Senate Votes to Ban Asbestos

October 08, 2007

On October 4, the United States Senate unanimously passed Senator Patty Murray's bill to ban asbestos, bringing the legislation closer to enactment than at any point since Murray launched this effort six years ago. Murray worked closely with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Environment and Public Works Chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to reach this historic milestone.

"This is a historic day in the fight to protect Americans. Workers and their families deserve a future free of deadly asbestos exposure, and I'm not stopping until this bill is signed into law," Murray said. "I'm very pleased that Senators from both sides of the aisle came together to unanimously support my bill. I especially want to thank Senator Johnny Isakson for his bipartisan leadership in moving this bill forward. I also want to commend Senator Barbara Boxer who championed this bill from the start and led its quick passage through her Environment and Public Works Committee."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said: "Because of this bill, America is poised to join the more than 40 nations that have banned asbestos because it is deadly. This bill is long overdue."

Murray's bill would ban asbestos, invest in research and treatment, and launch a public education campaign. Murray started working to ban asbestos six years ago. This March, she reintroduced her legislation as S. 742, the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007 (S. 742). On March 1, Senator Murray held a hearing in her Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee on the bill.  Then on June 12, the bill got a hearing before the Environment and Public Works Committee, at which Senator Murray testified. On June 6, Murray discussed the bill's progress at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where she was joined by doctors, a patient, environmental experts, and advocates. On July 31, the bill passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee 19–0.

OSHA Announces Southeast 'Swept Up in Safety Weeks' to Occur Over Next 12 Months

OSHA will conduct no-notice "Swept Up in Safety Weeks" during its fiscal year 2008 campaign to curb construction-related fatalities in the Southeast.

In the past, such unannounced safety weeks have been successful in reducing construction-related fatalities in the Southeast. OSHA compliance officers will continue to focus their enforcement efforts on construction sites in the region, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

OSHA field activities are designed to identify and eliminate safety and health hazards at construction sites, thereby reducing the numbers of injuries and fatalities resulting from the four leading causes of accidents: falls, struck-by/crushing events, electrocutions, and caught-in-between events. During the fiscal year 2007 "Swept Up in Safety Weeks" campaign period, agency compliance officers conducted immediate inspections when unsafe working conditions were observed at construction sites. Compliance officers also entered worksites to provide outreach and training and to encourage employers to continue their good work.

"OSHA's goal this year is to continue increasing employers' awareness about eliminating hazards that lead to employee fatalities," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "The increased presence of our field compliance officers and conducting immediate inspections when they observed unsafe scaffolds, fall risks, trenches, and other construction hazards led to a reduction in worksite fatalities."

OSHA's fiscal year 2007 "Swept Up in Safety Weeks" campaign helped reduce fatalities at construction sites overseen by federal OSHA offices by 10.4% compared to fiscal year 2006. During the four designated safety weeks in fiscal year 2007, OSHA conducted 2,086 compliance inspections, while conducting 1,294 on-site interventions where no inspection was performed.

Experts Explore Risks of Nanotechnology Products

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) met on minimizing the environmental and human health risks associated with the manufacture and use of nanotechnology products.  A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide.

More than 500 consumer products made of nanoscale materials, including some electronics, cosmetics, automotive, and medical products have been identified by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. Last year, nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $50 billion in manufactured goods, according to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. By 2014, Lux Research estimates this figure will grow to $2.6 trillion.

Exploring environmentally safe processes in nanotechnology manufacturing is a component of the California Green Chemistry Initiative. Director Maureen Gorsen of DTSC is leading the initiative, a multi-agency state team that is exploring a different approach to environmental protection—transitioning away from managing toxic chemicals at the end of the lifecycle, to reducing or eliminating their use altogether. This new approach is similar to measures adopted by the European Union and the Canadian government to encourage greater manufacturer responsibility.


OSHA Fines R&R Metalcraft Inc. for Willful Violations

OSHA has proposed $170,500 in fines against R&R Metalcraft Inc. of Huntley for alleged multiple willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.

As a result of a safety and health inspection, OSHA issued citations for four willful violations with proposed penalties totaling $159,000. The citations allege that the company failed to provide employees with proper safety equipment while dealing with energy sources; failed to properly train employees in how to recognize hazardous energy sources; failed to establish proper lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental start-ups of equipment receiving servicing; and failed to provide proper guard protection against shears, saws, and press brakes, thus exposing employees to amputation hazards.

OSHA also issued nine citations to R&R Metalcraft Inc. for serious violations with proposed penalties of $11,500. These citations address the company's alleged failure to provide proper fall protection from open-sided platforms; failure to develop, document, or use proper lockout/tagout procedures to prevent employees from being caught in moving equipment; failure to conduct periodic inspections of energy control procedures; failure to provide adequate guard protection against grinding tools and machinery; and failure to provide sufficient working space around electrical equipment.

