November 08, 2001

ANSI and members of its constituency presented strong testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce concerning the value of the voluntary consensus standards process with regard to enhancing health and safety regulations,

Led by Subcommittee Chairman Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA), the hearing on "The Role of Consensus Standards-setting Organizations with OSHA" provided an opportunity for the assembled committee members, Reps. Major Owens (D-NY), Rick Keller (R-FL), Johnny Isaakson (R-GA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Hilda Solis (D-CA), and panelists to discuss improvements to OSHA processes regarding the development of new standards as well as mechanisms to ensure that previously issued documents are regularly reviewed and updated. Chairman Norwood convened the hearing and set the tone for the day's proceedings: "Improving the health and safety in the workplace is why we are here today."

The Subcommittee heard testimony from a cross section of groups that share an interest in the process by which safety standards are developed. In addition to ANSI, four other organizations were invited to present their statements including two ANSI membership organizations and ANSI-accredited standards bodies: the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Also on the panel were representatives from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), a scientific research group, and Bakery Chef, Inc., a Kentucky-based producer of commercial baked goods, on behalf of the American Bakers Association.

In his statement before House Subcommittee members, ANSI's director of public policy and government affairs, David Karmol, presented an overview of the Institute's role in advocating adherence to principles of openness, balance, consensus (public review) and due process in the voluntary consensus standards process. He pointed out the positive and productive relationship that the Institute shares with OSHA and the dialogue that exists between the two groups.

Karmol indicated that ANSI had received an invitation from OSHA assistant secretary, John Henshaw, to coordinate efforts to help the regulatory body use the voluntary consensus standards process to update the documents referenced in its rulings. He noted, "OSHA cannot update these regulations without going through a full public process that the agency does not have the resources to accomplish," and added that "ANSI is ready to work with [the Subcommittee] to find a solution." Chairman Norwood said he would follow up on the ANSI offer and indicated that there would be another hearing wherein OSHA would be asked to testify. He mentioned that the hearing record would be kept open if other organizations wished to submit written testimony.

After the panelists completed their formal presentations, Subcommittee members solicited recommendations from the panelists regarding the best approach to promulgating health and safety standards. AIHA president, Hank Lick, supported the view that industry cooperation is a vital component toward improving health and safety in the workplace and identified the ANSI process as the "way to go" to achieve this goal. Both the NFPA and AIHA representatives asserted that their organizations use the ANSI process and emphasized the value that adherence to ANSI principles confers to standards development activities.

"The hearing was highly successful," said Karmol, "in terms of getting our message across to another important Congressional committee. Our message, that voluntary consensus standards are a valuable process for the government to use to assist in rulemaking and procurement, was definitely heard by the Subcommittee."


The July 25 crushing death of a worker who became caught between the frame and a moving column in a milling machine has resulted in $68,700 in proposed fines against a Canton, Mass., manufacturer.

OSHA has cited Tuthill Vacuum Systems for 21 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for numerous hazards, including failing to adequately guard the machine to prevent employees from coming in contact with its rotating and reciprocating parts.

"The inspection found that a guard located on the back side of the machine in question was inadequate in that it did not prevent workers from entering the machine while it was operating," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts. "This exposed the deceased and any other worker who entered the machine to crushing injuries, just the type of hazard machine guarding is supposed to prevent."

OSHA's inspection also identified several other machine guarding deficiencies as well as hazards involving damaged, ungrounded, misused or exposed live electrical parts or equipment; lack of an emergency eyewash station where required; failure to inspect crane slings and ropes; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; excess noise levels; and failure to train employees in hazardous energy control.

A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Tuthill Vacuum Systems has 15 working days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


A May 8 cofferdam collapse in southeastern Massachusetts that seriously injured a worker has resulted in OSHA proposing $191,100 in fines against a Boston-based contractor.

Jay Cashman, Inc., which is building a portion of the new Brightman Street Bridge over the Taunton River between Fall River and Somerset, Mass., was cited on Thursday, November 1, 2001, for alleged willful, repeat and serious safety and health violations for failing to properly construct the cofferdam and for numerous other hazards.

OSHA is citing Jay Cashman, Inc. for an alleged willful violation, proposing the maximum fine of $70,000. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

"OSHA's inspection determined that the contractor had not constructed this and four other cofferdams on this project in accordance with their designs and had made many changes to them without consulting their designer," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "These unauthorized changes weakened the cofferdams. If the workers had not been on a coffee break when the collapse occurred, the entire crew could have been crushed or drowned."

Fines totaling $85,000 are being proposed for four alleged repeat violations, for failing to properly secure cranes to floating barges to prevent their slipping overboard; fall hazards; failing to provide workers with safe access from the top of the cofferdam to lower levels and not securing oxygen cylinders. Cashman previously had been cited for similar violations in March and June 2000, following OSHA inspections at jobsites in Boston. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar violation and that earlier citation and its penalty have become final.

Cashman faces an additional $36,100 in fines for 12 alleged serious violations for not making provisions for prompt medical treatment in the event of serious injury; not promptly removing a defective crane from service; not performing trial lifts for crane-suspended platforms used to lift workers; impalement hazards; improper storage of oxygen and gas cylinders; tripping and falling hazards; an unguarded grinder; electrical hazards; improper use of portable ladders; and using inadequate wire ropes to lift and suspend cofferdam frames.


A fatal accident in George West, Texas, at an oil and gas drilling site, has resulted in citations by OSHA against Grey Wolf Drilling Co. with penalties totaling $71,000.

Grey Wolf Drilling Co., headquartered in Houston, employs about 2,400 workers nationwide. About nine workers were employed at the George West site during the accident.

The alleged violations were discovered during an OSHA investigation that began June 7, 2001, in response to a fatality that occurred when an employee lost his balance and fell from a service platform, near the top of a derrick tower, about 85 feet to the floor of the drilling rig.

The company was cited with 11 alleged serious violations that include lack of personal protective equipment, improper fall protection, improper rigging of wire rope lines that run to the ground for an emergency exit and the distance between rungs, cleats or steps of fixed ladders exceeded 12 inches.

A citation was also issued for two repeat violations: failing to provide emergency showers for employees handling acids and corrosive materials, and exposing employees to bare wires by failing to provide strain relief on pulled electrical equipment. A repeat violation is one in which any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

Grey Wolf Drilling has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with the Corpus Christi OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.