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5/10/2010

Dr. David Michaels Visits Gulf Coast Region as Oil Cleanup Activities Ramp Up

Safety


Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels, was in Louisiana on May 3, with a team of experienced hazardous materials professionals leading an effort to ensure that oil spill cleanup workers receive necessary protections from the hazards of this work.

Cleanup workers can face potential hazards from oil byproducts, dispersants, detergents, and degreasers. Drowning, heat illness, and falls also pose hazards, as can encounters with insects, snakes, and other wild species native to the impacted areas. OSHA is consulting with BP, as well as federal agency partners, to ensure that workers receive appropriate training and protective equipment.

“Oil spill cleanup workers are on the front lines attacking this disaster,” said Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis. “It is our top priority to ensure that this is done as effectively, efficiently and safely as possible.”

In addition to meeting with OSHA staff and BP officials, Michaels engaged with the Coast Guard, EPA, NIEHS, NIOSH, and Louisiana state officials. OSHA staff has been on the ground in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi to evaluate the training and protections that will be put into place for workers.

Our job is to work proactively so that measures are taken to ensure the safety of cleanup workers,” said Michaels. “OSHA will monitor training, observe clean-up efforts and provide whatever assistance is needed to BP and its contractors.”

OSHA is distributing guides for cleanup workers and developing those guides in Vietnamese and Spanish. OSHA also has established a Website to provide hazard awareness material for all involved in the cleanup activities. The website will be updated with new information as the situation warrants. For information from OSHA on worker safety guidelines during the oil spill cleanup, visit http://www.osha.gov/oilspills/index.html.

OSHA will apply the lessons it learned during its experience in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez spill as well as post-Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts.

NIOSH Offers Resources for Oil Spill Responder Safety

As federal, state, and local governments mobilize efforts to assist in the containment and cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, NIOSH has posted a webpage with resources for protecting response workers from potential safety and health risks. NIOSH’s Webpage is found here: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/oilspillresponse/.

Advertising Opportunities Available

Environmental Resource Center is making a limited number of advertising positions available in the Safety Tip of the Week™, the Environmental Tip of the Week™, and the Reg of the Day™. If you have a product or service that would be of interest to over 25,000 weekly readers, contact Malia Campbell at mcampbell@ercweb.com or 919-469-1585 for details.

OSHA to Hold Worker Injury and Illness Prevention Program Meetings

OSHA will use comments from a series of stakeholder meetings to help develop a proposed rule for Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, known as I2P2. More information on I2P2 is available in the Federal Register notice published May 4, 2010.

The rule will require employers to develop and implement a program that minimizes worker exposure to safety and health hazards. Instead of waiting for an OSHA inspection or a workplace incident to address workplace hazards, employers would be required to create a plan for identifying and correcting hazards, and then implement the plan. Workers would also participate in the development and implementation of such plans.

“We are asking employers to ‘find and fix’ the hazards in their workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “This common sense rule will help make the secretary of labor’s vision of ‘Good Jobs for Everyone’ a reality.”

The meetings will be held as follows:

  • June 3 in East Brunswick, New Jersey
  • June 10 in Dallas, Texas
  • June 29 in Washington, D.C.

All meetings will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time.

Those interested in participating in the meetings should submit a notice of intent to participate here. Submissions also can be mailed to:

Eastern Research Group Inc.
110 Hartwell Ave.
Lexington, Massachusetts 02421
Attention: OSHA I2P2 Stakeholder Meeting Registration

Faxed submissions may be sent to 781-674-2906 to the attention of: OSHA I2P2 Stakeholder Meeting Registration.

Submission deadlines for confirmed registration are May 20 for the June 3 meeting, May 27 for the June 10 meeting, and June 15 for the June 29 meeting. After these deadlines, registration will remain open until the meetings are full.

OSHA to Hold Meetings on Modernization of the Injury and Illness Data Collection System

OSHA will hold two meetings to gather information from stakeholders to help modify its current injury and illness recordkeeping regulation and develop a modernized recordkeeping system.

