Styrene Classified as Carcinogen

April 25, 2016

Effective April 22, 2016, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added styrene (CAS No. 100-42-5) to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65).

The listing of styrene is based on formal identification by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an authoritative body, that the chemical causes cancer. The criteria used by OEHHA for the listing of chemicals under the “authoritative bodies” mechanism can be found in Title 27, California Code of Regulaitons, section 25306. OEHHA also proposed a No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) of 27 micrograms per day for styrene.

OEHHA received 13 public comments on the Notice of Intent to List. The comments and OEHHA’s responses are posted with the Notice of Intent to List.

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How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)

OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on safety data sheets.


DEA’s 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, to be held on Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

This is a great opportunity for those who missed previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to dispose of those medications easily and safely.


New OSHA Rule for Handling Retaliation Complaints Under the Food Safety Modernization Act

OSHA recently published a final rule establishing procedures for handling retaliation complaints under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.


“Food industry workers must never be silenced by the threat of losing their jobs when their safety or the safety of the public is at stake,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “This rule underscores the agency’s commitment to protect the rights of workers who report illegal activity in their workplace.”

In 2014, OSHA published an interim final rule and requested public comments. This final rule responds to those comments, clarifies the agency’s policy regarding approval of settlement agreements, and improves consistency with the language of the statute, other OSHA whistleblower regulations, and developments in applicable case law.


California Department of Industrial Relations Reports 2014 Fatal Occupational Injuries

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) reports the number of Californians who died on the job decreased in 2014. A review of the past ten years indicates that workplace fatalities remain below the average rate of fatalities prior to 2008, when the last recession began.

“Every work-related fatality is a tragic reminder that worker deaths are preventable,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “Safe and healthy working conditions and dedication to preventing workplace injuries and illnesses can save workers’ lives.”

There were 344 fatal injuries on the job in California in 2014, compared to 396 in 2013 and 375 in 2012. Figures for 2014 are the latest numbers available.

Key findings from the latest census in California include:

  • Over one third (35%) of all California workplace deaths identified in 2014 occurred in transportation incidents.
  • One in five (22%) of all California workplace deaths identified in 2014 were attributed to violent acts.
  • One in five (21%) of all California workplace deaths identified in 2014 were attributed to trips, slips and falls.
  • Fatal workplace injuries among Latino workers in 2014 decreased to 130 (38% of all worker deaths) from 194 (49%) in 2013, and 137 (37%) in 2012.

The high rate of workplace fatalities for Latinos continues to be an area the department is tracking closely. DIR over the past six years has increased workplace safety outreach and education to Spanish-speaking workers, with a focus on high-hazard work.

A table reflecting final data for 2014 for California is posted online. Detailed tables will be posted as soon as available from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The preliminary data was posted last September. Changes to the final data result from the identification of new cases and the revision of existing cases based on source documents received after the release of preliminary results. Beginning in 2016, the data will only be released once annually in the month of December.

The Census is conducted annually by DIR in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. CFOI produces comprehensive, accurate and timely counts of fatal work injuries. This Federal-State cooperative program was implemented in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 1992.

DIR protects and improves the health, safety and economic well being of over 18 million wage earners, and helps their employers comply with state labor laws. Its Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Cal/OSHA does not have authority when injuries occur on public roadways.

Cal/OSHA Cites Tree Service Company for Fatal Safety Breach

Cal/OSHA has cited Wright Tree Service of the West, Inc., for serious safety violations following an investigation into a fatal tree-trimming accident in Humboldt County near Weitchpec. The proposed penalties total $31,750.

On December 30, 2015, Kenneth A. Williams, a foreman with Wright Tree Services of the West, died while trimming a bay laurel tree on Rock Ranch Road. Although Williams was using a flipline lanyard to secure himself to the tree, it had only one point of attachment when regulations require two. Williams was killed when he accidentally cut the lanyard with the chainsaw he was operating and fell 54 feet.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation revealed the employer had failed to ensure that workers were using a second point of attachment to secure the worker when operating a chain saw in a tree. Also, workers’ clothing, equipment and procedures failed to meet safety standards.

“Tree work involves many hazards, and employers must develop and implement safety procedures and train their employees to prevent accidents,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Most accidents can be prevented.”

Both citations in this case were classified as serious. Serious violations are cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.

Failure to develop and implement appropriate safety procedures is one of the major causes of serious workplace injury and death in California. Accidents related to tree work can result in severe traumatic injuries and death. Twelve fatal accidents related to tree work have been reported to Cal/OSHA since May 2015.

Commonly reported accidents include falls, electrocutions, and those caused by falling objects. 

