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1/31/2011

OSHA Withdraws Section for MSDs on Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses

Safety


OSHA announced that it has temporarily withdrawn from review by the Office of Management and Budget its proposal to restore a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on employer injury and illness logs. The agency has taken this action to seek greater input from small businesses on the impact of the proposal and will do so through outreach in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

“Work-related musculoskeletal disorders remain the leading cause of workplace injury and illness in this country, and this proposal is an effort to assist employers and OSHA in better identifying problems in workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “However, it is clear that the proposal has raised concern among small businesses, so OSHA is facilitating an active dialogue between the agency and the small business community.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSDs accounted for 28% of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work in 2009.

The proposed rule would not change existing requirements about when and under what circumstances employers must record MSDs on their injury and illness logs. While many employers are currently required to keep a record of workplace injuries and illnesses, including work-related MSDs, on the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), the vast majority of small businesses are not required to keep such records. The proposed rule would require those employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records, and to record MSDs, to place a check mark in the new column for all MSDs.

Prior to 2001, OSHA’s injury and illness logs contained a column for repetitive trauma disorders that included noise and many kinds of MSDs. In 2001, OSHA separated noise and MSDs into two columns, but the MSD column was deleted in 2003 before the provision became effective. This proposal would restore the MSD column to the Form 300.

OSHA and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy jointly will hold a meeting to engage and listen to small businesses about the agency’s proposal. Small businesses from around the country will be able to participate through electronic means, such as telephone and/or a Web forum. Details of the meeting will be announced within 30 days. OSHA also will conduct a stakeholder meeting with other members of the public if requested.

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Each year, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) updates and revises the regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods (hazardous materials) by air. If you offer dangerous goods for transportation by air, you must follow the new regulations by January 1. A large number of significant changes are being implemented in the 2011 IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).

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  • Changes in the regulations for consumer commodities– new marking and shipping paper entries
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  • Phase in of new packing instructions for Class 3 flammable liquids, Class 4 flammable solids, Class 5 oxidizers/organic peroxides, Class 8 corrosives, Class 9 miscellaneous, and Division 6
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Discovery of a Biochemical Basis for Broccoli’s Cancer-fighting Ability

Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential biochemical basis for the apparent cancer-fighting ability of broccoli and its veggie cousins. They found for the first time that certain substances in the vegetables appear to target and block a defective gene associated with cancer. Their report, which could lead to new strategies for preventing and treating cancer, appears in ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Fung-Lung Chung and colleagues showed in previous experiments that substances called isothiocyanates (or ITCs)—found in broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and other cruciferous vegetables—appear to stop the growth of cancer, however, it is not known exactly how these substances work, a key to developing improved strategies for fighting cancer in humans. The tumor suppressor gene p53 appears to play a key role in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from starting the abnormal growth that is a hallmark of cancer. When mutated, p53 does not offer that protection, and those mutations occur in half of all human cancers. ITCs might work by targeting this gene, the report suggests.

The scientists studied the effects of certain naturally-occurring ITCs on a variety of cancer cells, including lung, breast, and colon cancer, with and without the defective tumor suppressor gene. They found that ITCs are capable of removing the defective p53 protein but apparently leave the normal ones alone. Drugs based on natural or custom-engineered ITCs could improve the effectiveness of current cancer treatments or lead to new strategies for treating and preventing cancer.

OSHA Revises National Emphasis Program to Address Diacetyl and Diacetyl Substitutes

OSHA recently revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Microwave Popcorn Processing Plants. The purpose of this revised NEP is to minimize or eliminate worker exposure to the hazards associated with microwave popcorn manufacturing.

Diacetyl is a chemical used to add flavor and aroma to food and other products. Some workers who breathe diacetyl on the job have become disabled or have died from severe lung disease. Some manufacturers of microwave popcorn are now using diacetyl substitutes such as 2,3-pentanedione, diacetyl trimer, and acetoin among others. Recent studies have shown that 2,3-pentanedione has produced similar health effects as diacetyl, and therefore, may also cause harm to workers.

“It is alarming that workers continue to be at risk of dying from exposure to diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Illnesses and death from these chemicals are preventable and this revised directive will help ensure that employers use necessary measures to protect workers from this hazard.”

OSHA’s efforts to minimize or eliminate workers’ exposure to microwave popcorn manufacturing hazards include inspection targeting, directions for controlling chemical hazards, and extensive compliance assistance. Inspections conducted under this NEP will target facilities where workers are manufacturing or processing microwave popcorn.