“These informal stakeholder meetings and written comments from stakeholders will help give OSHA direction to develop innovative ideas that will allow employers, workers and researchers to participate in improving occupational safety and health through the use of occupational injury and illness data,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels.

These stakeholder meetings also support President Obama’s Open Government Initiative to increase the ability of the public to easily find, download and use the resulting dataset generated and held by the federal government.

The information discussion stakeholder meeting dates are:

  • May 25, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT, Washington, D.C.
  • June 3, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT, Chicago, Illinois

To register to participate in the meetings, visit the Stakeholder meeting website here or send a request to:

Eastern Research Group Inc.
110 Hartwell Ave.
Lexington, Massachusetts 02421
Attention: OSHA Data Collection Process Stakeholder Meeting Registration

For further information, see the Federal Register notice regarding these meetings here.

OSHA Requests Information on Exposure to Infectious Agents in Health Care Settings

OSHA is requesting information and comments on occupational exposure to infectious agents in settings where health care is provided, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, school clinics, correctional facilities, and settings such as laboratories that handle potentially infectious biological materials (e.g., medical examiner offices and mortuaries).

OSHA is interested in strategies currently being deployed in health care and related work settings to mitigate the risk of work-acquired infectious diseases. OSHA would like to collect information and data on the facilities and the tasks potentially exposing workers to this risk, successful employee infection control programs, control methodologies being utilized (i.e., engineering, work practice, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment), medical surveillance programs, and training.

“All workplaces must be safe workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels. “We know that workers in health care and related facilities may be exposed to infectious agents, and they deserve to be protected. Preventing infectious disease among workers also will reduce exposure to their family members and to patients.”

OSHA will use the information received in response to this request to determine what action, if any, the agency may take to further limit the spread of occupationally-acquired infectious diseases in these types of settings.

More information on the request for information and how to submit comments is available in the Federal Register notice. OSHA asks that comments be submitted by August 4, 2010.

IOM Workshop—PPE for Healthcare Workers

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is conducting a study for NIOSH regarding personal protective technologies (PPT) for Healthcare Workers. This study will provide recommendations on research and standards-setting directions for PPT for healthcare workers to prevent the transmission of pandemic influenza and other viral respiratory infections. This study updates the 2008 IOM report, Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers.

A June 3 workshop in Washington, D.C. is planned to address NIOSH PPT Program strategic planning issues described in the PPT Program Implementation Plan and the PPE Healthcare Worker Action Plan. Specific objectives of the meeting are to:

  • Provide an overview of recent research (2007-2010);
  • Identify lessons learned from the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic relevant to PPE for healthcare workers; and,
  • Identify research gaps and directions needed for future research.

The agenda for the meeting can be viewed here. Seating is limited. Free online registration is available. Please note on the registration form if you wish to make a public statement (3 minutes) at the meeting. For additional information, contact Cathy Liverman at cliverman@nas.edu.

Dermatitis Reference Being Added to Metalworking Standard

ASTM has announced a revision of ASTM E2148-06, the Standard Guide for Using Documents Related to Metalworking or Metal Removal Fluid Health and Safety. A reference to the new E2693-09, the Standard Practice for Prevention of Dermatitis in the Wet Metal Removal Fluid Environment, has now been added to E2148-06.

The E2693-09 standard aims to help employers and employees reduce occupational dermatitis that can be caused by exposure to Metalworking fluids—oil- or water-based fluids used in machining and grinding operations to reduce heat and friction—which can cause respiratory problems including occupational asthma from aerosol exposure and dermatitis from skin absorption. E2693-09 lists elements of an effective program, including understanding dermatitis and its causes; preventing dermal exposure to metal removal fluids; appropriate product selection; good management of additives, microorganisms, and fluids; selection and control of additives (including antimicrobial pesticides); appropriate tool design; and assessment and control of fluid exposures, including aerosols.

