Safe Use of Quick Coupling Devices

January 21, 2008

OSHA’s Chicago Region, the Chicagoland Construction Safety Council, and the Underground Contractors Association (a participant in OSHA’s Strategic Partnership Program), have joined forces to remind employers and employees about the hazards of using quick coupling devices and possible solutions to avoiding those hazards. Quick couplers allow operators of hydraulic excavators to change buckets or other attachments without leaving the excavator’s cab. Unfortunately, the unexpected release of excavator buckets from quick coupling devices has resulted in injuries and deaths. 

New OSHA Publication Focuses on Security Personnel

This publication addresses emergencies involving hazardous substance releases and provides guidance for employers and their security personnel who may be involved in emergency response. Printed copies can be obtained by calling OSHA’s publications office at 202-693-1888.

OSU-OSHA Safety Day to Be Held on January 23

OSHA’s Columbus, Ohio, area office has teamed up with Ohio State University (OSU) and the Central Ohio American Society of Safety Engineers to sponsor the third annual OSU-OSHA Safety Day on Jan. 23, 2008, at OSU’s Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road. Construction managers, employees, OSU employees and students, and safety professionals are expected to participate in classes covering fall protection, hazards in construction, OSHA inspections, electrical safety and the National Fire Protection Association, trench safety and confined spaces, an Ohio Utilities Protection Service update, and OSHA’s most interesting cases. 

OSHA Cites Goodyear's Social Circle, Ga., Plant for Five Safety Violations and $52,000 in Proposed Penalties

OSHA has proposed $52,000 in penalties against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. for five safety violations discovered during an inspection of the company's manufacturing facility in Social Circle, Ga.

Inspectors cited the plant for two repeat violations and proposed $42,500 in penalties after they determined that management had failed to perform and certify periodic inspections of its energy control procedures and employees were using a production machine that lacked the proper safety guards. The company had been cited for similar failures after an inspection in 2006.

"OSHA expects management to take a proactive approach to employees' safety," said Gei-Thae Breezley, director of the agency's Atlanta-East Area Office. "Dangerous situations can be avoided if management conducts periodic inspections of their equipment and facilities as required by federal law."

OSHA also cited the plant for two serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $8,500 for using defective equipment cords that exposed employees to electrical hazards. An "other-than-serious" violation was proposed with a $1,000 penalty for failing to correctly maintain OSHA logs. 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. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have an immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Contractor Faces Nearly $75,000 in Fines From OSHA for Cave-In, Other Hazards

An unprotected trench and other hazards at a Walgreens construction site in New Haven, Conn., have resulted in OSHA proposing a total of $74,600 in fines against an Orange, Conn., contractor. Louis Gherlone Excavating Inc. was cited for a total of 11 willful, ,repeat and serious violations of safety standards at a sewer line installation site located at 464 Whalley Ave.

OSHA opened its inspection on July 26, 2007, after an agency inspector spotted Gherlone employees working in unprotected trenches seven to nine feet in depth. OSHA standards require that all trenches five feet or deeper be protected against collapse. As a result, OSHA issued the company one willful citation, with a proposed $56,000 fine, for the lack of cave-in protection.

“An unprotected trench can collapse in seconds, burying employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they can react or escape,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “The hazard is so severe that OSHA inspectors will stop and open an inspection on the spot whenever they observe an unprotected trench, as happened in this case.”

OSHA issued two repeat citations, carrying $9,000 in proposed fines, for hazardous conditions similar to those cited in a 2006 inspection of Gherlone at a West Haven jobsite. At that time, the company was cited for failure to provide a safe means of exit for employees from trenches and for failure to inspect the trenches for hazardous conditions.

Six serious citations, with $8,400 in proposed fines, were issued for potential fall hazards from an unprotected walkway and unsecured ladders; exposure to potential injuries from loose rocks, debris, and falling objects; a chain sling not marked with its lifting capacity; untrained employees operating a laser; and employees not trained to recognize ladder and fall hazards.

