Workplace Injury Prevention Through Design

September 17, 2007

One of the best ways to prevent and control occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities is to "design out" or minimize hazards and risks early in the design process. 

The concept of PtD can be defined as addressing occupational safety and health needs in the design process to prevent or minimize the work-related hazards and risks associated with the construction, manufacture, use, maintenance, and disposal of facilities, materials, and equipment.

A growing number of business leaders are recognizing PtD as a cost-effective means to enhance occupational safety and health. Many U.S. companies openly support PtD concepts and have developed management practices to implement them. Other countries are actively promoting PtD concepts as well. In 1994, the United Kingdom began requiring construction companies, project owners, and architects to address safety and health during the design phase of projects, and companies there have responded with positive changes in management practices to comply with the regulations. Australia developed the Australian National OHS Strategy 2002–2012, which set "eliminating hazards at the design stage" as one of five national priorities. As a result, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) developed the Safe Design National Strategy and Action Plans for Australia encompassing a wide range of design areas including buildings and structures, work environments, materials, and plant machinery and equipment.


Personal Protective Equipment for Bird Flu

Avian influenza is a highly contagious and often serious disease among birds. In recent years, there has been evidence of transmission of "highly pathogenic" strains to people who have close contact with infected birds. Employees who have been identified as being at risk of infection during avian influenza outbreaks have included poultry workers, veterinarians, animal inspectors, and workers involved in managing, culling, or disposing of infected birds.  The type and level of recommended protection are based on the likelihood that birds are infected, the type of work to be performed, and the context of the work operation. This matrix can be used as a planning guide. If there is an outbreak, recommendations may change as more is learned about how the specific viral strain is transmitted and controlled.


New Thermoforming Safety Procedures

The module reviews potential hazards associated with thermoforming, a manufacturing process that uses a thermoplastic sheet or film that is fed into an oven, and then heated, formed, and trimmed.

"This new module of the Machine Guarding eTool is another example of how OSHA is making valuable information easily accessible to employers and employees so they can build and sustain a safe and healthful work environment," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "It is important that we make every effort to help put educational materials into the hands of stakeholders to improve employee safety and health on the job."

The new module goes into detail about the various stages of the thermoforming process, including loading a roll of plastic onto a roll-fed thermoformer machine and threading the plastic into it through end-feed rollers. It also examines the forming, trimming, and stacking process and how employers and employees can avoid the hazards associated with these processes.



OSHA's Cooperative Programs Are Focus of NSC Web-Based Seminar

The National Safety Council (NSC) will host a Web-based seminar on Oct. 2 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT focusing on OSHA's cooperative programs and the value of partnering with OSHA to improve workplace safety and health. Featured speakers include OSHA's Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs Director Paula White and General Electric Company's Global Manager of VPP and Safety Programs Michael J. Vigezzi.


Improvements Needed in Availability of Health Screening and Monitoring Services for Responders

the Government Accountability Office discusses the status of: (1) services provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) WTC Federal Responder Screening Program; (2) efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to provide services for nonfederal responders residing outside the New York City (NYC) area; and (3) NIOSH awards to WTC health program grantees for treatment services.


MSHA Proposes New Standards for Underground Coal Mine Rescue Teams

MSHA also announced four public hearings to be held on this proposed rule, as well as another proposed rule published today regarding mine rescue team equipment.
MSHA's proposed rules on mine rescue teams:

  • Require coal mine operators to make available two certified mine rescue teams
  • Include criteria for certifying the qualifications of mine rescue teams
  • Require mine rescue team members to be available at the mine within one hour from the mine rescue station
  • Increase training for coal mine rescue team members from 40 to 64 hours annually
  • Require coal mine rescue team members to have practical experience as an underground coal miner or member of a mine rescue team
  • Require mine rescue team members to participate in training at each mine serviced by the team and have knowledge of the mine operations and ventilation
  • Require mine rescue team members to participate annually in two local mine rescue contests
  • Include criteria for local mine rescue contests to improve rescue skills


Public hearings on both proposed rules will be held beginning at 9 a.m. local time on October 23 in Salt Lake City, Utah; October 25 in Lexington, Ky.; October 30 in Charleston, W.Va.; and November 1 in Birmingham, Ala.


Department of Homeland Security Issues National Preparedness Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on September 13 the publication of two important tools to organize and synchronize national efforts to strengthen preparedness: 1) the National Preparedness Guidelines, which establish a vision for national preparedness and provide a systematic approach for prioritizing preparedness efforts across the nation; and 2) the Target Capabilities List, which describes the collective national capabilities required to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

"The National Preparedness Guidelines and Target Capabilities List are the culmination of extensive efforts to define the specific plans and capabilities our nation must possess in order to address catastrophic threats," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "These documents will help focus policy, planning, and investments at all levels of government and the private sector in order to strengthen our collective capabilities and better prepare for major incidents."

