supply by banning BPA in all food packaging.”

BPA is a chemical originally developed to mimic estrogen that the FDA has approved as a food additive. It can be found in the lining of metal cans, including canned food and infant formula, as well as hard, clear polycarbonate plastic, such as baby bottles and sippy cups. BPA can leach into the foods and beverages from the packaging.

More than 93% of the general population has some BPA in their bodies. In animal studies, exposure to the amount of the chemical that most people now have in their bodies causes a wide array of abnormalities. Research shows that everyday levels of BPA may be linked to reproductive abnormalities, prostate and breast cancer, neurological damage, insulin resistance and diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

The FDA first approved use of BPA in food packaging in the 1960s. The FDA is now proposing to reaffirm its safety based on just two industry-funded studies. Since its original approval, however, new data evaluated by another federal agency—the National Toxicology Program—shows that BPA is a threat at lower levels than the FDA has concluded.

In Japan, BPA levels have been dramatically reduced in packaged foods. And this past weekend, Canada labeled BPA toxic and announced they will remove it from baby bottles.

“BPA-free products are already on shelves, but right now it’s confusing and up to the consumer to make the right choices,” Dr. Janssen said. “We rely on the FDA to protect us from dangerous chemicals in our food and beverages. They need to step-up and make sure all of us are safe from BPA.” 


FDA: Stop Over-the-Counter Cough and Cold Products in Children

On Oct. 8, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement that supports recent voluntary actions by many drug manufacturers regarding the use of nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products in children. The voluntary actions announced by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) are intended to help prevent and reduce the misuse of these products in children and to better inform consumers about their safe and effective use. CHPA represents most of the manufacturers of these products.

Members of CHPA have volunteered to modify the product labels of OTC cough and cold medicines to state “do not use” in children under 4 years of age. (Many of the products currently state “do not use” in children under 2 years of age.) Additionally, the manufacturers are introducing new child-resistant packaging and new measuring devices for use with the products.

CHPA’s voluntary actions will not affect the availability of the medicines, but will result in a transition period where the instructions for using some OTC cough and cold medicines in children will be different from others. Some product instructions will state “do not use” in children under 4 years of age, while others will instruct not to use in children under 2 years of age.

FDA does not typically request that OTC products with previous labeling be removed from the shelves during a voluntary label change such as this one. The agency recommends following the dosage instructions and warnings on the label that accompanies the medication if you have or buy a product that does not have the voluntarily modified labeling.

FDA has held two public meetings over the past year on the safe use of nonprescription OTC cough and cold medicines in children. The most recent meeting on Oct. 2, 2008, focused on labeling of these products. FDA issued a nationwide Public Health Advisory in January 2008 recommending that these products not be used in children under the age of 2 because of the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

FDA continues to reach out to other public health agencies, consumer and patient groups, drug manufacturers, CHPA, and the scientific community. As it obtains more up-to-date information and scientific data about the safety and effectiveness of these products in children, FDA can take the appropriate regulatory steps moving forward.

The FDA recommends the following tips for parents and caregivers:

  1. Do not give children medications labeled only for adults.
  2. Talk to your health care professional, such as your doctor or pharmacist, if you have any questions about using cough or cold medicines in children.
  3. Choose OTC cough and cold medicines with child-resistant safety caps, when available. After each use, make sure to close the cap tightly and store the medicines out of the sight and reach of children.
  4. Check the “active ingredients” section of the “Drug Facts” label of the medicines that you choose. This section will help you understand what symptoms the active ingredients in the medicine are intended to treat. Cough and cold medicines often have more than one active ingredient, such as an antihistamine, a decongestant, a cough suppressant, an expectorant, or a pain reliever and fever reducer.
  5. Be very careful if you are giving more than one medicine to a child. Make sure the medicines do not have the same type of active ingredients. For example, do not give a child more than one medicine that has a decongestant. If you use two medicines that have the same or similar active ingredients, your child could be harmed by getting too much of an ingredient.
  6. Carefully follow the directions for how to use the medicine in the “Drug Facts” part of the label. These directions tell you how much medicine to give and how often you can give it. If you have a question about how to use the medicine, ask your pharmacist or other health care professional. Overuse or misuse of these products can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects, such as rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, breathing problems, and seizures.
  7. Only use measuring devices that come with the medicine or those specially made for measuring drugs. Do not use household spoons to measure medicines for children because household spoons come in different sizes and are not meant for measuring medicines.
  8. Understand that using OTC cough and cold medicines does not cure the cold or cough. These medicines only treat your child’s symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, fever, and aches. They do not shorten the length of time your child is sick.

