OSHA – There’s an App for That
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced the release of a free application for mobile devices that will enable workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites in order to prevent heat-related illnesses.
“Summer heat presents a serious issue that affects some of the most vulnerable workers in our country, and education is crucial to keeping them safe,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Heat-related illnesses are preventable. This new app is just one way the Labor Department is getting that message out.”
The app, available in English and Spanish, combines heat index data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the user’s location to determine necessary protective measures. Based on the risk level of the heat index, the app provides users with information about precautions they may take, such as drinking fluids, taking rest breaks, and adjusting work operations. Users also can review the signs and symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses, and learn about first aid steps to take in an emergency. Information for supervisors is also available through the app on how to gradually build up the workload for new workers as well as how to train employees on heat illness signs and symptoms. Additionally, users can contact OSHA directly through the app.
The app is designed for devices using an Android platform, with plans to release versions for BlackBerry and iPhone users shortly.
More than 30 workers died from heat stroke in 2009. Thousands become ill from heat exhaustion and other heat illnesses every year. Some of the highest illness rates occur among construction workers, farm workers, roofers, landscapers, baggage handlers, and other air transportation workers.
Effective heat illness prevention requires simple planning. Employers are responsible for protecting workers by providing plenty of water, scheduling rest breaks in the shade or air-conditioned spaces, planning heavy work early in the day, preparing for medical emergencies, training workers about heat and other job hazards, taking steps to help workers—especially those who are new to working outdoors or who have been away from work for a period of time—acclimatize to the heat, and gradually increasing workloads or allowing more frequent breaks during the first week of an outdoor project.
“OSHA’s prevention message is clear: Water. Rest. Shade. These are three little words that make a big difference for outdoor workers during the hot summer months,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels.
Environmental Resource Center has a new opening for a safety consultant and auditor. We are looking for a former OSHA CSHO, OSHA trainer, or state inspector for this position in our Cary, North Carolina, office. Applicants should have excellent writing and speaking skills and be willing to travel 7-14 days per month. We are looking for an expert in all of the General Industry and Construction standards who is capable of performing audits of industrial facilities as well as conducting on-site training.
Strong consideration will be given to applicants who also have experience providing Hazwoper, Hazcom, lockout/tagout, confined spaces, and machine guarding training.
The position includes maintenance of training materials (books and presentations), working on consulting projects, development of classes and computer-based training programs, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
If you meet our qualifications, are enthusiastic about safety regulations, have auditing experience, and have the ability to entertain students, send your resume, references, and salary requirements to Amy Knight at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a competitive salary, 401(k), medical, dental, and other great benefits.
How to Prepare for OSHA Adoption of the GHS for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
OSHA has announced that by September of this year, it will finalize a rule adopting the globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, material safety data sheet (soon to be called “safety data sheet”), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on MSDSs.
Environmental Resource Center is offering webcast training courses where you will learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented. Dates for the upcoming webcasts include:
- August 31
- September 16
- September 27
Register early to ensure your spot in one of the upcoming sessions. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372 to register by phone.
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 Amy Knight at email@example.com or 919-469-1585 for details.
The most personal encounter that many consumers have had so far with the much-heralded field of nanotechnology is the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the American Chemical Society’s weekly newsmagazine. Those encounters with fruits of the science of ultra-small particles—so tiny that 50,000 could fit across the width of a human hair—may come when sunbathers, golfers, bikers, and others slather on sunscreen during these late summer days.
C&EN Associate Editor Lauren K. Wolf explains that some sunscreens incorporate a so-called “particle-based” approach to shielding people from the potentially harmful ultra-violet rays in sunlight. Those particles are made of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which produce longer-lasting protection and less skin irritation for individuals with sensitive skin. Sunscreens containing large particles give the skin a white, pasty look. In order to avoid that, some manufacturers use nano-sized particles.
The article describes controversy that has arisen over whether those particles can pass through the skin and have undesirable effects in the body. Wolf describes scientific evidence suggesting that sunscreens with these particles may have such effects, and conflicting evidence suggesting that they do not. The bottom line for now, according to the article, is to slather on that sunscreen, since the proven benefits in reducing the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging, outweigh the theoretical risks.
