Wheelabrator Falls Inc. Honored for Worker Safety and Health Success

July 11, 2005

Wheelabrator Falls Inc., Morrisville, Pa., has earned membership in OSHAÆs "Star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). The company was honored recently at a recognition ceremony.

The company is a trash-to-steam plant, burning up to 1,800 tons of refuse a day to produce energy that is sold to a local utility. The site is noted for having a three-year injury and illness rate 15 percent below the industry average.

OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs promote effective worksite-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system.

The following other companies were approved last month for new or continued participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs: Region I: U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Springfield Priority Mail Processing Center, Springfield, Mass. (New Star) Region II: USPS, Jamestown Post Office, Jamestown, N.Y. (New Star) Region VI: Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., Waynoka, Okla. (New Star); International Paper, Gurdon Wood Products, Gurdon, Ark. (Cont. Star).

OSHA and ABC's Pelican Chapter Partner for Construction Safety

Better health and safety for construction workers is the goal of a new strategic partnership signed between the OSHA and the Pelican Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC) in Baton Rouge.

The partnership will actively promote and track mentoring -- a tool that has proven successful for OSHA's prestigious Voluntary Protection Programs that recognize worksites with outstanding safety and health management systems.

The ABC's Pelican Chapter in Baton Rouge, one of 80 ABC chapters nationwide, has more than 325 member companies and has worked cooperatively with OSHA's Baton Rouge area office since 2000.

NACOSH July Meeting

 Agenda items include updates on activities of both OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as follow-up reports on the NACOSH workgroups. Presentations will also be made on the National Occupational Research Agenda, enforcement update, alliances and partnerships, and a standards update. NACOSH advises the secretaries of labor and health and human services on occupational safety and health programs and policies.

Updated Safety Information from NOISH

Organic Solvents. Many organic solvents are recognized by NIOSH as carcinogens, reproductive hazards and neurotoxins. This updated topic page provides links to NIOSH Alerts, Criteria Documents, Current Intelligence Bulletins and other NIOSH publications and Web pages that may serve as resources for information on various organic solvents. 

Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) is a state-based surveillance program of laboratory-reported adult blood lead levels. 

OSHA Seeks Nominations for Maritime Advisory Committee

OSHA is seeking nominations for persons to serve on the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health ). MACOSH members advise the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on issues and concerns relating to occupational safety and health for workers involved in the shipbuilding, shipbreaking, ship repair, and longshoring in the maritime industries. The committee will consist of 15 members. Committee members will be chosen from among a cross-section of individuals representing employers, employees, federal and state safety and health organizations, professional organizations specializing in occupational safety and health, and national standards setting groups.  Nominations must be received by Aug. 8, 2005.

In the News

MFA Oil Company Fined $135,000 Following Worker Death

OSHA issued citations to MFA Oil Company of Columbia, Mo., and proposed penalties totaling $135,000 for alleged failure to protect workers from fire and explosion exposure. The citations follow the inspection of a fatal explosion January 7 at the company's bulk storage plant in Marshall.

OSHA's citations against MFA alleged two willful and two serious violations of safety standards. According to OSHA Regional Administrator Charles E. Adkins CIH, a transport driver was off-loading unleaded gasoline into a 12,000 gallon above-ground storage tank when the tank ruptured, causing a loss of contents with subsequent fire and explosion. The transport driver suffered fatal burns over 90 percent of his body.

One willful citation alleged the company exposed workers to hazards by not having the tank vehicle off-loading area separated from above-ground storage tanks that contained flammable liquids. The second willful violation concerned failure to conduct inspections and maintenance of the tank pressure vent/overfill alarm and emergency vent. Inspections of the pressure vent/overfill alarm and emergency vent are required to ensure they are unobstructed and operational during loading/off-loading operations, and especially during freezing weather conditions due to icing. Obstruction of pressure vents can lead to tank structural damage, resulting in product spill, personal injury, property damage, fire and explosion.

Use of valves and fittings constructed of low melting materials without protection from fire exposure, and lack of an emergency response plan comprise the alleged violations for which OSHA issued the serious citations.