Publication of the Guidelines and Target Capabilities List fulfills a major component of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8, "National Preparedness," and establishes a framework for understanding what it means for the nation to be prepared for all hazards. There are four critical elements to the National Preparedness Guidelines:

  1. The national preparedness vision, which provides a concise statement of the core preparedness goal for the nation
  2. The 15 National Planning Scenarios, which collectively depict the broad range of natural and man-made threats facing our nation and guide overall homeland security planning efforts at all levels of government and with the private sector. They form the basis for national planning, training, investments, and exercises needed to prepare for emergencies of all types
  3. Universal Task List (UTL), which is a menu of some 1,600 unique tasks that can facilitate efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from the major events that are represented by the National Planning Scenarios. Although no single entity will perform every task, the UTL presents a common language and vocabulary that supports all efforts to coordinate national preparedness activities.
  4. Target Capabilities List (TCL), which defines 37 specific capabilities that states and communities and the private sector should collectively develop in order to respond effectively to disasters.

Developed through an extensive process that involved more than 1,500 federal, state, and local officials, and more than 120 national associations, the guidelines replace the Interim National Preparedness Goal issued on March 31, 2005. They also integrate lessons learned following Hurricane Katrina and a 2006 review of states’ and major cities’ emergency operations and evacuation plans.


OSHA Finds Workplace Safety Violations at Six Flags Great America

OSHA has proposed $117,700 in fines against Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. in Gurnee, Ill., for alleged multiple serious and repeat violations of federal workplace safety standards.

Following a recent safety inspection, OSHA issued citations for 34 serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $90,000. Alleged violations include the company’s failure to properly store flammable liquids or use approved pumps to dispense flammable liquids; sprinkler heads in a spray booth covered with unapproved polyethylene bags; exits not properly marked; ladders damaged and not suitable for use; an inoperable eyewash station; improper machine guarding for wood and metal cutting equipment; and circuit breaker boxes used to disconnect machines not properly marked for lockout/tagout procedures, which are intended to prevent inadvertent machine startups.

OSHA also issued four citations for repeat serious violations with proposed penalties of $27,700 for defective emergency brakes on a powered industrial truck, absence of powered industrial nameplates, obstructed exit routes, and inadequate housekeeping.

OSHA’s area director in Des Plaines, Ill., Diane Turek said, “Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face close scrutiny by this agency.”

New York-headquartered Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. has about 35,800 employees companywide and nearly 2,500 employees at its Gurnee location, which has been inspected by OSHA five times since 2004. A fatality inspection conducted in 2004 resulted in one violation for failure to provide proper machine guarding. OSHA opened the recent inspection at the theme park as part of its Site-Specific Targeting program, which identifies companies with histories of high injury and illness rates.


OSHA Proposes $83,700 in Fines Against Callaway Contracting Inc. After Trenching Fatality

OSHA has proposed penalties of $83,700 against Callaway Contracting Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla., for six alleged willful and serious safety violations. OSHA’s investigation followed a fatal injury that occurred at a Seminole, Fla., construction site in April when a backhoe rolled into a trench and struck an employee.

“This company failed to take the basic steps needed to ensure that employees were protected from trenching hazards,” said Les Grove, OSHA’s area director in Tampa. “Trenching remains one of the most hazardous jobs in construction, and employers must act to prevent the errors that occurred on this site.”

A willful safety violation, with a proposed penalty of $63,000, was issued for failing to install a trench box to protect employees from a possible cave-in. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The five serious safety violations, with proposed penalties of $20,700, included the backhoe operator’s failure to wear a seatbelt, operating a backhoe with an inoperable horn and back-up alarm, using a chain sling without identification tags, and not protecting employees from excavated materials or equipment falling into the trench.


OSHA Cites Reithoffer Shows for Workplace Safety and Health Hazards at Carnivals

OSHA has cited Reithoffer Shows Inc., based in Gibsonton, Fla., for alleged safety and health violations at two Pennsylvania carnival sites, with proposed fines totaling $62,000.

The company managed a carnival located at the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, Pa., employing 28 people. OSHA initiated an inspection on April 25, resulting in a citation for one alleged willful violation due to the company’s failure to provide employees with adequate fall protection. The agency has proposed a $56,000 fine.

Under a separate OSHA investigation, initiated on April 23, the company was cited for two serious violations found at another carnival site in Philadelphia and fined $6,000 after an employee fell from the top of one of the carnival rides. The serious violations are related to the company’s deficient lockout/tagout system, which would have prevented the inadvertent startup of machinery.

“Abatement of these violations is crucial because of the nature of the company’s work,” says Jean Kulp, director of OSHA’s Allentown office. “It is imperative that Reithoffer correct these hazards to provide a safe and healthful environment for its employees.”

