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10/25/2004

OSHA Signs Strategic Partnership With Army

Safety


OSHA entered into a partnership this week with the U.S. Department of the Army that is designed to improve safety and health for the Army's civilian workforce at 21 military installations across the country.

The partnership agreement supports the goals of the Safety, Health, and Return-to-Employment (SHARE) Initiative. The Army and OSHA will work in partnership to accomplish six key goals:

  • Reduce civilian workforce fatalities, injuries, and illnesses at each participating Army installation by at least 3 percent per year.
  • Expand awareness of the value of effective safety and health management systems.
  • Reduce total case rates and severity rates related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
  • Share best practices and successes with other Army installations and similar worksites in other industries.
  • Expand the Army's participation in VPP.
  • Convey civilian workforce safety and health best practices and injury/illness reduction lessons learned to Army military personnel.

The partners will work together to identify the most common factors that cause injuries, illnesses and fatalities at each participating installation and develop procedures to address these factors and eliminate the hazards.

The agreement also calls for the identification of key tasks and processes that cause MSDs, and the development of guidance to address and correct the MSD hazards at all participating installations with similar jobs or procedures.

OSHA has developed similar alliances with a many other organizations.




Voluntary Protection Programs Activity

The following companies were approved last month for new or continued participation in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP):

Region IV: Georgia Pacific, Louisville Particle Board Plant, Louisville, MS (New Star); Milliken & Co., Live Oak Complex, LaGrange, GA (New Star); Boeing Payload Svcs., John F. Kennedy Space Center, FL (New Star); PQ Corporation, Augusta, GA (New Star); General Electric, Norcross Tool Center, Duluth, GA (New Star)

Region V: Diamond Innovations, Inc., Worthington, OH (Cont. Star)

Region VI: Boise Cascade Corp., Oakdale Plywood Plant, Oakdale, LA (New Star); Jacobs Maintenance at Huntsman/Rubicon, Geismar, LA (New Star); Entergy Louisiana Inc., Chalmette Svc. Ctr. (New Star); JE Merit Constructors at ExxonMobil Chemical, Baton Rouge Plastics Plant, Baton Rouge, LA (New Star); John Zink Company, Tulsa, OK (New Star); Superior Industries International, Inc., Fayetteville Plating Plant, Fayetteville, AR (New Star)

Region VII: Energizer Battery Manufacturing, Inc., Maryville, MO (New Star); Chief Industries, Custom Products Division, Grand Island, NE (New Star); Cargill North American Sweeteners, Blair, NE (Cont. Star); Colonial Springs Healthcare Facility, Buffalo, MS (Cont. Star)

Region VIII: Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO (New Merit)

Region IX: Gustafson, LLP, Marsing, ID (Merit to Star)




American Biological Safety Association Renews Alliance with OSHA

OSHA Administrator John Henshaw signed a two-year renewal October 13 of the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) Alliance that will continue focusing on the control and mitigation of biological hazards in the workplace. Originally signed on Sept. 23, 2002, the ABSA Alliance identifies emerging biological safety issues and potential methods to address those issues. ABSA members continue to participate on biological hazard-related editorial boards for various OSHA Safety and Health Topics web pages and electronic assistance tools including: bloodborne pathogens; hazardous waste operations; emergency response; indoor air quality; and Legionnaires' Disease.




OSHA/NIOSH Group Reports Productive October Meeting

The Issues Exchange Group (IEG) of OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) wrapped up their fourth meeting on October 12 in Washington. Co-chaired by OSHA Administrator John Henshaw and NIOSH Director John Howard, the internal group was established last fall following a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). The IEG consists of six subgroups that focus on specific occupational safety and health topics including: strategic and emerging issues; standards and guidance; technology, science and medicine; data quality, evaluation and analysis; training and education; and marketing and communication.




FACOSH Schedules November Meeting in Washington

The Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) will meet Nov. 8, 2004, in Washington. The 16-person council advises OSHA on issues concerning the safety and health of federal employees. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Room N-3437 at the Labor Department Building, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. Agenda items include the federal recordkeeping change, Federal Agency Training Week, seatbelt safety, and more. Details on the meeting are in the October 13 Federal Register.




OSHA Recognizes Power Station For Workplace Safety

OSHA awarded the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, CT, the top award for workplace safety in recognition of its strong commitment in safety and health issues. To receive the VPP award, employees must recognize and understand workplace hazards and consistently use the proper protective gear to avoid injuries. Managers must also demonstrate leadership in safety and health issues and a strong commitment to effective safety training. Only about 1,100 worksites nationwide and about 50 in New England have received the award.

