OSHA EXTENDS PERIOD FOR COMMENTS ON WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
OSHA announced it would extend until June 30, 2002, the period
for comments on the interim final rule that establishes
whistleblower complaint procedures for airline employees.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) requested a 30-day
extension of the deadline for submitting comments, citing the
need for additional time to "evaluate the complex history of
federal whistleblower laws..." The original deadline for comments
was May 31, 2002.
"Providing an environment for employee complaints, free of
retaliation, is critical for workplace safety and health," said
OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "By extending this comment
period, organizations and individuals will have the appropriate
amount of time to submit comments on an important issue."
The interim final rule was published by OSHA on April 1, 2002,
and governs the employee protection provisions of Section 519 of
the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the
21st Century (AIR21). OSHA's interim final rule will protect
airline employees against retaliation by air carriers, their
contractors, or subsidiaries for providing information to
authorities on air carrier safety violations. The rule explains
requirements for filing complaints and provides investigation and
due process procedures.
Persons wishing to comment should submit written comments,
postmarked not later than June 30, 2002 to: Docket C-07,
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of
Labor, Room N-3618, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.
20210. Comments of 10 pages or fewer may be faxed to (202)
INADEQUATE SAFEGUARDS AGAINST HEARING LOSS LEAD TO NEARLY $90,000 IN FINES
A Franklin, Mass., employer's failure to adequately protect
workers against the hazards of occupational noise exposure has
resulted in $89,750 in proposed fines.
OSHA cited J & J Corrugated Box Corp. for alleged willful,
serious and other violations of the Occupational Safety and
Health Act at its manufacturing plant.
"OSHA's hearing conservation standard requires employers to take
effective steps to protect the hearing of workers who are exposed
to high noise levels," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for
Southeastern Massachusetts. "These include annual audiograms for
exposed workers, notifying those employees if testing reveals a
deterioration in hearing ability and referring them for
appropriate medical evaluation, if needed. These safeguards were
not provided for all exposed workers at this plant."
The largest fine, $63,000, is proposed for an alleged willful
violation for failing to refer workers for required medical
evaluations. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed
with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the
Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
Fines of $24,750 are proposed for five alleged serious
violations. Four citations deal with the employer's failure to
maintain and monitor all elements of the hearing conservation
program, not providing annual audiograms to all affected
employees, not notifying all affected employees of test results
in a timely manner and not posting the hearing conservation
standard. The fifth citation is for failure to ensure the use of
lockout/tagout procedures when workers entered a strapping
machine to perform maintenance. A serious violation is one in
which there is a substantial probability that death or serious
physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have
known, of the hazard.
An additional $2,000 in fines is proposed for two alleged other
than serious violations for an incomplete illness and injury log
and failing to record employees' hearing losses in a timely
manner. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct
relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not
cause death or serious physical harm.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations
and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to
request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA
area director, or to contest them before the independent
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA CITES THREE ATLANTA-AREA CONTRACTORS FOR LACK OF FALL PROTECTION
Failing to protect workers from fall hazards at Cobb County's
Mable House Amphitheater construction site has resulted in
$111,750 in proposed penalties for three Atlanta-area
OSHA first inspected the job site on Nov. 30, 2001. Subsequent
inspections were conducted Feb. 5, Feb. 27 and March 6, after the
agency continued to receive complaints about unsafe working
During each of the inspections, OSHA observed Hoschton-based
Southern Steel employees, at heights varying from 40 to 58 feet,
installing and welding steel, working from elevated aerial
baskets and climbing up and down steel columns without proper
fall protection equipment. The agency issued three alleged
willful citations, with proposed penalties of $98,000.