For more information, go to the following websites:

  • FDA’s Consumer Health Information webpage , which features the latest updates on FDA-regulated products.
  • Safe Use of Over-the-Counter Drug Products 
  • FDA 101: How to Use the Consumer Complaint System and MedWatch
  • Guide to Reporting Problems to the FDA: 
  • Improving Medical Products for Children: Q & A with Dianne Murphy, M.D.:

Three New Safety and Health Information Bulletins Available from OSHA

OSHA's latest Safety and Health Information Bulletins () highlight specific workplace hazards and ways to minimize the potential for serious or fatal injuries. 

2007 Safest Year Ever for Hoosier Workers

The Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) released the 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) data for Indiana. The report states that Indiana’s injury and illness rate is a historic low of 5.2 per 100 workers. Similar to the downward trend in workplace fatalities, which decreased 33% over the past decade, injuries and illnesses to Hoosier workers have also decreased 42% from 216,200 in 1997 to 125,000 in 2007.

Two of Indiana’s largest employing industries, State & Local Government and Manufacturing contributed to the injury and illness decline with 14% and 10% decreases respectively in the injury and illness rates. The State & Local Government rate went from 6.6 in 2006 to 5.7 in 2007. The Manufacturing industry rate went from 7.3 in 2006 to 6.6 in 2007, a historic low for the industry. Combined, both industries had 7,900 fewer injuries in 2007 than in 2006.

Many factors have led to 2007 being the safest year ever for Hoosier workers, including employers being more proactive in ensuring a safe and health workplace. Within IDOL, the IOSHA enforcement division and on-site consultations provided by INSafe work foster a more proactive and cooperative relationship with the business community in Indiana. This includes partnerships on major construction projects such as the Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center. The IDOL also has signed alliance agreements with trade organizations and associations that include the Sheet Metal Workers Union and Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association. More than 68 companies have been recognized as leaders in their respective industries for developing and implementing model safety and health management systems by participating in the IDOL’s exemplary programs, VPP and INSHARP.

“We can accomplish more through a multi-pronged approach of rigorous enforcement alongside cooperative relationships with Indiana employers, business groups, organizations, and associations participating in voluntary efforts,” Commissioner of Labor Lori A. Torres stated. “Together, we can continue to make Indiana workplaces safer and healthier places to work and do business.”

The Indiana industry with the highest injury and illness rate was Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing with a rate of 8.4. This is a 45% increase over the 2006 rate of 5.8. Other industries above the state average include Healthcare and Social Assistance (6.9), Construction (5.7), State and Local Government (5.7), and Transportation and Warehousing (5.5).

Further information regarding injuries and illnesses in particular occupations, industries, worker characteristics and injury event types will be available in November.

Oregon OSHA Proposed Changes to Portable Fire Extinguishers in General Industry

Oregon OSHA is changing the rules on portable fire extinguishers because of issues discovered when the Office of State Fire Marshal (OFSM) adopted the latest version of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers. They are also using this rule-making opportunity to correct some minor issues not related to NFPA. One definition was added and another was clarified to aid in understanding the rule. Several additional changes are strictly grammatical for clarity.

The major change removes language about using people or companies certified by the OFSM to do maintenance on extinguishers. New language reads that these people or companies must be acceptable to local fire authorities. The difference between “maintenance” and “internal examination” of fire extinguishers was also clarified.

The new rule is expected to be adopted tentatively in November 2008 A period for public comment is available through Nov. 28, 2008.

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