Finally, two other-than-serious citations, with $1,200 in proposed fines, were issued for incomplete and inaccurate recording of occupational injuries and illnesses.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. Repeat citations are issued when an employer has previously been cited by OSHA for substantially similar hazards and the citations have become final. 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.


OSHA Proposes Nearly $200,000 in Fines Against Massachusetts and New York Contractors

OSHA has proposed a combined total of $199,100 in fines against two contractors for exposing employees to falls, possible drowning, and other hazards at a worksite located at Commonwealth Pier in Boston, Mass.

OSHA opened its inspections on July 11, 2007, in response to a complaint against Barletta Heavy Division Inc. of Canton, Mass., and Erie Interstate Contractors Inc. of Lancaster, N.Y. The contractors were removing lead paint from structural steel supports for piers surrounding the Boston World Trade Center.

OSHA found that employees of both contractors were exposed to falls and possible drowning in Boston Harbor. Violations included the lack of a safe walkway between the pier and barge on which the employees worked; lack of personal flotation devices for employees; inadequately protected scaffolding; trip and fall hazards from ill-kept barges and work platforms; lack of adequate lifelines; and lack of training for employees to recognize and avoid hazards connected with work over or near water. Furthermore, employees of both contractors lacked protective headgear.

Erie Interstate employees also faced overexposure to, and inadequate control of, lead and other hazardous substances generated during paint removal operations. Additional dangers involved insufficient and incomplete lead monitoring; lack of training and eye protection; poor hazard communication; electric shock hazards; and inadequate respiratory protection.

"A fall into water carries dual dangers—impact and drowning—which must be addressed through proper fall protection and effective worker training," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree. "Similarly, effective safeguards against lead are necessary since long-term overexposure can damage the kidneys, blood-forming organs, and nervous system."

Barletta was cited for two willful and six serious violations of safety and health standards carrying a total of $110,000 in proposed fines. Erie Interstate was cited for one willful and 24 serious violations, totaling $89,100 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. 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.

OSHA Forges Partnership to Enhance Safety and Health Protection for Employees During Hollywood Slots Construction

The OSHA Augusta Area Office has entered into a partnership with Cianbro Corp. and the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards, Maine 21(d) Consultation Project. The goals of the new partnership are to enhance safety and health and reduce injuries for employees working on the Hollywood Slots construction project in Bangor, Maine.

"This partnership seeks to minimize the risks inherent in construction work by emphasizing employee training and requiring an ongoing commitment from contractors to identify and eliminate hazards before they harm employees," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England.

"Taking an aggressive stance toward worksite safety and health should reduce injuries and illnesses and their associated human and financial costs, increase productivity, and, most importantly, help ensure that every employee on this project finishes each workday healthy and whole," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine,

Under the partnership, Cianbro will develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health program that adheres to, or exceeds, OSHA guidelines. The program will emphasize employee involvement and include mandatory OSHA 10-hour construction safety training for all supervisors and employees; weekly worksite safety training; documented safety inspections; and the collection of injury and illness data to track trends and identify hazards.

The Hollywood Slots project consists of a seven-story hotel, four-story parking garage and 146,000-square-foot gaming facility. The project is ultimately expected to employ approximately 450 employees from 24 contractors.

The partnership was signed in Bangor by Coffin; Peter Vigue, president, Cianbro Corp.; and David E. Wacker, director, Workplace Safety and Health Division, Maine Department of Labor.

OSHA Announces New OTI Education Centers

 Current OTI Education Centers offer training courses on OSHA standards and occupational safety and health issues. Comprised of nonprofit organizations, the additional OTI Education Centers will increase OSHA’s reach throughout the nation to provide safety and health training. Created in 1992 to complement OTI in Illinois, the centers provide training to private sector and federal personnel from agencies outside OSHA. More than 27,000 people were trained in fiscal year 2007.

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