OSHA Removes Workers from Trench; Cites Arizona Company for Endangering Workers
OSHA cited NPL Construction Co., for two safety violations for exposing workers to excavation hazards while connecting an underground natural gas line on South College Street in Auburn, Alabama. Proposed penalties total $73,000 following an April inspection.
NPL Construction is a pipeline construction company employing approximately 2,000 workers throughout the US, with corporate offices in Phoenix, Arizona. The company has a local office in Moody, Alabama.
As OSHA inspectors were traveling to an inspection near Auburn they passed an open excavation where workers were not being protected from cave-ins. The OSHA officials stopped and opened an inspection at the NPL Construction site, and requested that the workers be removed from the trench. One of the walls of the excavation later collapsed.
A repeat violation with $66,000 in penalties was cited for failing to provide a protective system for employees working in an excavation more than 5 feet deep. A repeat violation exists 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. The company was cited in Connecticut in 2010 and Kansas in 2008 for the same violation.
A serious violation with a $7,000 penalty was cited for failing to ensure equipment is kept 2 feet from the edge of the excavation. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
“Disregarding workers’ safety by leaving them unprotected from potential cave-in hazards is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s area director in Mobile. “The actions of the OSHA compliance officers likely saved the lives of these workers.”
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA’s website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Maine DEP Reminds Manufacturers of BPA Ban, Offers Compliance Assistance
More than two dozen trade groups and manufacturers are receiving letters from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), reminding them of an approaching BPA ban in the state and of the requirement to remit their plans for compliance with the prohibition.
As of January 1, 2012, reusable food and beverage containers like sippy cups, baby bottles, reusable water bottles, and plastic food storage that contain intentionally-added BPA will be prohibited from being sold in the state.
Manufacturers and distributors of such products were supposed to submit compliance plans identifying their products subject to prohibition, specifying whether compliance would be achieved by discontinuing sale or by the substitution of a safer alternative, and confirming that all personnel who offer the product for sale or distribution in Maine have been notified of the prohibition.
Compliance plans were due on July 5, but Kerri Malinowski, program coordinator of Maine DEP’s Safer Chemicals Program, says the department has yet to receive any, though staff does not definitively know of any company that will be non-compliant.
The one-page mailed advisory—which was sent to manufacturers and national trade associations like the Grocery Manufacturers Association—reminds recipients of the new ban and identifies available resources for additional information and assistance.
Malinowski said Maine DEP waited to send the letters until an electronic reporting system developed by the department went online. The new reporting system will make it easier for manufacturers to remit their plans and for the department to receive, review, and retain the submitted data.
“We’re serious about implementing this new regulation and equally so about offering assistance to manufacturers and distributors to ensure that they will be compliant,” Malinowski said. “We see ourselves as partners with the regulated community in this process, and as much as this letter is about reminding them of the ban, it’s also about reassuring them of our commitment to working collaboratively and cooperatively with them to proactively protect public and environmental health.”
Many reusable food and beverage containers that contain intentionally-added BPA have already been removed from the Maine marketplace thanks to consumer demand and heavy press coverage of the pending prohibition.
It’s also likely that some manufacturers are unaware of the ban, which when it goes into effect, will make Maine the ninth state with a prohibition on the sales of products with intentionally-added BPA along with Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
“We’re giving companies a fair chance to come into compliance and if we find they haven’t done so by the deadline, we will pursue appropriate enforcement action,” Malinowski added.
Additionally, manufacturers and/or distributors of children’s products for sale in Maine including toys and tableware that contain a priority chemical, including BPA, must report to the department, providing a description of their product, the amount of BPA in the product and its function, and the number of product units sold in Maine.
Those reports were initially due to the department in early July as well, but the deadline was extended to October 3, 2011, due to the need for additional time necessary for manufacturers and/or distributors to comply with the submission requirements.