OSHA Cites 4 Companies After Worker Suffers Fatal Injuries

A 42-year-old laborer leak testing joints inside a 54-inch round pipe suffered fatal blunt force injuries in October 2015, when an inflatable “bladder” ruptured at a Springfield wastewater treatment plant. Inspectors from OSHA found his employer, Henderson Construction of Central Illinois, Inc., failed to train him properly on the testing procedure.


These are among the first citations issued under OSHA’s confined space in construction standard. The new standard took effect on Aug. 15, 2015.

On April 11, OSHA issued citations to Henderson, Williams Brothers, Inc. —the controlling contractor on the site—and two other subcontractors, Tobin Bros. and Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., for multiple safety violations following its investigation into the October 20, 2015 incident. The worker succumbed to his injuries five days later.

“Workers can be killed when employers fail to protect construction workers from the many dangers in confined spaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “These are among the first citations under OSHA’s new Confined Space Standard. Employers can prevent more tragedies like this one if they ensure proper training of workers and communication among multiple employers whose workers are on the same site.”

In August 2015, OSHA implemented its confined space in construction standard after research showed proper safety procedures would protect hundreds of workers each year from life-threatening hazards. Hazards include the risks of toxic exposure, electrocution, explosion, and asphyxiation present for workers in confined spaces such as pipes, manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks. In an emergency, it can be difficult to exit these spaces quickly or for rescuers to enter safely.

The agency’s investigation also found the four companies failed to continuously monitor confined spaces for atmospheric and other hazards and train workers in hazards.

Following its investigation, the agency cited:

  • Henderson Construction, based in Sherman, for five serious violations including failing to train workers to operate equipment. The company faces proposed penalties of $35,000. 
  • Tobin Bros., based in Peoria, for 13 serious violations with penalties of $44,800.
  • Williams Bros., based in Peoria Heights, for two serious violations with penalties of $10,800.
  • Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, based in Springfield, for six serious violations with penalties of $30,000. 

OSHA Cites World's Largest Sauerkraut Cannery After Worker Falls into Vat

A Wisconsin food cannery faces $143,550 in federal penalties after a 35-year-old worker fell more than 17 feet into an empty sauerkraut vat and broke multiple bones.

The agency found similar violations at the facility in 2013 and 2015.

"If GLK Foods had fixed safety discrepancies found in previous OSHA inspections this man's injury would likely have been prevented," said Robert Bonack, OSHA's area director in Appleton. Too many workers suffer life-altering injuries because employers fail to follow common sense safety procedures and regulations to protect them on the job."

Inspectors found GLK Foods failed to:

  • Keep floor holes covered to prevent slips and falls

GLK Foods is the world's largest sauerkraut manufacturer. Its facilities in Bear Creek and Shortsville, New York process 140,000 tons of raw cabbage annually.

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. and Stevens and Layton Inc. Exposed Workers to Trench Hazards

Kimball is a general contracting company that subcontracted Layton for utility line installation. The agency initiated the inspection on October 21, 2015, after receiving a report of workers in a trench without protection.

The agency requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5-feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at an acceptable angle or a protective trench box are the best safeguards for workers in excavations.

The agency issued Layton willful citations for not using sloping or bracing to prevent soil from collapsing into the excavation and placing the soil, removed from the trench, too close to the opening. The serious citations relate to the employer not providing workers information and training to recognize and avoid cave-in hazards and not providing a safe means to enter and exit the excavation.


"OSHA is concerned about the nonchalant attitude toward worker safety Stevens and Layton displayed. There is no such thing as 'safe enough' when it comes to not meeting federal safety standards," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa. "This is an irresponsible and illegal approach toward workplace safety that puts workers at risk of serious injury or death."

Stevens and Layton was previously cited in 2005 for excavation violations. Since 2006, Owen-Ames-Kimball has been inspected 67 times in Michigan and has received 36 citations.

Proposed penalties total $107,400.

Premier Roofing Company LLC and Walter Construction LTD Exposed Roofers to Three-Story Falls

 On December 21, 2015, OSHA responded after receiving a complaint about employees in danger of falling as they installed shingles on a three-story, multi-family building. On December 23, 2015, investigators returned to the site and found employees still exposed to the same hazards.

Walter Construction was cited for seven serious violations for also for not protecting workers from head and eye hazards, the same forklift hazards, not training employees on the hazards associated with scaffolds; the recognition and avoidance of fall hazards; and using an extension ladder that did not extend at least three feet above the landing.

OSHA has fined Premier Roofing Company, LLC, $90,860 and Walter Construction, LTD, $16,800.

"Even after being told by OSHA inspectors of the dangers, two employers at the same worksite ignored the warnings and exposed workers to obvious safety hazards twice in three days," said David Nelson, OSHA's Area Director in Englewood, Colorado. "Blatant disregard for worker safety can lead to disaster. Violating the law will not be tolerated."