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. 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 Proposes $55,000 in Penalties against Georgia.-Based Rockdale Pipeline Inc. for Trenching Violations

OSHA has proposed penalties of $55,000 against Conyers, Ga.-based Rockdale Pipeline Inc. for five violations of the department’s trenching safety standards at two construction sites in the Atlanta area.

The violations were uncovered as part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavation, one of the nation’s most hazardous construction operations.

“Employers are obligated to maintain a safe work environment and provide their employees with the proper protection so that cave-ins do not occur,” said Andre Richards, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-West Area Office.

The department has proposed citations for one willful violation with a penalty of $40,000, one repeat violation with a $6,000 penalty, and three serious violations carrying penalties of $9,000. All the violations are associated with trenching hazards that exposed employees to possible injury or death. Specifically, the violations include improper shoring, improper use of ladders, excavated material located too near a trench, and employees working in trenches without proper protection or sloping.


OSHA Issues Draft Ergonomics Guidelines on Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries in Shipyards

New ergonomics guidelines from OSHA could help employers and their employees in the shipyard industry prevent musculoskeletal injuries. The public is invited to submit comments to the draft guidelines until Nov. 13, 2007.

"These new guidelines, when finalized, will help us continue to meet OSHA's commitment to publish industry-specific ergonomics guidelines," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Many shipyards have made substantial proactive efforts in recent years to address work-related musculoskeletal injuries. These guidelines will be another resource to help them succeed in those efforts."

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that in 2005, the injury and illness rate for the shipyard industry was 10.9 per 100 employees compared to an injury and illness rate of 4.6 per 100 employees for all private industry. In 2005, 31 percent of injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from work for shipyard employees involved musculoskeletal disorders.

When finalized, the new guidelines will provide practical recommendations for employers to reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries in their facilities by identifying, evaluating, and controlling hazards and using best practices that have been successful in shipyards.

In April 2002, OSHA announced a comprehensive plan to reduce ergonomics-related injuries through a combination of industry or task-specific guidelines, enforcement, outreach and assistance, and research. The new guidelines will be the fourth in a series. In 2003 and 2004, OSHA published the final ergonomics guidelines for nursing homes, retail grocery stores, and poultry processing industries.



OSHA Solicits Public Input on Comprehensive Emergency Response Standard

OSHA has published a Request for Information seeking input from the public to determine what action, if any, the agency should take to further address emergency response and preparedness.

"Elements of the health and safety for emergency responder are currently regulated by OSHA, primarily under six standards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "Some of these standards were promulgated decades ago and none were designed as a comprehensive emergency response standard. Emergency responders often encounter significant hazards while on the job, and this agency wants to ensure it is doing everything possible to keep these vital employees safe and healthy while at work."

Current OSHA standards do not reflect all the major improvements in safety and health practices that have already been accepted by the emergency response community and incorporated into industry consensus standards. This Request for Information is intended to gather information about current thinking and practices relative to emergency responders and skilled support employees.

 Submissions that are less than 10 pages may be sent by fax to 202-693-1648. Comments must include the agency name and the docket number for this Request for Information, Docket No. S-023B. See the Federal Register notice for more information on submitting comments.

For more information, contact Carol Jones, acting director, Office of Biological Hazards, OSHA Directorate of Standards and Guidance, Room N-3718, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington DC, 20210, telephone 202-693-2299.


Cold Storage Warehouse Faces More Than $40,000 in OSHA Fines Following Worker Injury

A Sodus, N.Y., cold storage warehouse faces a total of $40,150 in proposed fines from OSHA following a March 21 incident in which an employee was injured when his hand became caught in an unguarded augur on a conveyor system. Sodus Cold Storage Co. Inc. was cited for 18 alleged willful, serious, and other-than-serious safety and health violations.

"Machine guarding is an essential safeguard designed to prevent any part of an employee's body from coming in contact with or being caught in the moving parts of machinery,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “In this case, failure to maintain the guard on the auger resulted in a serious incident in which an employee was needlessly injured."

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued the company one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $28,000, for failing to guard the augur. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company also was issued 15 serious citations, with $12,150 in proposed fines, for failing to: develop and use lockout/tagout procedures to prevent the accidental startup of machinery; provide an emergency eye wash station; provide forklift training and properly maintain forklifts; label hazardous chemicals; ensure that an exit door was not locked; provide written process safety procedures, inspections, testing, and training for the building’s ammonia refrigeration piping system; maintain a dry floor in the freezer; provide overhead piping low-clearance signs for fork trucks; guard an exhaust fan; guard belts and pulleys on machinery; and guard electrical wiring. A serious violation is defined as creating a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result.

Two other-than-serious citations were issued for failing to provide strain relief on a power cord and to maintain adequate exit access width. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.


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