Judgment Entered Against Mine Operator for More than $900,000 in Penalties
MSHA announced that an administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has entered a judgment of penalties totaling $905,825 against R & D Mine Coal Co. Inc., regarding citations issued to the operator more than four years ago. The fines were assessed in April 2007 for violations contributing to an October 23, 2006, explosives detonation that killed one miner at the underground anthracite coal mine in Tremont, Pennsylvania. The penalties levied against R&D marked the first time violations were cited under MSHA’s flagrant violation provision of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.
In documents signed on August 1 by Administrative Law Judge Avram Weisberger, the mine operator agreed to withdraw its contests of each violation and to the entry of a judgment for the full penalty amounts.
“We are extremely pleased about the outcome of this case. It is yet another reminder that mine operators must be held accountable for their failure to keep miners safe,” said Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
According to MSHA’s investigation report, a methane explosion occurred in an inadequately ventilated area when an unconfined shot was detonated at the face. The accident, which resulted in the death of Dale Reightler, occurred because the mine operator failed to comply with approved ventilation and roof control plans, engaged in poor blasting practices, assigned unqualified personnel to blasting work, and conducted improper preshift examinations. Six of 10 violations that investigators cited as contributing to the accident were assessed as flagrant violations. The mine operator contested all of the violations. R&D Mine Coal Co., ceased mining following the 2006 explosion and was sealed the following year.
A flagrant violation is defined as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.” Under the MINER Act, a civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation.
Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to Pay over $122,000 for Violating Federal Railroad Safety Act
Norfolk Southern Railway Co., has been ordered by OSHA to pay a former employee $122,199 in compensatory and punitive damages as well as reasonable attorney’s fees. The company violated the employee’s rights under the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act by terminating the employee for reporting an on-the-job injury in 2009.
On May 13, 2009, the employee was initially injured in Jamestown, North Carolina, while removing a spike from the rail line. Fearing loss of employment, the worker did not report the injury until a re-injury occurred in October when, at the suggestion of management, the employee saw a doctor. After returning to work, the employee was suspended and later terminated for allegedly falsifying the injury. The employee submitted a complaint to OSHA and the agency’s investigation determined that not only were the employee’s rights under the FRSA violated, the company also successfully intimidated other employees from reporting on-the-job injuries. This “chilling effect” allowed Norfolk Southern to maintain the appearance of an exemplary safety record and continue its 22-consecutive-year record as recipient of the E.H.Harriman Gold Medal Rail Safety Award.
“Every American worker has the right to report an injury without fear of retaliation or intimidation,” said Cindy A. Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to protecting all employees, including those in the railroad industry, from such mistreatment and will prosecute these employers to the fullest extent of the law.”
The order issued by OSHA awards the former employee compensatory damages including pain and suffering; reasonable attorney’s fees; and $75,000 in punitive damages for the company’s reckless disregard of the individual’s rights under FRSA. Either party can file an appeal to the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. The railroad also has been ordered to expunge the disciplinary record of the individual and post a notice in all of its areas where employee notices are customarily posted on whistleblower protection rights under the FRSA.
$46,000 Penalty for Combustible Dust Hazards
OSHA cited Excelso Coffee and Tea Co., for 19 violations related to combustible dust and other hazards at the company’s Norcross, Georgia, manufacturing facility, where it conducts coffee and tea blending operations. OSHA began an inspection in April as part of its Site-Specific Targeting program, which directs enforcement resources to those workplaces where the highest rate of injuries and illnesses have occurred. Proposed penalties total $46,550.
Fourteen serious violations involve the company’s failure to install isolation devices on the dust collector system to prevent fires and explosions; keep steel beams and floors free of coffee and tea dust accumulation; and develop and implement an emergency action plan and training in the use of fire extinguishers. Additionally, the facility lacked guardrails and standard railings on fixed stairs; the company did not evaluate permit-required confined spaces; an energy control program for employees maintaining and servicing equipment was not in place; training for forklift operators was not provided; the facility lacked an eyewash station; employees were not provided with hand protection against heat and cuts; compressed air was improperly used to clean equipment; machinery on the packaging line lacked machine guards; a bench grinder was improperly adjusted; the electrical panel box had exposed wiring; and flexible cords were improperly used as permanent wiring.