Currently, OSHA has permissible exposure limits (PEL) for some diacetyl substitutes, however most flavorings do not have PELs. Additionally, microwave popcorn manufacturing facilities are subject to other applicable OSHA mandatory standards including Respiratory Protection and Hazard Communication.

For more safety and health information on diacetyl and other food flavorings, see OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page on Lung Disease Related to Butter Flavorings Exposure. OSHA’s Safety and Health Information Bulletin and companion Worker Alert recommend engineering and work practice controls for regulating diacetyl and diacetyl substitute exposures in the workplace.

Grain Elevator Operators Cited for Willful Safety, Child Labor Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor has fined Haasbach LLC in Mount Carroll, Illinois, and Hillsdale Elevator Co., in Geneseo and Annawan, Illinois, following the deaths of three workers, including two teenagers. The workers were killed when they suffocated after being engulfed by grain.

“The tragic deaths of three people could have been prevented had the grain bin owners and operators followed the occupational safety standards and child labor laws,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “It is unconscionable to allow a minor to work in any high-hazard area. Haasbach’s and Hillsdale’s disregard for the law and commonsense safety practices has led to devastation for three families.”

At least 25 U.S. workers were killed in grain entrapments last year, and the numbers of entrapments are increasing, according to researchers at Purdue University. There were more grain entrapments in 2010 than in any year since they started collecting data on entrapments in 1978.

“Grain entrapments kill workers. All employers, especially those in high-hazard industries, must prevent workers from being hurt or killed as a result of recognized hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “There is absolutely no excuse for any worker to be killed in this type of incident.”

The fines to both companies total $1,352,125. Haasbach was issued 24 OSHA citations with a penalty of $555,000 following an investigation into the deaths of the two young workers, Wyatt Whitebread and Alex Pacas (ages 14 and 19 years old, respectively), at the company’s grain elevator in Mount Carroll. A 20-year-old man also was seriously injured in the July 2010 incident when all three became entrapped in corn more than 30 feet deep. At the time of the incident, the workers were “walking down the corn” to make it flow while machinery used for evacuating the grain was running.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division’s separate investigation found that Haasbach violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s Child Labor standards for employing anyone less than 18 years of age to perform hazardous jobs prohibited by the act. As a result, the division issued Haasbach $68,125 in civil money penalties. More information on child labor rules and hazardous occupations can be found at http://www.dol.gov/elaws.

Hillsdale Elevator was issued 22 citations by OSHA following the death of a 49-year-old worker, Raymond Nowland, who was engulfed by corn in a storage bin at the company’s facility in Geneseo. OSHA discovered additional violations during a later inspection of the company’s Annawan facility. Consequently, OSHA issued the company $729,000 in fines.

Since 2009, OSHA has fined grain operators in Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, and Wisconsin following similar preventable fatalities and injuries. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter to grain elevator operators warning them not to allow workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions, and training. “OSHA will not tolerate non-compliance with the Grain Handling Facilities standard,” said Michaels in the letter. “We will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible.”

OSHA’s Region V, which includes Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin, initiated a Grain Safety Local Emphasis Program in August 2010, and has since conducted 61 inspections and issued 163 violations to grain operators/facilities. The violations cover hazards associated with grain engulfment, machine guarding, lockout/tagout of dangerous equipment to prevent accidental energization start-up, electricity, falls, employee training, and combustible dust hazards.

These investigations also fall under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe, industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards, employee exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals, and all per-instance citation (egregious) enforcement actions.

The Acadia Hospital Cited for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards

OSHA cited The Acadia Hospital in Bangor, Maine, for failing to provide its employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence. OSHA’s action follows an inspection begun in July 2010 in response to worker complaints.

OSHA’s inspection identified at least 115 instances between 2008 and 2010 in which employees of the psychiatric hospital and clinic were assaulted on the job by violent patients. As a result, OSHA has cited the hospital for an alleged serious violation of the agency’s general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury, along with six other-than-serious citations.

“The serious citation points to the clear and pressing need for the hospital to develop a comprehensive, continuous and effective program that will proactively evaluate, identify and prevent conditions that place workers in harm’s way,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator.

