OSHA announced that it will delay enforcement of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general, construction, and shipyard industries until May 11, 2018. This timeframe will ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations, and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors. The start of enforcement had previously been set for March 12, 2018.
In January 2017, OSHA issued new comprehensive health standards addressing exposure to beryllium in all industries. In response to feedback from stakeholders, the agency is considering technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which will clarify and simplify compliance with requirements. OSHA will also begin enforcing on May 11, 2018, the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries. In the interim, if an employer fails to meet the new PEL or STEL, OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance.
The final rule amending OSHA’s standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds was published in January 2017. The new rule replaces the former permissible exposure limit for beryllium, reducing the PEL from 2 μg/m3 to 0.2 μg/m3 averaged over eight hours. The rule also establishes a new short-term exposure limit for beryllium of 2 μg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period, and requires additional protections such as personal protective equipment, medical exams, medical surveillance, and training. The rule comprises three standards, one each for general industry, construction, and shipyards.
Charleston Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Charleston, SC, on March 19-21 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Jacksonville Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Jacksonville, FL, on March 27-29 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
New Orleans Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in New Orleans, LA, on April 3-5 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
OSHA to Focus on Trench-Related Hazards
Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. OSHA Excavation standards, 29 CFR 1926, Subpart P, contain requirements for excavation and trenching operations.
OSHA’s Agency Priority Goal for 2018 aims to reduce trenching and excavation hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, excavation and trench-related fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous five years.
The primary hazard of trenching and excavation is employee injury from collapse. Soil analysis is important in order to determine appropriate sloping, benching, and shoring.
Additional hazards include:
- Working with heavy machinery;
- Manual handling of materials;
- Working in proximity to traffic;
- Electrical hazards from overhead and underground power lines; and
- Underground utilities, such as natural gas.
OSHA plans to issue public service announcements, support the National Utility Contractors Association’s 2018 Trench Safety Stand Down, update online resources on trench safety, and work with other industry associations and public utility companies to create an effective public-private effort to save lives.
OSHA’s trenching and excavation national emphasis program is also currently under revision.
According to a recently released fact sheet, demonstrating a commitment to worker safety and getting a firsthand look at whether safety and health programs are working, are two of the reasons business owners and managers should personally conduct periodic walkaround inspections.
The fact sheet breaks conducting a walkaround into three steps: before, during and after an inspection. To prepare for an inspection, OSHA suggests becoming familiar with the worksite’s history of incidents, near misses, incident investigations, and hazards and their elimination, and then giving priority to areas mentioned in the hazard reports. Anyone conducting a walkaround should be wearing appropriate, correctly fitting personal protective equipment.
“Nothing takes away credibility faster than having the wrong PPE or not wearing it properly,” OSHA states in the fact sheet.
Limit the number of inspectors involved in the walkaround, OSHA advises, because a larger group can inhibit communication with workers.
While onsite, talk to the workers, both new employees and veterans. OSHA suggests techniques to make workers more likely to share:
- Assure them you’re trying to find and fix potential hazards and aren’t interested in blaming – only improving safety.
- Ask open-ended questions.
Following up on any hazards found or concerns voiced is a must, OSHA states, noting that failure to do so “can often stifle worker participation and enthusiasm, which can be hard to regain.” Managers should make an abatement plan – hazards found and solutions needed, as well as any further investigation required for more-complicated hazards. Share the plan with managers, supervisors and workers, and give periodic updates.
$271, 606 in Proposed Penalties for Jax Utilities Management after Trench Cave-in
OSHA has cited Jax Utilities Management Inc., a Jacksonville utilities contractor, for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $271,606.
OSHA initiated its investigation after an employee was injured and hospitalized when an unprotected trench collapsed. Willful citations were issued for exposing employees to struck-by and caught-in hazards, and allowing employees to work without cave-in protection. The company was also issued a serious citation for allowing water to accumulate in the trench, which contributed to the collapse. The investigation was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Jax Utilities Management Inc. has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Trenching and excavation hazards are preventable,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA Jacksonville Area Office Director. “This employer knowingly exposed employees to dangerous and potentially fatal hazards, and this injury could have been avoided if the employer had used required protective systems.”