Five other-than-serious violations with no monetary penalties involve not maintaining OSHA-required logs of workplace illnesses and injuries for 2007 and 2009; not clearly marking an exit door with the word Exit; not providing employees who voluntarily wore respirators with a medical evaluation; not keeping the area in front of the electrical panel free of storage; and suspending electrical outlets that were intended by the manufacturer to be mounted. 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 continues to find companies engaged in food and beverage production ignoring the dangers of combustible dust and other hazards that threaten the safety and health of their employees,” said William Fulcher, director of OSHA’s Atlanta-East Area Office. “Fixing these violations now is a lot easier than recovering from a fire or explosion that can result in injuries or even loss of life.”
American Pulverizer Co. Cited for 33 Safety Violations
OSHA cited St. Louis-based manufacturer American Pulverizer Co., for one repeat, 31 serious, and one other-than-serious safety violation. OSHA’s inspection of the reduction equipment manufacturing facility was initiated in February under a local emphasis program focused on electrical safety in general industry establishments. Proposed penalties total $121,100.
“There is no excuse for such lack of attention to hazards in the work environment,” said Charles Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri. “It is imperative that employers take the necessary steps to provide a safe workplace for all employees in order to prevent needless injuries or worse.”
The repeat violation relates to a lack of grounding continuity in electrical equipment. A similar violation was cited in October 2006.
The serious violations address hazards associated with cranes, lockout/tagout of energy sources, powered industrial trucks, electrical equipment, flammable liquids, gas welding, housekeeping, and machine guarding.
The other-than-serious violation involves a record-keeping deficiency.
OSHA Cites Meadow Gold Dairies and Subcontractor for 47 Violations
OSHA has cited Meadow Gold Dairies of Englewood, Colorado, and Denver-based subcontractor Tolin Mechanical for 47 safety and health violations following a programmed inspection conducted under OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting program for high-hazard work sites as well as its national emphasis program on facilities with hazardous chemicals. Fines for both companies total $326,300.
OSHA cited Meadow Gold Dairies, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, for two alleged willful, one alleged repeat, 35 alleged serious, and five other-than-serious violations. Proposed fines total $300,300.
“Meadow Gold, as part of a large national corporation, is well aware of the requirements of OSHA standards,” said John Healy, OSHA area director in Englewood. “The violations which related to improper management of the anhydrous ammonia system demonstrate a lax attitude towards a potentially catastrophic atmospheric release.”
The willful violations involve employee exposure to a potential hazardous release of anhydrous ammonia due to a failure to implement a required mechanical integrity program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
The repeat violation relates to hazards associated with inadequate procedures for de-energizing equipment prior to performing maintenance activity. Meadow Gold Dairies was cited for this same violation in 2010 at the same facility.
The serious violations include improper preventive maintenance of the anhydrous ammonia system, machine guarding hazards, fall hazards, inadequate personal protective equipment, and electrical hazards.
The other-than-serious violations include late recording of injury and illnesses on the OSHA 300 log, and various process safety management issues.
Tolin Mechanical was cited for four serious violations carrying $26,000 in proposed penalties. The violations involved employees not being properly trained on emergency procedures and lacking adequate personal protective equipment while doing electrical work.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Fined $57,300 for Safety Violations
OSHA has cited Dick’s Sporting Goods for six alleged violations of workplace safety standards after an OSHA inspection identified several hazards at the retailer’s store at the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, New York. The Pennsylvania-based retailer faces a total of $57,300 in proposed fines.
OSHA inspectors found that workers at the Queensbury store were periodically required to enter a trash compactor that had not first been de-energized in order to remove cardboard blockages. Additionally, the store lacked the means and procedures for employees to enter and work safely in such a confined space, and training was not provided on the hazards and safeguards associated with work in a confined space. Finally, access to fire extinguishers was blocked and employees were not trained in how to use fire extinguishers in the event of a fire.
“Even in a retail outlet, employees can be exposed to deadly or disabling hazards if the proper safeguards and training are absent, as they were here,” said Edward Jerome, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “These workers could have been crushed or burned. For the safety and health of all of its employees, I urge this employer to examine safety and health issues at its other stores and promptly take corrective action.”