OSHA also cited the company for obstructing aisles and passageways, failure to implement a written hazard communications program, failure to conduct an assessment program for personal protective equipment, and failure to train and certify operators in the proper use of industrial trucks.

"Injuries and fatalities from accidents such as electrocution, amputation from improper guard protection, or falls are preventable," said Kathy O'Connell, OSHA's area director in Aurora, Ill. "Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face intense scrutiny by OSHA."

R&R Metalcraft Inc., a fabricator of metal parts and sub-generators, has been inspected twice by OSHA since 1997. After the 2003 inspection, the company was issued 24 citations for violations involving lockout/tagout procedures, machine guarding, and electrical hazards.

OSHA Cites AJC Restoration Inc. for Workplace Safety and Health Violations

OSHA has proposed $134,000 in fines against Wally Cilulko, doing business as AJC Restoration Inc. in Chicago, Ill, for alleged multiple willful, serious, and repeat violations of federal workplace safety and health standards. AJC Restoration Inc. employs 25 masonry employees at various sites in the Chicago area.

Cilulko, who also owns American Tuckpointing Co. Inc. and American Tuckpointing & Masonry, has received 104 citations since 1989 as a result of OSHA-conducted inspections. One of these inspections was initiated after an employee, attempting to gain access to a scaffold, fell from a roof and died. Cilulko and his companies have not yet paid the $294,200 in outstanding penalties from previous violations.

As a result of its latest safety and health inspection, OSHA issued three willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $105,000, alleging that the company failed to provide its employees adequate fall protection, safe access to scaffolding, and fully planked work scaffolding.

OSHA also issued citations for five serious violations, with proposed penalties of $7,000, for not conducting frequent and regular inspections, not protecting employees from head injuries due to falling objects, failing to ensure that employees wore safety glasses, and allowing employees to violate safety standards by placing ladders on top of scaffolding.

Cilulko also received four citations for repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $22,000, for failing to maintain a safety and health program, failing to have scaffolding erected under the supervision of a competent person, failing to train employees working on scaffolding to recognize hazards and follow procedures to minimize hazards, and extending scaffolding platforms past 18 inches of the supports.

"Injuries and fatalities from accidents such as falls or lack of proper safety equipment are largely preventable," said Gary Anderson, director of OSHA's area office in Calumet City, Ill. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face intense scrutiny by this agency."

Employee Complaint Leads to More Than $125,000 OSHA Penalty

OSHA has cited Universal Stainless & Alloy Products Inc. for alleged safety and health violations and proposed $126,500 in penalties. The Bridgeville company is a steel foundry with 309 employees.

OSHA initiated its investigation on April 13 in response to a complaint after an employee received an electrical shock while using an abrasive chop saw. As a result of the investigation, the company was issued citations for one repeat violation with a penalty of $25,000 and 35 serious violations with penalties of $101,500.

The repeat violation was for the company's failure to install guardrails around open-sided floors and platforms more than four feet above the adjacent floor or ground level. Repeat citations are issued when an employer previously has been cited for a substantially similar violation and that citation and its penalty have become final.

The serious violations include improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; lack of personal protective equipment when employees worked with high voltage equipment and corrosive liquids; failure to develop, document, and utilize procedures for the control of hazardous energy; failure to provide first-aid training to employees when an infirmary, clinic, or hospital was not immediately accessible; and various electrical hazards. Serious violations are issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA Cites Chicago Construction Company in Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Incident

OSHA has proposed $112,000 in fines against Elliot Construction Co. Inc., Glen Ellyn, Ill., for alleged willful violations of federal workplace health standards following a workplace incident that led to the hospitalization of four employees suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

OSHA opened an inspection after learning of the hospitalizations resulting from overexposure to carbon monoxide at a Chicago worksite where the company was involved in constructing a new cold storage unit.

Three willful violations were issued alleging that the company failed to conduct air monitoring to determine employees' level of exposure to carbon monoxide, exposed employees to carbon monoxide above permissible levels, and did not implement administrative and engineering controls for exposure to carbon monoxide.

"The devastating effects of exposure to carbon monoxide are well-documented and well-known," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, Ill. "Elliot Construction must ensure that its employees are protected against this highly toxic gas."

OSHA Announces Workplace Safety Violations Against Abbyland Foods Inc.

OSHA has proposed $248,000 in fines against Abbyland Foods Inc., a meat processing company located in Abbotsford, Wis., for alleged multiple willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.

OSHA issued citations for three willful violations with proposed penalties totaling $210,000. The citations allege that the company failed to provide proper audiograms and training to all employees exposed to hazardous noise levels; to properly enforce hearing protection requirements; and to utilize proper lockout/tagout procedures for equipment receiving servicing in order to prevent accidental start-ups.

