What Causes 6,000 Workers to Die in the US Each Year?
Each year, approximately 6,000 employees in this country die from workplace injuries while another 50,000 die from illnesses caused by exposure to workplace hazards. In addition, 6 million workers suffer non-fatal workplace injuries at an annual cost to U.S. businesses of more than $125 billion.
Effective job safety and health add value to the workplace and help reduce worker injuries and illnesses.
Bronx Metal Fabricator Faces Additional $115,050 in OSHA Fines
Bronx-based A & L Sheet Metal Fabrications Corp. has been cited by OSHA for four instances of failing to correct hazards cited during a 2004 OSHA inspection, as well as five new alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace health standards. The manufacturer of steel and aluminum products faces a total of $115,050 in new fines.
The company was first cited by OSHA in February and fined $7,000 for a variety of hazards. When the company failed to submit proof it had abated the cited hazards, OSHA began a follow-up inspection June 21 to verify that they had been corrected.
The new inspection found several uncorrected or inadequately corrected hazards. These included lack of audiometric testing for employees exposed to excess noise levels; lack of suitable emergency eyewash for employees working with corrosive chemicals; lack of a Class D fire extinguisher; and failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program, train employees, label containers and have material safety data sheets. These conditions resulted in four "failure to abate notices" carrying $101,250 in proposed fines.
"Employers cannot ignore OSHA citations," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's Tarrytown area director. "Failure to correct these hazards left workers exposed to hearing loss, eye damage, burns and hazardous chemicals."
OSHA's latest inspection also resulted in four repeat citations, with $11,400 in proposed fines, for unguarded moving machine parts; excess air pressure in a compressed air cleaning hose; improper storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders; and allowing metal and/or chromium dust to accumulate on work surfaces, a refrigerator and a microwave oven. Finally, fines totaling $2,400 were proposed for two serious citations involving lack of noise training and unguarded fan blades.
OSHA issues a failure to abate citation when an employer has agreed to correct a previously cited hazard, then fails to do so. A repeat citation is issued when OSHA finds a hazard similar to one found on a prior inspection and the earlier citation has become final. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA Issues Direct Final Rule on Roll-Over Protective Structures Standards
OSHA published a technical amendment in 1996 that revised the construction and agriculture standards for testing of ROPS used to protect employees who operate wheel-type tractors. The revision removed the original ROPS standards and replaced them with references to national consensus standards for ROPS-testing requirements.
The agency has since conducted a thorough evaluation of the original ROPS standards and those implemented under the 1996 technical amendment. OSHA is proposing to reinstate the original ROPS standards for construction and agriculture after identifying several substantive differences between the national consensus standards and the original standards.
The direct final rule restores impact testing for protective frames on wheel-type tractors and an additional cold-temperature testing option under the construction standard. It also reinstates the exemption from field-upset testing option and an additional cold-temperature testing option in the agriculture standard. The direct final rule also contains minor plain language revisions that will improve comprehension and compliance with the standards.
Direct final rulemaking is an expedited process that saves regulatory resources over the more traditional rulemaking by streamlining one stage in the rulemaking process. OSHA generally publishes a proposed rule simultaneously with a direct final rule. If significant adverse comments are received on the direct final rule, it is withdrawn and the comments are addressed in a subsequent final rule document. In this instance, however, the agency is not publishing a proposed rule. If significant adverse comments are received on the direct final rule, OSHA will withdraw the rule and determine, based on public comments, whether to issue a proposed rule in the future.
Comments must be sent in triplicate by Jan. 30, 2006 to the Docket Office, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Room N-2625, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments on the direct final rule should reference Docket No.S-270 A.
Fatality at Aransas, Texas, Worksite Results in OSHA Citations and Fines
OSHA has cited Degussa Engineered Carbons LP of Aransas Pass, Texas, in connection with a fatal accident in June. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $64,125 for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards.
The agency's investigation began June 28, after an employee riding an open-air elevator at the company's Aransas Pass facility fell more than 70 feet to his death when safety devices and brakes on the elevator failed to function. "If the employer had adequately maintained its equipment, this tragedy could have been avoided," said John Giefer, OSHA Corpus Christi area director.
OSHA issued a willful citation for failure to implement an equipment and maintenance schedule. The lift cable of the elevator had become corroded by salt air and process chemicals, and the employer did not make necessary repairs. OSHA issues a willful citation when there is evidence of the intentional violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or plain indifference to its requirements.
A serious citation was issued for failing to adequately protect employees from electrical hazards. In this case, there was an unguarded opening in an electrical box. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Degussa Engineered Carbons, whose corporate offices are in Humble, Texas, manufactures black carbon used as coloring in automotive tires, rubber, ink and paints. The company employs about 353 workers nationwide, 42 of whom work at the Aransas Pass facility.