NIOSH’s Safety and Health Topic page about metalworking fluids says some 1.2 million workers involved in machine finishing, machine tooling, and other metalworking and metal-forming activities are potentially exposed.

OSHA Proposes $558,000 in Fines for Electrical Hazards at Rhode Island Mail Processing Facility

OSHA has cited the U.S. Postal Service for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards at the Providence Processing and Delivery Center, located at 24 Corliss St. in Providence, Rhode Island. Following an OSHA inspection conducted in response to employee complaints, the Postal Service faces a total of $558,000 in fines, primarily for electrical and lockout/tagout of energy start-up hazards.

“These sizable fines reflect the severity and ongoing nature of these hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels. “The Postal Service ignored long-established safety standards and knowingly put its workers in harm’s way.”

OSHA’s inspection found untrained or unqualified workers were performing tests on live electrical equipment, and were doing so without adequate training, personal protective equipment, safety-related work practices and warning signs, as well as working on equipment that had not first been de-energized. In addition, inspections of hazardous energy control procedures were conducted by employees who lacked the knowledge and training to determine if those procedures were performed correctly.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued the Postal Service eight willful citations, with $530,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

“The Postal Service exposed workers at the Providence facility to the serious and potentially fatal hazards of shock, electrocution and arc-flash. That is unacceptable and needlessly placed the health of these workers at risk,” said Michaels.

In addition, four serious citations, with $28,000 in fines, have been issued for failure to develop procedures and provide training for locking out machines’ power sources to prevent their unexpected startup during servicing and other related hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which an employer knew or should have known.

Milk Specialties Co. to Pay $535,000 Following OSHA Safety and Health Investigation

Milk Specialties Co., in Whitehall, Wisconsin, has agreed to pay $535,000 in OSHA penalties after being cited with willful, repeat, and serious violations concerning combustible dust hazards, untrained employees working in potentially dangerous areas, and a lack of proper permits for working in confined spaces.

“We are pleased that Milk Specialties Co. has recognized and agreed to abate the health and safety violations addressed in the settlement,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels. “Our number one concern is to ensure the safety and welfare of all workers. With this agreement, I am confident the company is moving in the right direction.”

OSHA began a December 2008 inspection in response to a complaint alleging a variety of safety hazards at the company’s whey processing plant. Willful citations were issued for the employer’s failure to comply with OSHA’s confined space entry and control of hazardous energy requirements. Untrained employees entered confined spaces and performed maintenance and cleaning on powered equipment without protection from various hazards. Penalties for the nine willful violations total $504,000.

Seventeen serious citations, with penalties totaling $21,855, address combustible dust and electrical hazards; lack of exit route lighting and signage; lack of confined space evaluations; uninspected fire extinguishers; and untrained and uncertified powered industrial truck operators, among other issues.

Four repeat violations with penalties totaling $9,145 address the guarding of floor and wall openings, ladders and respiratory protection, and other issues addressed in previous inspections of this company.

Milk Specialties has been inspected by OSHA 15 times since 1974, including four inspections in Wisconsin between 2006 and 2008, with citations resulting from many of the same safety and health hazards cited in the most recent inspection.

The company engages in the research, development and manufacture of protein and fat products for nutritional applications and feeding regimes that include products such as pasteurized milk extenders, spray-dried protein encapsulated fats, dried whey permeates, and condensed whey and liquid whey products.

OSHA Cites Pineville Lumber Inc. for Failing to Abate Workplace Safety and Health Hazards

OSHA has cited Pineville Lumber Inc., of Varney, West Virginia, with five failure-to-abate violations for workplace hazards identified during two previous inspections. Proposed penalties total $189,730.

OSHA initiated an inspection on November 3, 2009, after the company failed to provide abatement certification within the required timeframe for violations cited in July 2009. The violations include failing to provide proper training for workers operating powered industrial trucks, properly guard machinery, install required stair railings, remove debris from underneath machinery, properly complete required OSHA injury and illness logs, and provide an adequate hearing preservation program.