MFA Oil Company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Fire Fighter Safety Initiative

NIOSH is promoting its resources for identifying, correcting, and preventing risks to fire fighters for fatal injuries in the line of duty. This action occurred in conjunction with the ôStand Down for Fire Fighter Safety,ö sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and several other agencies and organizations, including NIOSH. According to the IAFC, ôa stand down is a method used by the military to correct an issue that has been identified as a problem throughout its ranks.ö The stand down urges fire departments to suspend all non-emergency activity and focus entirely on fire fighter safety. It is intended to raise awareness of fire fighter safety and call attention to the unacceptable number of deaths and injuries among these workers.

NIOSH resources available through its fire fighter topic page, include a summary of NIOSH fire fighter fatality investigation and prevention program, copies of reports from all fire fighter fatality investigations NIOSH has conducted under the program, and copies of NIOSH research documents providing findings and recommendations on specific fire fighter safety issues.

Dangers Associated with Cleanup and Recovery from Hurricanes

OSHA is urging employers and workers to take appropriate safety measures to avoid injury and illnesses associated with the recovery and cleanup efforts following hurricanes.

The potential for fatal accidents involving electrocution from power lines, as well as serious injuries associated with cleanup and recovery efforts, have prompted the agency to remind employers, workers and the public to ensure that they observe appropriate safety and health precautions while performing cleanup and utility restoration operations. This includes coordinating with control centers responsible for power circuits so that workers do not enter areas where there are live wires.

"Now that the hurricane season is upon us it's important to remember that even after a storm is over, the dangers are not - particularly for workers restoring power lines, cutting down tree limbs, and doing other cleanup and recovery work," said Jonathan L. Snare, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. "This type of work can be very hazardous and accidents can cost lives."

Information on avoiding hazards and safely cleaning up after a hurricane is available from OSHA to help workers who are involved in recovery and restoration efforts. Fact sheets on issues and hazards relating to recovery and cleanup efforts following hurricanes are available on the agency's Natural Disaster Recovery page. Visitors can click on topics for more detailed information, including the following hazards:

Roofing Contractor Fined $85,000 for Failing to Correct Job Safety Violations

OSHA has issued a "Notification of Failure to Abate Alleged Violations" and an other-than-serious citation with total proposed penalties of $85,000 to USA Roofing & Construction Inc. and its successor company, USA Roofing of Central Florida Inc., in Omaha.

The company provided no response to previous citations for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards that carried a total proposed penalty of $8,200. On May 25, OSHA conducted a follow-up inspection resulting in "failure-to-abate" penalties of $84,000 and a citation for an other-than-serious violation with a proposed penalty of $1,000.

OSHA has inspected USA Roofing & Construction several times at various locations across the U.S. between 2000 and 2005, issuing citations for hazardous conditions similar to those found at the Omaha site.

Repeat citations were issued to the company for exposing workers to fall hazards without fall protection; failing to train workers regarding fall hazards and fall protection, and failing to use a ladder properly to access elevated work areas.

The serious citations alleged inadequate chemical hazard programs and training and failure to train workers regarding proper use of ladders. The other-than-serious citation was issued for failure to certify to OSHA that each cited violation has been abated.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Howard Fertilizer & Chemical Cited for 38 Alleged Serious Violations - $73,850 in Penalties

OSHA has cited Howard Fertilizer & Chemical Company Inc., for 38 alleged serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. The citations, which assess penalties totaling $73,850, follow investigation of a February 16 accident at the company's Groveland, Florida, plant.

According to OSHA, an employee at the plant was mixing and heating chemicals inside a modified steel drum when it became over-pressurized, exploded and launched through the plant's ceiling. The employee was seriously burned.

OSHA cited the company, and proposed penalties totaling $17,500, for failing to: use proper equipment to mix and heat chemicals; assess hazards involved in processing chemicals; determine and provide appropriate personal protective equipment for employees, and provide employees with chemical-hazard-recognition training.

The company was also cited for failing to protect workers from falls, amputations, electrical and confined space hazards. Proposed penalties for those violations were $56,350.