OSHA’s serious citation includes several suggested means of abatement that the hospital can pursue to address the workplace violence issue. These include:

  • Creating a stand-alone written violence prevention program for the entire hospital that includes a workplace violence hazard assessment and security analysis; development of workplace violence controls; a recordkeeping system designed to report any violent incidents; a statement that includes a zero tolerance policy for workplace violence and assigns oversight and prevention responsibilities; and an annual review and updating of the program.
  • Developing workplace violence controls—including administrative and engineering—to prevent potential workplace incidents.
  • Ensuring that all patients are screened for potential violence prior to hospital admittance.
  • Conducting extensive training so that all affected employees are aware of the hospital’s workplace violence program and know how to access information about it.
  • Using a system that flags a patient’s chart any time there is a history or act of violence and training staff to understand the system.
  • Ensuring that adequate numbers of properly trained security personnel are available to render assistance in an instance of workplace violence.
  • Limiting employees from working alone or in secluded places with patients and configuring the workplace to maximize an employee’s ability to escape in the event of violence.
  • Developing and implementing specific actions for employees to take in the event of a workplace violence incident as well as specific procedures for reporting workplace violence incidents to both hospital management and law enforcement authorities.

“Workplace violence is a serious issue affecting many workers and employers across this nation, but it is one that can be addressed if employers take systematic, thorough and continual action,” said Kent.

The serious citation carries a proposed fine of $6,300. The six other-than-serious citations, with a total of $5,400 in fines, are for inadequate or incomplete recording of workplace injuries or illnesses. 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.

OSHA Fines Roytex $46,000

OSHA has cited Roytex Inc., in Meridian, Mississippi, with 18 serious safety and health violations for exposing workers to electrical hazards, flaking lead paint, asbestos, and other hazards. Proposed fines total $46,340.

Following a safety inspection, OSHA has cited Roytex for 14 serious violations with a proposed penalty of $33,740. The hazards include failing to provide fixed stairs and railings where required; lack of a back-up alarm for a powered industrial truck; failing to block the wheels of trailers being loaded and unloaded; several electrical deficiencies; and failing to provide machine guarding at pinch points between the belt and pulley on the conveyor.

A separate health inspection revealed four serious violations with $12,600 in proposed penalties. These include failing to treat and label insulation-containing asbestos; monitoring for employee exposure to asbestos; failing to keep surfaces free from accumulation of lead from flaking and pealing wall paint; and failing to provide a written hazard communication program addressing how to work safely with hazardous chemicals.

“OSHA will not allow companies to endanger the safety and health of its workers as a means to reduce business expenses,” said Clyde Payne, OSHA’s area director in Jackson, Mississippi.

SPA Pipe and Supply Cited for Multiple Safety and Health Hazards

OSHA has issued 20 serious and two other-than-serious citations to SPA Pipe and Supply LP in Abilene, Texas, doing business as Smith Pipe, after an inspection at the company’s facility on Highway 277. The inspection, initiated August 2, 2010, found that workers were being exposed to electrical deficiencies, possible leakage that could lead to a fire or explosion, and other violations with the potential to cause injuries. Proposed penalties total $45,600.

“This company exposed its employees to preventable workplace hazards,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in El Paso, Texas. “Employers must provide a safe and healthful working environment for their employees.”

Serious citations allege failure to ensure compressed oxygen and acetylene gas cylinders were stored separately, ensure overhead cranes were periodically inspected, ensure exposed live electrical wires were de-energized, and train employees on hazard communication and permit-required confined space entry procedures.

The other-than-serious citations allege failure to ensure enough toilets were available for the number of employees working at the facility and to ensure that first aid kits were adequately stocked.

Smith Pipe, an oil tank manufacturing company that employs about 180 workers at its Abilene facility, has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in El Paso, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

KOL Marble and Granite Cited for Silica Exposure, Other Health and Safety Hazards

OSHA cited KOL Marble and Granite for 15 workplace health and safety violations, including employee exposure to silica, at its Cherry Hill, New Jersey, facility. Proposed penalties total $48,600.

OSHA initiated an inspection on October 8, 2010, in response to a complaint alleging that employees were exposed to silica dust while dry cutting stone. As a result of the inspection, the company received citations for 14 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation.

“Overexposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA’s Marlton Area Office in New Jersey. “It is vital that the company abate all of the identified hazards to ensure that employees have a safe and healthy work environment.”

The alleged serious violations include the company’s failure to have engineering and/or administrative controls in place for employee overexposure to respirable dusts that contain 28% silica; establish or implement a written respiratory protection program; train employees on the hazards of silica; implement a written hazard communication program for employees exposed to silica; properly guard machines; properly train forklift operators; provide effective respiratory training; conduct a hazard assessment; ensure that employees use appropriate eye protection when exposed to flying particles; provide noise training to employees who were over the permissible exposure level; and conduct audiometric testing for employees who were over the permissible exposure level.