Abec Inc. Exposed Workers to Hexavalent Chromium and Deafening Noise


On April 12, OSHA cited Abec, Inc., for two repeated and four serious safety violations after its January 2016 follow-up inspection. OSHA cited the Pennsylvania-based engineering and equipment manufacturer for the same hazards in July 2015. At unsafe levels, hexavalent chromium is known to cause lung cancer and respiratory, eye, and skin damage.

"Abec's failure to address serious workplace hazards endangers the safety and well-being of its workers. There is no excuse for finding identical hazards in a follow-up inspection," said Barbara Theroit, OSHA's area director in Kansas City. "The company must monitor a worker's exposure to chromium which often occurs during ‘hot work' such as welding on stainless steel and other alloys. Abec has to fix its safety and health program immediately."

OSHA's follow-up inspection found the company failed to:

  • Monitor employees' exposure levels to chromium quarterly as required
  • Prevent chromium (VI) dust from accumulating on surface areas

Inspectors found the facility, which makes food-grade stainless steel tanks for biopharmaceutical manufacturers, failed to reduce and monitor exposure levels among workers, and failed to conduct additional monitoring after expanding the production process in 2006, 2008, and 2014. Since 2013, the company has expanded its workforce from 68 to 280 but failed to expand its training and monitoring programs for employee safety and health.

In addition to "hot work," dyes, paints, inks and plastics can contain chromium (VI) compounds. Paints, primers and other surface coatings also use the compounds as an anti-corrosive agent.

Proposed penalties total $95,000.

GE Circleville Lamp Plant Fined $88,000 For Machine Hazards


An investigation by the agency's Columbus Area Office found the company failed to ensure:


 GE Lighting is part General Electric, the multi-billion dollar global high-tech industrial company in Fairfield, Connecticut.

"GE must implement proper machine safety procedures to avoid a tragic and preventable incident.  "In 2015, Ohio employers reported* 266 amputation injuries to OSHA. These injuries are preventable by installing machine safe guards and training worker in safety procedures."

Proposed penalties total $88,000.

Sanoh America Inc. Exposed Workers to Machine Hazards, Fined $82,500


During its investigation, the agency found the employer:

  • Exposed workers working atop equipment to falls because guard rails and ladders were inadequate


Manufacturers, like Sanoh America, need to take their responsibilities for employee safety more seriously."

Proposed penalties total $82,500.

Bobby Campbell Roofing Repeatedly Exposes Workers to Dangerous Falls, Fined $76,930


Proposed penalties total $76,930.

The agency has issued the company repeat and serious citations for a lack of fall protection and other hazards six times since June 2010.

"Bobby Campbell Roofing continues to ignore OSHA's fall protection and other safety standards despite repeat citations and warnings of risks to their employees. National home builders have a responsibility not to allow a culture of neglect and flagrant disregard for worker safety to exist," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "Home builders and general contractors can do a simple safety history check on OSHA's website before hiring a subcontractor that would reveal an employer's lack of commitment to worker safety."

Apex Exteriors Inc. Continues to Risk Workers' Safety


Roofing contractor Apex Exteriors, Inc., is the latest area employer to face federal fines. OSHA inspectors saw four Apex workers without required fall protection installing shingles at a home construction project in Clarendon Hills on January 4, 2016.


The Elgin, Illinois-based construction company faces proposed penalties of $57,950.

"One false step can be debilitating or fatal to a worker without fall protection," said Jake Scott, OSHA's area director in North Aurora. We encourage Apex Exteriors and other employers like them to join this safety campaign and to change the way they work for the benefit of their employees."

This is the seventh time since 2010 that OSHA has cited Apex for fall violations at its work sites. Inspectors found violations in 2015 in Indian Head Park, in 2013 in Arlington Heights and Geneva, in 2011 in Libertyville and in 2010 in Des Plaines and Evanston.

Federal safety and health officials are determined to reduce the numbers of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction industry.The page provides fact sheets, posters and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.


Cal/OSHA Cites Taylor Farms, Temporary Employment Agencies for October Chemical Release

Cal/OSHA has cited Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., and two temporary employment agencies following the October 15, 2015, release of chlorine gas at the company’s food production facility in Tracy that hospitalized 20 workers.

Cal/OSHA’s inspection of the facility found that injuries from the chemical release could have been avoided if Taylor Farms had trained the workers on what to do in an emergency. As a result, the workers did not evacuate as quickly as possible to prevent sickness from the chlorine gas, including burning eyes, shortness of breath, vomiting, nose bleeds, and fainting.

Half of those injured worked for temporary employment agencies Abel Mendoza Inc. and RSJ Admin Services, Inc., and Cal/OSHA has also cited those companies for failures to protect employees from safety and health hazards.