Benefits of membership in the VPP Star program include being a partner in a strong network of industrial safety leaders, developing a cooperative relationship with OSHA, public recognition as a leader in worker safety and health protection, and potential savings in injury and illness-related costs.

The Voluntary Protection Programs promote effective worksite-based safety and health. In the program, management, labor and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system. Approval into the program is OSHA's official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.




OSHA Fines Virginia Company For AFB Worker Fatality

Mid Eastern Builders of Chesapeake, VA, was fined $5,600 by OSHA for an accident in July at Langley Air Force Base that claimed the life of one of the construction company's workers.

John Wheat, 45, was killed when a temporary retaining wall collapsed, creating a sinkhole. Wheat fell into the sinkhole and suffocated.

The company was hired by the Army Corps of Engineers to work on a $5.2 million storm sewer system upgrade at the base. OSHA cited a lack of adequate bracing for the wall when issuing the fine. The wall was designed to prevent dirt and sand from collapsing into a pumping station.

Mid Eastern Builders is appealing the fine and contesting the citation. The case has been sent to the OSHA Review Commission. The Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a separate investigation into the accident.




Leading Cause of Poisoning Deaths is Preventable

On October 19, three people were found dead in their Staten Island home. The cause? Carbon monoxide poisoning. Anita Bitri Prapaniku, 36, a singer from Albania; her 7-year-old daughter, Sibora Nini; and her mother, Hasbije Bitri; 60, were killed by this odorless gas as they slept. With cold weather closing in, many businesses and families are turning on their furnaces and other heating appliances to stay warm. Homeowners and business should protect themselves, their families, and their workers by having these systems inspected before temperatures get too cold, and by installing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

If you use gas, wood, kerosene or fuel oil as a heat source, you are producing carbon monoxide. Any fuel-burning appliance such as a fireplace, water heater, space heater, clothes dryer, or a gas stove is a potential source of CO poisoning if not properly vented and maintained. Idling your vehicle or running a gas-powered generator in an attached garage can also cause CO; the fumes seep into your home through doors and floorboards.

Symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu and include dizziness, severe headaches, nausea, sleepiness, fatigue/weakness, and disorientation. At high concentration levels, CO can be fatal. Known as the "Silent Killer," carbon monoxide is invisible, tasteless and odorless.

Now would be a good time to check your furnaces or other fossil fuel buring equipment to make sure your systems work as intended by the manufacturer and are venting properly, Installing CO detectors in buildings and homes that use fossil fuels is essential. Look for one that is battery operated or includes battery backup for protection during power outages. Beginning November 1, all residences in New York City will be required to have a CO detector installed.

When the CO alarm sounds, donĘt ignore it. Get out of the building immediately. Call emergency personnel once you are out of the building and don't re-enter until you have been notified that it is safe to do so.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most poisonings happen in the colder months, when homeowners use fuel-burning furnaces and appliances. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports more than 10,000 people die or seek medical attention each year due to CO poisoning from a house-related product. More than half of those fatalities and injuries are due to CO poisoning from heating systems.




Texas CompanyĘs OSHA Fines Reduced By Almost $200,000

OSHA has reduced fines for Goodman Manufacturing Co. in settlement of citations for lockout/tagout and other safety violations from a proposed $469,700 to $277,000.

OSHA noted the company's positive steps in improving safety led to the agencyĘs agreement to reduce the penalties. The Houston, TX, company agreed to pay the penalties while strengthening the company's health and safety program at its two manufacturing sites. Goodman Manufacturing employs about 3,100 workers at its two Houston facilities.

The agency's investigation began in April in response to a complaint. OSHA subsequently learned that an employee's arm had been amputated in a mechanical power press. The company was cited with 62 alleged serious, 11 alleged repeat, and 10 alleged other violations of safety standards.

Alleged serious violations included failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures to ensure that machinery is not accidentally energized during repair or maintenance operations; failure to inspect the mechanical power press; not providing personal protective equipment; failure to provide training on powered industrial trucks; not providing a means of egress, and improper storage of flammable and combustible liquids. Alleged repeat violations included failure to provide medical evaluations for respiratory protection, unguarded electrical devices, and inadequate respiratory protection.

Goodman Manufacturing took immediate steps to safeguard workers in response to the OSHA investigation. To date, the company has invested over $2 million in improving equipment and processes for the long-term safety of its employees.

OSHA says Goodman Manufacturing has begun correcting all citation items, and has agreed to establish an effective safety and health program with sufficient resources for the effort, including a full-time certified safety and health professional.