Alhambra Foundry Co. Fined over $280,000 for Confined Space Accident
Cal/OSHA has cited Alhambra Foundry Co., Ltd. $283,390 for workplace safety and health violations following a confined space accident that resulted in the amputation of an employee’s legs. Cal/OSHA cited Alhambra Foundry for similar violations eight years ago.
On August 28, two workers at the foundry were cleaning and unjamming a 38-foot long auger screw conveyor at the bottom hopper of an industrial air filtration device without effectively de-energizing or locking out the equipment. One of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening after the cleaning was done to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space, when a maintenance worker 45 feet away energized the equipment to perform a test. The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor. Both his legs had to be amputated in order to free him.
“Sending a worker into a confined space is dangerous, especially inside machinery that can be powered on at any time,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are de-energized and locked out before workers enter the space to perform operations involving cleaning and servicing.”
Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that:
- The foundry did not have the permit-required confined space program.
- The screw conveyor was not de-energized and locked out before workersentered the hopper, and accident prevention signs were not placed on the controls.
- The worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined space attendant.
- Alhambra Foundry lacked specific procedures for de-energizing and locking out the equipment.
A confined space is defined as an area that is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work, has limited or restricted means of entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Cal/OSHA issued eight citations to Alhambra Foundry Co. with proposed penalties totaling $283,390. The eight violations cited included one willful serious accident-related, one willful serious, four serious, one willful general and one general in nature. The citation for a willful serious accident-related violation was issued because Alhambra Foundry had been cited eight years prior for failing to take appropriate measures to protect workers performing cleaning and servicing operations. Cal/OSHA has extensive information on lock out / tag out requirements online.
A willful violation is issued where evidence shows that the employer committed an intentional and knowing (as contrasted with inadvertent) violation, and the employer was conscious of the fact that what he or she was doing constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate the hazard. A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.
In 2012, Cal/OSHA launched a confined space emphasis program to raise awareness of confined space hazards and ensure employers follow proper safeguards.
Reminder to Change Your Batteries When You Change Your Clock
Clocks moved forward one hour on March 11 and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) urged Illinoisans to take a few extra minutes to change and test the batteries in their smoke alarms.
"Daylight Savings Time is a great built-in reminder for us all to check that our smoke alarms are working in case of emergency," said State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2009 and 2013 three in five home fire deaths occurred in homes that either did not have smoke alarms or the alarms did not work. More than half of the non-working smoke alarms either had missing or disconnected batteries. Dead batteries caused nearly a quarter of smoke alarm failures.
Illinois law requires every household to have smoke alarms within 15 feet of every bedroom and at least one alarm on each floor of the home.
The NFPA provides the following tips for installation and maintenance of smoke alarms:
- Install alarms close to each sleeping area of the house and on every level of the house. Ensure that the alarms are interconnected so when one sounds, they all do.
- Change alarm batteries at least twice a year. Daylight Savings Time is a reminder to "Change your Clock, Change your Batteries."
- Test alarms at least once a month.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are ten years old.
- Closed doors may slow the spread of smoke.
- Smoke alarms should be a part of a larger home escape plan for emergencies. Visit the NFPA website for more information on home escape planning.
UL EHS Sustainability Announces Free OSHA Reporting Tool
UL EHS Sustainability, an industry leader in occupational health and safety software and training, announced a free software tool that will help streamline OSHA reporting requirements.
The free online tool is built on the PureOHS platform, UL’s proprietary software solution that streamlines the data management process. With the new tool, users enter injury data once and receive outputs for all necessary forms required by OSHA.
“Tabulating data by hand or in spreadsheets is no longer the best way to keep track of workplace illness and injury. Companies in leading health and safety cultures have found that the quickest and most effective option is to maintain injury data in an automated program,” said Mark Ward, general manager of UL EHS Sustainability. “It ensures that injury data is recorded accurately and can be accessed easily. Further, digital data can be more easily analyzed within your organization to look for leading indicators that might further improve your safety culture.”
The impetus for this offering was a rule change within OSHA that requires establishments with 250 or more employees to submit their workplace injury forms electronically. Forms 300, 300A, and 301–which summarize job-related injuries and illnesses logged during the 2017 calendar year–all must be digitally provided to OSHA on or before July 1, 2018. Establishments with 20-249 workers in certain high-injury rate industries will need to electronically submit Form 300A by that same time.