Two repeat violations with $33,000 in fines were cited for the blocked fire extinguishers and lack of fire extinguisher training. Four serious violations with $24,300 in fines were cited for the confined space hazards and a missing fire extinguisher.
The repeat citations stem from OSHA having cited the retailer in May 2010 for similar hazards at a store in Melville, New York.
“One means of preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program in which workers and management continually work to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.
OSHA Cites Martin & Company Excavating for Failing to Provide Trench Workers with Cave-in Protection
OSHA has cited Martin & Company Excavating Inc., an underground utility construction and earth-moving company in Oregon, Illinois, for one willful and three serious safety violations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations at a Forreston, Illinois, work site. The company faces proposed penalties of $69,300 following a May inspection, which was conducted under the agency’s Trenching and Excavation National Emphasis Program.
“Cave-ins during excavations are a leading cause of worker fatalities,” said Kathy Webb, OSHA’s area director in North Aurora. “Safety should be paramount on every job site and OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so.”
The willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $56,000, was cited for failing to protect workers who were installing a water line in a trench approximately 8 feet below grade. During the trenching operation, the water line was damaged and flooded the trench, which did not have cave-in protection.
The serious violations, with proposed penalties of $13,300, include failing to have a competent employee on site to ensure workers were removed from the trench when there was evidence of an unsafe situation which could result in a possible cave-in; failing to equip an adjacent section of pavement that was hanging over the trench with a support system to protect employees from possible collapse; and failing to keep excavated materials or equipment at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA’s website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
MM Industries Fined $102,000 for 38 Serious Violations
OSHA has cited MM Industries for 38 serious safety and health violations at its Salem, Ohio, facility, including failing to guard machinery and provide personal protective equipment. The facility fabricates filtration systems. The company faces $102,600 in proposed fines.
“Employers have a responsibility to ensure work environments are healthful and safe, which includes providing appropriate equipment and training to protect workers,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s Cleveland area director.
Twenty-six serious safety violations with proposed fines of $63,600 involve not knowing the weight capacity of a floor for overhead storage; no emergency lighting; failure to implement and train workers in lockout/tagout procedures to control the release of hazardous energy; not removing a punctured and torn synthetic web sling from service; and failing to inspect cranes. Additionally, the company failed to install machine guards on a Delta bandsaw, Cleveland polisher, Reliance polisher, portable disc grinder, spot welder, and numerous lathes.
Twelve serious health violations with proposed fines of $39,000 involve failing to have a written respiratory protection program; failure to have a written hazard communication program; failing to identify and label containers of hazardous chemicals; failing to cover lacquer containers; constructing a spray booth of flammable materials; and not providing information and training to employees on hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
Additionally, two other-than-serious violations with no proposed monetary penalties involve failing to properly maintain the OSHA 300 injury and illness log, and not properly marking a crane.
OSHA Cites Sign Company after Workers Exposed to Fall Hazards in Manhattan
OSHA has cited North Shore Neon Sign Co. Inc., for six alleged violations of workplace safety standards after an OSHA inspector observed workers exposed to fall hazards while repairing a sign at 4 S. Union Square in Manhattan. The Maspeth employer faces a total of $42,350 in proposed fines.
On May 2, an OSHA inspector observed that one employee was working on a scaffold that lacked a guardrail system while another employee was accessing the scaffold by climbing out of the elevated basket of an aerial lift. Neither employee was tied off to prevent a fall and there was no ladder or other means of safely accessing the scaffold. Additionally, the employees were not wearing head protection and the lift’s outriggers were improperly set, which could potentially cause it to tip over.
“These conditions exposed workers to potentially deadly or disabling falls of up to 12 feet to the concrete sidewalk below,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s Manhattan area director. “Having effective fall protection in place and in use at all times is critical to avoiding needless accidents that can have devastating effects.”
As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited the company for three repeat violations with $26,180 in proposed fines and three serious citations with $16,170 in proposed fines. The repeat citations stem from OSHA having cited the company in November 2009 for similar hazards at a work site in Wantagh, New York.
Detailed information about fall hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA’s website. More information on scaffold hazards and safe work practices, including an interactive e-Tool, is available on line at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/index.html.
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