“In dual-employer situations, both California host employers and temp agencies are required to protect temporary employees and ensure safe workplaces,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “In this instance, Taylor Farms and the temp agencies failed to properly train workers for, and protect workers from, a hazardous chemical exposure.”

Cal/OSHA issued a total of 16 workplace safety citations to Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., with proposed penalties of $56,985. Two of the citations, classified as serious, involved Taylor’s failure to control workers’ exposure to chlorine, a hazardous substance, and the failure to train employees about its emergency action plan. A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.

Cal/OSHA also issued citations for a total of five general safety violations to Abel Mendoza, Inc., and RSJ Admin Services, Inc. The general violations issued to both Mendoza and RSJ include the failures to control exposure to chlorine and to provide effective training regarding hazardous chemicals in language the majority of the affected workers understood. Mendoza was also cited for failing to conduct periodic inspections to identify unsafe working conditions affecting its employees.


Stephens Plumbing Inc. Fined $43,800 for Exposing Workers to Trench Hazards


The agency requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5-feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at an acceptable angle, or by using a protective trench box.

The serious citations relate to the employer:

  • Not providing workers with information and training to recognize and avoid cave-in hazards
  • Failing to ensure soil removed from the trench was not placed directly on the edge of the opening
  • Allowing employees to work in an excavation with water accumulated in the bottom

Proposed penalties total $43,800.

“Stephens Plumbing knew the excavation was unsafe, but they put workers in the trench anyway, because management said ‘the job needed to get done’,” said Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area director in Mobile. “Luckily, a compliance officer was there to stop the work before a collapse occurred. It only takes seconds for trench to collapse and bury an employee under thousands of pounds of earth, often resulting in serious injury or death.”

Two Bismarck Companies Cited After 22-Year-Old Seriously Injured in Fall

Two Bismarck companies have been cited by federal safety inspectors for failing to protect workers from fall hazards of up to 18 feet at a residential home construction site in the 4600 block of Greyhawk Lane in February.

Responding to a report that a 22-year-old worker, employed by Front Street Millwork & Lumber, suffered serious injuries when he fell about 20 feet while using a blow torch to unthaw roofing materials at a home under construction February 22, federal inspectors observed four workers employed by L & L Brendel Construction conducting roofing operations without fall protection systems in place the following day.

“It is disappointing that the day following a serious fall injury, that L & L Brendel would fail to ensure its workers were using adequate fall protection to prevent further injuries at this site,” said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck. “Falls remain the leading cause of preventable death in the construction industry, accounting for 40 percent of construction fatalities last year. All employees working at a height greater than 6 feet must use lifesaving fall protection equipment.”


Front Street Millwork & Lumber was issued one serious violation on March 23. OSHA proposed fines of $4,900 to the contractor.


Federal safety and health officials are determined to reduce the numbers of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction industry. The page provides fact sheets, posters, and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.


Marathon Petroleum Company LP Among Indiana’s Safest Workplaces

Marathon Petroleum Company LP’s (MPC’s) operations in Speedway, Indiana, achieved certification as a STAR site in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Indiana VPP sites are recognized as leaders in workplace safety and health and are commended for their success in proactively protecting Hoosier workers.

“Achieving VPP status is not easy. It requires hard work and diligence from both management and employees,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “But the team at MPC knows the importance of an efficient, safe work environment, and they’ve accomplished that.”

MPC employs 70 workers at the facility, which includes a storage terminal, a transportation fleet and a maintenance garage to receive, store and distribute refined petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, kerosene and jet fuel. The facility maintains a variety of safety and health programs, including: regular training, self-inspections, group discussions, review of procedures, consistent employee involvement, and comprehensive safety and health surveys. Along with a company-wide initiative to protect employees and eliminate hazards, these efforts helped the facility achieve an outstanding safety record.

Indianapolis Cintas Facility Certified ‘STAR’ in Workplace Safety and Health

Cintas Corporation Location 18, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, achieved certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) as a ‘STAR’ site. The site and its hardworking staff join a handful of other Cintas locations across the country recognized as leaders in workplace safety and health.

Cintas Corporation Location 18, which houses over 100 partners (employees), is part of the Cintas Corporation. The facility supplies rental uniforms, entrance mats, restroom and hygiene supplies, first aid services, and promotional products for businesses in the central Indiana area. The company’s Location 18 Indianapolis facility is one of Cintas’s 377 sites in the United States, with 38 of the sites being VPP ‘STAR’ sites.

“Without a doubt, the Cintas Corporation is an example of excellence in proactive safety and health,” said Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “Management and staff are enthusiastic about a hazard-free workplace and make training and injury and illness prevention programs a top priority.”

Cintas Corporation’s Location 18 in Indianapolis has a recordable workplace injury and illness rate 80% below the industry average.

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