March is Ladder Safety Month
Every year over 300 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. Mark your calendar to join the American Ladder Institute (ALI) in celebrating the second annual National Ladder Safety Month, designed to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities.
National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work. During March 2018, National Ladder Safety Month will bring heightened awareness to the importance of the safe use of ladders through resources, training and a national dialogue.
Exposure to Air Pollution During Pregnancy Linked to Brain Alterations
A new study performed by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) --a center supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation-- and the Erasmus University Medical Center of Rotterdam has linked exposure to residential air pollution during fetal life with brain abnormalities that may contribute to impaired cognitive function in school-age children. The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, reports that the air pollution levels related to brain alterations were within those considered to be safe.
The study showed for the first time a relationship between air pollution exposure and a difficulty with inhibitory control--the ability to regulate self-control over temptations and impulsive behavior--which is related to mental health problems such as addictive behavior and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Exposure to fine particles during fetal life was associated with a thinner cortex--the outer layer of the brain-- in several areas of both hemispheres, which is one of the factors that may explain the observed impairment in inhibitory control.
The study used a population-based cohort in the Netherlands, which enrolled pregnant women and followed the children from fetal life onward. Researchers assessed air pollution levels at home during the fetal life of 783 children. The data were collected by air pollution monitoring campaigns and included levels of nitrogen dioxide and course and fine particles. Brain morphology was assessed using brain imaging performed when the children were between 6 and 10 years old.
The relationship between fine particle exposure, brain structure alterations, and inhibitory control was found despite the fact that the average residential levels of fine particles in the study were well below the current EU limit--only 0.5% of the pregnant women in the study were exposed to levels considered unsafe. The average residential levels of nitrogen dioxide were right at the safe limit.
This finding adds to previous studies that have linked acceptable air pollution levels with other complications including cognitive decline and fetal growth development. "Therefore, we cannot warrant the safety of the current levels of air pollution in our cities," said Dr. Mònica Guxens, lead author and researcher of ISGlobal and Erasmus University Medical Center.
The fetal brain is particularly vulnerable --it hasn't yet developed the mechanisms to protect against or remove environmental toxins. "Although specific individual clinical implications of these findings cannot be quantified, based on other studies, the observed cognitive delays at early ages could have significant long-term consequences such as increased risk of mental health disorders and low academic achievement, in particular due to the ubiquity of the exposure," said Dr. Guxens.
Lamm’s Machine Inc. Fined for Exposing Workers to Degreasing Vapors
OSHA has cited Lamm’s Machine Inc., an Allentown, Pennsylvania machine manufacturing company, for exposing employees to dangerous chemical hazards. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $14,782.
OSHA responded to complaints on Aug. 30, 2017, and found employees exposed to hazardous chemical vapors from a degreasing operation in an enclosed space. The employer was cited for failing to evaluate the workplace to determine if there was a need for respirators; develop a respiratory protection program; use effective ventilation systems and respirators; ensure proper use of compressed air for cleaning purposes; and provide proper hand protection.
“Employers must monitor their facilities to ensure workplace health and safety procedures are adequate and effective,” said Jean Kulp, OSHA Area Office Director in Allentown. “Exposure to these types of hazardous chemical vapors can lead to serious illnesses and health issues.”
Carpentry Framing Company Fined for Workplace Safety Hazards
OSHA has cited Strong Contractors Inc., a Bensalem, Pennsylvania carpentry framing company, for safety and health hazards at a worksite in Lansdale. The company has been fined $213,318.
OSHA cited Strong Contractors for two willful and five serious violations after inspectors found employees working without fall and head protection; untrained employees operating powered industrial trucks; work site safety inspections were not performed; and a lack of fire extinguishers for flammable liquid storage.
“Employers are required to regularly assess their worksites to ensure employees are properly protected,” said Jean Kulp, OSHA Area Office Director, in Allentown. “Despite numerous warnings of potential hazards, this employer continually disregarded required safety procedures, and put employees at risk for serious or fatal injuries.”
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