NIOSH to Form Field Research Team for Partnerships in Studying, Assessing Nanotechnology Processes
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will form an interdisciplinary field team of NIOSH researchers in the area of nanotechnology. The team will partner with employers and others in conducting field studies to observe and assess occupational health and safety practices in facilities where nanotechnology processes and applications are used.
NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., invited NIOSH scientists and engineers through an all-hands email on Dec. 27, 2005, to participate in the effort. The NIOSH Nanotechnology Field Research Team will include research team leaders who will be on detail from their usual duties for approximately 30 to 60 days at a time, and interdisciplinary field researchers representing areas such as industrial hygiene, engineering, occupational medicine, and risk assessment.
Interdisciplinary researchers will participate in specific aspects of field evaluations in short-term rotations of a few days to one week.
"This systematic effort builds on the start that NIOSH has already made, on a more informal basis, in establishing research partnerships with some companies and institutions in the nanotechnology field," Dr. Howard notes. "Through this approach, NIOSH can better respond to requests from industry and other stakeholders for practical, effective guidance in designing and maintaining safe nanotechnology operations, based on first-hand collaborative observations and sound research data."
The function of the field team will be to assess and obtain insight on materials, processes, current and potential worker exposures, work practices, control procedures, and medical monitoring in operations where nanomaterials are developed or utilized. The information and insight obtained by the team will be used by NIOSH to periodically update "Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology," an interim, on-line NIOSH guidance document, and to create a worker exposure database.
NIOSH posted "Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology" in October 2005 in response to requests for interim guidance from industry and other stakeholders, while research continues for answering key questions about the occupational health implications of nanotechnology.
The effort is part of NIOSH's strategic research program on the occupational safety and health applications and implications of nanotechnology.
OSHA Cites Contractors for Asbestos Hazards
OSHA has issued 27 citations, with total proposed penalties of $38,750, to three Clearwater-based contractors for allegedly exposing workers to asbestos at an Indian Shores demolition site.
"These employers were aware of the health standards but failed to protect employees from airborne asbestos," said Les Grove, OSHA's Tampa area director. "Such exposure can lead to asbestosis, a scarring of the lung tissue, and several types of cancer."
According to OSHA's investigation, the general contractor, Gannaway Builders, failed to assure that a competent person assessed and controlled employee exposure to airborne fibers during the removal of decorative ceilings that contain asbestos fibers. Gannaway also failed to: conduct regular site inspections; provide employees with personal protective equipment and safety training; and designate and maintain decontamination and change areas. The company received 15 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $32,000.
OSHA issued nine serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $4,500, to AARLICE Skilled Labor for exposing workers to asbestos hazards at the site. K & W Electric received three citations and a $2,250 fine for safety hazards also designated as serious.
The three contractors were involved in the demolition, renovation and condominium conversion of apartments in the Tampa area.
OSHA Cites Contractor Following Fatality Investigation
OSHA has cited Nathan Jenkins Construction for allegedly exposing workers to fall hazards at a Savannah, Ga., home building site. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $38,900.
"Fall hazards, a leading killer of workers in this region, are easy to identify and correct," said John Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director. "This builder was aware of fall protection requirements, but failed to implement them."
OSHA investigators determined that on July 5 company employees were installing fascia boards to the eave of a single-family home when a portion of the scaffolding, which had been nailed to the side of the house, collapsed and an employee fell 25 feet to the ground. The employee died the next day.
The company received one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $21,000, for allowing employees to work without fall protection. According to OSHA's report, the general contractor had notified Jenkins that fall protection was required.
Jenkins also received ten serious citations, with proposed penalties totaling $17,900, for failing to: properly design and install scaffolding under the supervision of a competent person; train employees in hazard recognition, and provide safe access to scaffolding platforms. The citations also charged Jenkins with exposing employees to falls from unsupported decking, unguarded stairways, floor edges and through floor openings.
A willful citation is issued when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. OSHA issues serious citations when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
OSHA Cites Scrap Metal and Recycler for Lead Exposures; Proposes $112,950 in Penalties
OSHA has proposed $114,450 in fines against Waukesha Iron & Metal Inc., a scrap metal and recycling operation in Waukesha, Wis., for 27 serious violations and four willful violations of federal workplace safety and health standards.
OSHA opened an inspection in June 2005 after receiving information that workers at the scrap yard were likely to be exposed to lead contained in painted bridge pieces removed from an area construction site.
"Lead exposure is an insidious hazard, not only because of the threat it poses to workers, but also because it can be taken home to their families in their clothing," said OSHA Area Director George Yoksas, Milwaukee. "Our top priority is to make sure workers go home safe and healthy after every workday."
OSHA's inspection found that workers were cutting the lead-painted materials for recycling without adequate protection from the hazardous substance. Willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $84,000 were issued for alleged violations of OSHA's lead standard. Serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $30,450 were issued for lack of personal protective equipment, training issues, and numerous violations of the cadmium, lead and hazard communications standards.
Waukesha Iron & Metal employs 15 to 20 workers and has no previous OSHA inspection history.