"Four of the nine worker deaths investigated by our office since
Oct. 1 involved falls," said Susan Johnston, OSHA's Atlanta-West
area director. "Nationwide, one-third of the agency's fatality
investigations involved falls. "To help prevent these fatalities,
we've initiated a program to inspect job sites where we see or
are notified that fall hazards exists"
OSHA's revised steel erection fall protection standard is now in
effect," Johnston added. "With only a few exceptions, fall
protection must be provided for steel erectors at 15 feet, rather
Southern Steel also received two alleged serious citations with
$2,250 in proposed penalties for using improper ladders and
allowing employees to climb from elevated aerial baskets to steel
structures without proper fall protection.
The general contractor, Buford-based Ricks Contracting, Inc.,
received four alleged serious citations with proposed penalties
of $10,000 for allowing the unsafe conditions to exist. As the
controlling contractor the company is responsible for assuring a
OSHA issued one alleged serious citation with a $1,500 proposed
penalty to Riverdale-based McKnight Roofing, Inc., for allowing
employees to install roofing without fall protection.
The three companies have 15 working days to contest the citations
and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety
and Health Review Commission.
HIGHLY REQUESTED TB TRAINING VIDEOS ARE OFFERED AS FIRST NIOSH PRODUCT ON DVD
Two training videos to help protect health care employees from
the risk of job-related tuberculosis infection are available
together in one package as NIOSH's first health and safety
training resource in DVD format.
The free DVD includes "Respirators: Your TB Defense," a training
video to educate health care employees about proper respiratory
protection against TB exposure, and "TB Respiratory Protection:
Administrator's Review," a companion video that takes health care
administrators step-by-step through development of a worker
respiratory protection program.
The two programs are NIOSH's most requested training videos in
their previously released VHS videocassette format. The new DVD
packages both videos in a convenient, easy-to-use format that
provides greater visual clarity and more user options than VHS.
The DVD also includes reference documents, forms, and checklists.
Viewers can use an on-screen menu to choose among the videos and
the supplementary features.
Three percent of all tuberculosis cases occur in health care
employees. Respiratory protection is a key measure for preventing
the risk of occupational exposure, and training is important for
the proper selection and use of respirators.
To request copies of the new DVD, contact Roger Wheeler, NIOSH
Education and Information Division, at email@example.com, or call
toll-free 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).
CDC ANNOUNCES NEW SAFETY TRAINING TOOL TO PROTECT LIVES IN UNDERGROUND MINE EMERGENCIES
The CDC has announced a new computer-based training program to
help save miners' lives in underground mine emergencies.
The program, called Mine Emergency Response Interactive Training
Simulation (MERITS), is an interactive, multimedia program that
simulates underground and surface activity at a mine where a
safety crisis occurs, putting miners at risk of death or serious
injury. The program places the trainee in the role of the mine
superintendent who has responsibility for controlling the
emergency and directing the safe, successful rescue of the
CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (
NIOSH) will introduce the software at several mining industry
conferences beginning June 6. Some of the presentations will
include "train the trainer" sessions to instruct individuals and
organizations in its use. In turn, users trained in those
sessions will be prepared to instruct others. Beginning in July,
NIOSH will make the program available free on compact disk and
for download from the Internet.
"In a crisis at an underground mine, knowing what to do and doing
it quickly is essential for saving lives," noted CDC Acting
Director David Fleming, M.D. "NIOSH's new simulation program will
provide users with hands-on experience for making the right
decisions, based on information from the scientific literature,
interviews with veteran mining safety professionals, and
observations from real and simulated disasters."
The simulation begins with a routine business day at a mine. Then
a problem develops, and the trainee directs the emergency
response as the problem threatens to assume catastrophic
proportions. This response entails all of the tasks that the
trainee would face in directing a command center in an actual
situation, including directing traffic control at the site,
providing food for rescue workers, and responding to questions
and concerns from distraught relatives of miners who have been
trapped underground. Each action by the trainee determines the
next step in the interactive process. The total program can take
from four to six hours to complete.