“Although Pineville Lumber agreed to correct these violations, the company failed to follow through, leaving its employees exposed to workplace hazards that could result in serious injury or illness,” said Jeff Funke, director of OSHA’s Charleston Area Office. “OSHA will not tolerate employers that shortchange their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe and healthful work environment.”

Pineville Lumber Inc., is a soft and hard wood sawmill with approximately 15 employees.

MIOSHA Proposes $115,000 in Penalties for GRL Properties due to Asbestos Violations

Michigan’s Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG) Director, Stanley “Skip” Pruss, announced the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has cited GRL Properties, LLC, of Grand Rapids, with $115,000 in proposed penalties for allegedly failing to adequately protect employees and the general public from serious asbestos hazards at the John Bean Building in Lansing.

“These proposed fines reflect the fact that the company knew there was asbestos-containing material in the John Bean Building and yet did not take appropriate action to protect the workers removing the material or their tenants,” said Pruss. “This indifference will not be tolerated. Effective protective measures must be in place and in use when necessary to protect workers and the general public.”

MIOSHA Asbestos Standards require a survey at all worksites involving pre-1981 buildings where asbestos may be contacted or before construction work subject to the standards begins. It is the employer’s responsibility to obtain and review the building survey prior to conducting any work activities that may involve contact and/or disturbance of asbestos-containing material (ACM). The standards require that workers are adequately trained, and detail the proper maintenance, removal and handling of ACM.

Houston Plastics Manufacturer Fined $72,900 for Failing to Protect Workers from Energized Machinery Hazards

OSHA has cited FAST-Houston, a plastics manufacturer in Humble, Texas, with one alleged willful, two alleged serious, and two alleged other-than-serious violations for failing to protect workers from energized machinery hazards. Proposed penalties total $72,900.

OSHA’s Houston North Area Office began its investigation February 3. A willful violation was issued for failing to protect workers from hazards associated with rotating energized machinery and disabling safety interlocks on the machinery. The alleged serious violations were issued for failing to implement an effective energy control program and to provide adequate machine guarding on grinders.

Other-than-serious violations were issued for failing to properly certify annual injury and illness records and failure to train employees on the use of respirators. 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.

“Employees have the right to work in a safe and healthful workplace,” said David Doucet, director of OSHA’s Houston North Area Office. “OSHA has specific standards for operating lathes and milling machinery, and they must be applied for worker safety.”

FAST-Houston employs about 285 workers who manufacture plastics, Teflon, and metallic seals for various high pressure applications.

OSHA Orders Worldwide Jet Charter to Reinstate Pilot and Pay more than $45,000 in Damages and Fees

OSHA has ordered Worldwide Jet Charter LLC, to reinstate a pilot after a whistleblower investigation determined the air carrier violated the pilot’s rights when he was fired for reporting alleged violations of Federal Aviation Administration regulations related to a flight taken to Millville Airport in New Jersey.

The pilot filed a complaint with OSHA alleging retaliation under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, the aviation industry whistleblower law known as AIR21. An investigation by OSHA’s New York Regional Office found merit to the pilot’s complaint.

“Pilots and other workers of air carriers have the legal right to report violations of federal aviation regulations,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “Air carriers that retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under AIR21 will be held accountable.”

As a result of OSHA’s findings, the company was ordered to reimburse the pilot for all lost wages and bonuses plus interest and to pay compensatory damages totaling $21,192 and attorney’s fees totaling $24,610. OSHA also ordered the air carrier to take other corrective actions, including expunging disciplinary actions and references to them from various records, as well as post and provide its employees with information on their AIR21 whistleblower rights.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of AIR21 and 16 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, rail, public transportation, workplace safety and health regulations, and consumer product safety laws. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/dep/oia/whistleblower/index.html.

NIOSH New Communication Products: Are You a Safe Farmer?

NIOSH has released Worker Safety on the Farm, a trifold brochure of valuable information on various aspects of farm safety, such as tractors, machinery, animals, etc. The brochure is available for printing at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-137/pdfs/2010-137.pdf.

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