The company also was cited for one other-than-serious violation for failing to maintain injury and illness logs for 2009.

KOL Marble and Granite fabricates and installs several types of stones including granite, cambria, zodiaq, ceasarstone, and silestone.

OSHA Cites APC Paper Co. Inc. Following Worker Death

OSHA has cited APC Paper Co., Inc., for alleged willful, repeat, and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards following the July 26, 2010, death of a worker at the company’s paper mill in Claremont, New Hampshire.

The worker died after he was pulled into the running nip points of a paper roller while hand-feeding paper into the roller. OSHA’s inspection found that the company failed to provide an effective means of directing paper into the roller’s nip points that would have precluded the hand-feeding. The company also failed to guard various other moving parts on the paper machine against employee contact. As a result, OSHA issued APC Paper three willful citations for these conditions. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

“Had the company utilized a safe and effective means of automatically feeding the roller, instead of relying on hand-feeding, this incident and the resulting loss of this worker’s life would not have occurred,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s area director for New Hampshire.

OSHA issued the company seven serious citations for more hazards at the mill, including lack of guardrails on the paper machine and the building’s roof; not training employees who worked on and tested live electrical equipment; not de-energizing live equipment and employing safe electrical work practices; not providing employees with hearing protection refitting and retraining when hearing loss was detected; and additional machine guarding hazards. Three other-than-serious citations were issued for incomplete and inadequate recording of hearing loss, and other illness and injury data.

The company was issued one repeat citation for not guarding the calendar stack on the paper machine, a hazardous condition similar to one that OSHA cited in November 2009 at the company’s Norfolk, New York, plant. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

APC Paper Co., Inc., faces a total of $288,000 in proposed fines, including $210,000 for the willful citations, $40,000 for the serious citations, $3,000 for the other-than-serious citations, and $35,000 for the repeat citation.

OSHA Cites Roofing Company Following Fatality

OSHA cited Spray Polyurethane Foam with five alleged serious and one other-than-serious violation for failing to provide fall protection resulting from an investigation into a fatality at the company’s worksite in El Paso, Texas.

OSHA’s El Paso Area Office initiated the investigation on August 25, 2010, following a report that an employee fell almost 30 feet through the roof and died at the company’s worksite at 9600 Plaza Circle. The investigation found that the roof of the facility did not have the required strength and structural integrity for repair work to be performed.

The serious violations include failing to determine if the roof had sufficient structural integrity for making roof repairs, provide employees with fall protection systems and/or personal fall arrest systems, and provide training for employees exposed to possible fall hazards.

An other-than-serious violation was issued for failing to contact OSHA within eight hours to report the fatality.

Proposed penalties for the serious and other-than-serious violations total $8,700.

In October 2010, an employee of another company in El Paso, Empire Roofing, fell through a skylight while making roof repairs. In May 2010, a worker employed by Parsons Roofing in El Paso fell through a roof while repairing roof decking that was rotted and had not been inspected for strength and structural integrity. In both incidents, employees sustained severe injuries while performing roofing repair work.

“Falls are one of the most common and well-known hazards at a worksite, and can injure or kill a worker in a matter of seconds,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in El Paso. “OSHA is dedicated to providing a safe and healthful workplace. All three incidents could have been avoided had the employees been provided with fall protection and training.”

OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform residential construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

OSHA Cites Sherriff-Goslin Co. for Failing to Protect Roofing Workers from Fall Hazards

OSHA cited roofing contractor Sherriff-Goslin Co., of Mansfield, Ohio, with one alleged willful and one repeat safety violation for failing to provide fall protection for employees working on a residential roofing project in Sandusky, Ohio. The company faces penalties totaling $86,500.

The citation follows an investigation OSHA conducted November 9, 2010, under the residential construction and fall protection emphasis program. Sherriff-Goslin has been issued one willful citation, with a proposed penalty of $70,000, for failing to provide fall protection on a steep-sloped roof where workers were exposed to a 27-foot fall hazard.

“Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace. Sherriff-Goslin Co. has a history of failing to follow standards to protect workers from fall hazards,” said Jule Hovi, OSHA’s area director in Toledo, Ohio. “This is unacceptable, and OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by safety and health regulations.”

Sherriff-Goslin also was has been issued one repeat citation, with a proposed penalty of $16,500, for failing to ensure workers exposed to overhead hazards were wearing proper head protection. The company was cited for lack of head protection in June 2009, as well as a lack of fall protection at jobsites in June 2009, and July, August, and September 2010.

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