"The MERITS program is an outgrowth of NIOSH's ongoing
cooperative work with industry, labor and other government
agencies, and it comes at a time when it is increasingly needed,"
said NIOSH Acting Director Kathleen M. Rest, Ph.D., M.P.A. "As
more and more mining veterans retire, they leave a shortage of
mentors to whom their less experienced colleagues can turn for
safety advice. MERITS offers an easy-to-use source of
institutional safety knowledge to help fill that gap."
NIOSH introduced MERITS in a presentation on June 6 at the Holmes
National Meeting in Virginia Beach, Va., and will put on a
presentation that will include a train-the-trainer session on
June 21 at a seminar in Grand Junction, Colo., co-sponsored by
the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
Subsequent presentations will be held at the Annual Institute on
Mining, Health and Safety Research on Aug. 11-13 in Roanoke, Va.,
and with train-the-trainer sessions during the Training Resources
Applied to Mining/National Mine Instructor's Conference on
October 15-18 in Beckley, W.Va.
For information about attending the training sessions, contact
Patricia Henning, NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory,
Pittsburgh, Pa., at (412) 386-6466. The MERITS software, along
with a trainer's guide, will be provided to participants at the
sessions. For more information about NIOSH's mining safety
research, visit the NIOSH website at
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/. For more information on MERITS, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/merits/default.htm.
OSHA OFFERS TWO NEW PUBLICATIONS
Updated publications on bloodborne pathogens and electrical
hazards are available to assist employers and workers in
maintaining safe and healthful work environments.
Controlling Electrical Hazards, OSHA 3075, is an up-to-date
overview of basic electrical safety, OSHA electrical safety
standards, and information employers need to comply with those
standards. The booklet provides guidance for employees who work
with electricity directly, such as engineers, electricians,
electronic technicians and power line workers, as well as the
millions of people who deal with electricity indirectly in the
course of their everyday work.
A newly revised Bloodborne Pathogens fact sheet explains what
bloodborne pathogens are, protections offered by OSHA's
Bloodborne Pathogen standard, and steps employers can take to
protect their workers.
Controlling Electrical Hazards can be downloaded at
http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3075.pdf. In addition, hard
copies are available through OSHA's Online Publications Order
Form and from the OSHA Publications Office at (800) 321-OSHA. The
Bloodborne Pathogens fact sheet can be downloaded at
NIOSH ISSUES FIRST APPROVAL UNDER PROGRAM FOR CERTIFYING EMERGENCY RESPONDER RESPIRATORS
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on
May 31, 2002, issued its first approval of respirators for
occupational use by emergency responders against chemical,
biological, radiological, and nuclear agents.
NIOSH approved Spiromatic Models 9030, 6630, and 4530,
manufactured by Interspiro USA Inc., Branford, Conn. The
respirators are self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that
provide users with air from a pressurized cylinder or tank
carried on the back.
The approval signifies that the products are expected to protect
fire fighters and other responders from chemical, biological,
radiological, and nuclear exposures in the line of duty. NIOSH
based its determination on positive results from rigorous
laboratory tests, evaluation of product specifications for the
devices, and assessment of the manufacturer's quality control
The action allows the manufacturer to label the approved devices
as NIOSH-certified for occupational use by emergency responders.
It does not constitute a commercial endorsement of the products.
NIOSH tested and evaluated the devices under criteria announced
in December 2001 for certifying SCBAs for occupational use by
first responders against chemical, biological, radiological, and
nuclear agents. The criteria built on NIOSH's existing program
for certifying respirators for occupational use in traditional
workplace settings such as factories, construction sites, and
health care facilities. Development of the new program involved
broad national support and collaboration by many agencies,
organizations, and stakeholders.
NIOSH is continuing to test and evaluate other SCBAs submitted by
manufacturers for certification under the new program. It also is
developing similar criteria for approving other types of
respirators, such as air-purifying devices, for use by emergency
responders. For more information, visit
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/scbasite.html or call toll-free 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).