OSHA also issued 11 citations to Abbyland Foods Inc. for serious violations with proposed penalties of $37,000. These address slippery floors and open-sided platforms; failure to have handrails on stairways; failure to implement a noise-monitoring program; personal protective equipment use and storage; entering confined spaces; failure to conduct adequate annual inspections of energy control program; failure to conduct periodic evaluations and refresher training for powered industrial vehicle drivers; availability of adequate medical treatment; failure to ensure proper training for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens; and failure to provide adequate machine guarding.

OSHA also issued three other-than-serious citations with a proposed penalty of $1,000 to the company for having obstructed exit doors, an unguarded shaft, and improper recordkeeping.

OSHA has inspected Abbyland Foods Inc. five times and issued it 38 other citations since 1997. OSHA initiated this latest inspection when it learned that an employee's finger had been amputated at the plant. The company has approximately 300 employees.

"Injuries, such as amputation, and fatalities from accidents are preventable," said Melvin Lischefski, OSHA's area director in Appleton, Wis. "Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face intense scrutiny by OSHA."

OSHA Announces New Alliance With the Association of Equipment Manufacturers

OSHA and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) have formed a new alliance to provide rough terrain forklift or telehandler owners and operators with information, guidance, and access to training resources in multiple languages that will help them protect construction employees' health and safety.

"This cooperative alliance clearly illustrates our commitment to reducing construction safety and health hazards, while promoting best practices and technical knowledge for the construction industry," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "We are committed to working together to develop and provide safety and health information to help employees and employers reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities."

The OSHA and AEM Alliance will focus on hazards related to operating telehandlers in the workplace, such as ground conditions, machine mobility and overloading, as well as hoisting employees improperly. The alliance will develop information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards and provide expertise in developing ways of communicating such information to industry employers and employees. OSHA and AEM will develop and provide training and education programs for telehandler operators and "workers on foot." In addition, Alliance members will promote the national dialogue on workplace safety and health by participating in forums, roundtable discussions, and stakeholder meetings to forge innovative solutions to hazards in the construction industry.

"AEM and its member manufacturers are committed to fostering safe equipment operation and we have worked closely with OSHA for many years toward this end. This new alliance is just the latest example of our industry's proactive education and training efforts," stated AEM President Dennis Slater. AEM is comprised of 750 member companies that manufacture equipment, products, and services used worldwide in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining, and utility fields.

OSHA Fines Frankfort, N.Y., $44,000 for Food Plant for Safety Violations

A Frankfort, N.Y., manufacturer of wholesale baked goods faces additional proposed penalties totaling $44,000 from OSHA following an inspection that was a follow-up to an inspection completed in 2005.

Granny's Kitchens LLC, a division of Keystone Bakery Holdings, has been cited for five alleged serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards at its Frankfort production plant. The citations resulted from an inspection begun August 21 as a follow-up to a 2005 inspection that resulted in $142,200 in proposed fines.

The current alleged serious violations include the company's failure to guard chain and sprockets on a conveyor, maintain an electrical conduit, and label electrical circuits. Two alleged repeat violations relate to the company's failure to provide adequate lockout/tagout training to employees to protect them from being caught in moving equipment and to guard ingoing nip points on a sheeter roller.

"When an employer agrees to correct cited hazards and to come into compliance with the law, it is unacceptable that we should find repeat instances of previously cited hazards during subsequent inspections of the workplace," said Chris Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse.

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. A repeat violation is defined as one for which an employer has been cited previously on a substantially similar condition when the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Lookback Review Concludes Lead in Construction Standard Is Still Needed


"Employers and employees in the construction industry stand to benefit from the results of this lookback review," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "Certain construction jobs still experience high levels of airborne lead and the retention of this Standard is necessary to ensure employees are protected from high lead exposure."

OSHA's Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis conducts retrospective reviews of final standards and regulations in accordance with the regulatory review provisions of Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) and Section 5 of Executive Order 12866 on Regulatory Planning and Review (58 FR 51735, 51739, October 4, 1993). These retrospective reviews are more commonly referred to as "lookback," or Section 610, reviews.

The goal of the Lead in Construction Standard is to protect construction employees from lead-related health effects. OSHA estimates that in 2003, 649,000 employees were exposed to lead at levels that may trigger application of the standard. OSHA regularly enforces the lead standard (29 CFR 1926.62) in the construction industry. Between 1993 and 2003, federal OSHA and state-plan states conducted 4,834 inspections and issued 12,556 citations.

New OSHA QuickCard™ Focuses on Animal Rescue

Employers and employees involved in disaster response and recovery will benefit from a new QuickCard™ published by OSHA.  It also provides guidance on how to avoid being bitten and what to do if attacked. QuickCards™ are two-sided, 4-by-9 inch laminated cards with occupational safety- and health-related tips in English and Spanish. 

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