Caught-in or caught-between incidents resulted in 275 construction worker deaths from 2011 to 2015 – the most of any major industry – according to a recent report from the Center for Construction Research and Training (also known as CPWR).
About 69% of the deaths were attributed to “being caught or crushed in collapsing materials,” a 50% increase over the five-year period, the report states.
- In 2015, 68 construction workers died from a caught-in or between incidents. That is a 33% increase from 2011, when 51 workers were killed.
- Ironworkers experienced the highest rate of caught-in or between fatalities.
- Older construction workers experienced an elevated fatality risk.
- Among other major industries, manufacturing (244 deaths) and agriculture (197) experienced the next highest totals of caught-in or between fatalities from 2011 to 2015.
“Caught-in or between injuries and deaths are preventable,” the report states, pointing to training, engineering controls, safety protocols, and personal protective equipment as possible solutions.
Caught-in or between incidents are among OSHA’s “Construction Focus Four” hazards, which also include electrocution, falls and struck-by incidents.
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.
$40,096 OSHA Fine for Employee Death
OSHA has cited L.I. Aluminum Design Inc., a Naples-based patio and pool enclosure manufacturer and installer, for failing to protect employees from fall hazards. Proposed penalties total $40,096.
OSHA investigated the company after an employee installing patio screen enclosures suffered a fatal fall. L.I. Aluminum was issued four serious citations for failing to provide fall protection to employees working at heights of 10 feet or more; exposing employees to falls; and failing to train employees on fall hazards and the proper use of ladders.
“This tragedy could have been avoided if the employer had ensured that workers were adequately trained and wearing appropriate fall safety equipment,” said Condell Eastmond, OSHA Office Director for the Fort Lauderdale Area. “Falls are preventable if required safety measures are implemented.”
Free, Confidential Black Lung Screenings to Coal Miners
Beginning in March 2018, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will offer a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners as part of the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP). The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease in coal miners caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust.
The health screenings are provided through the state-of-the-art NIOSH mobile testing units at convenient community and mine locations. This year’s first week of surveys will begin March 19 - March 23 in coal mining regions throughout Western Kentucky. The following week, March 26 - 30, screenings are offered throughout Mingo, Logan, and Wayne Counties in West Virginia. Additional survey locations include coal mining regions throughout the rest of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland. Twelve weeks of surveys are planned this year.
“If black lung is caught early, steps can be taken to help prevent it from progressing to the most serious forms of the disease,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The NIOSH surveillance program provides both underground and surface miners with confidential screenings that can enable and motivate action towards reducing their exposure to coal dust.”
Screenings provided by NIOSH will include a work history questionnaire, a chest radiograph, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, spirometry testing, and blood pressure screening. The screenings typically take about 30 minutes and each individual miner is provided with their results. By law, each person’s results are confidential. No individual information is publicly disclosed.
Participation in this program gives the coal miner:
- An easy way of checking on their health;
- A confidential report regarding whether or not they have radiographic evidence of CWP;
- A confidential report about their lung function.
Miners can look for survey announcements on the program’s website, Facebook and @NIOSHBreathe twitter. Local and individual outreach will be done in all specific locations. All coal miners – current, former, underground, surface, and those under contract – are welcome to participate.
NIOSH encourages miners and their families to go to the CWHSP website to get additional information about the program. People may also call toll free 888-480-4042 with questions.
Senate Subcommittee Met with OSHA Stakeholders to Discuss Better Collaboration
Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), held a hearing on “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.”
“No matter the size of the business, the number of workers it employs, or the industry it supports, workplace safety is the responsibility and should be a chief priority of all businesses. Every worker deserves a safe and healthy workplace,” said Chairman Byrne in his opening statement.
Chairman Byrne continued, “Today’s hearing will focus on how OSHA can work more cooperatively with job creators, especially in the small businesses community, to expand its compliance assistance efforts and for employers to provide the safest and healthiest workplaces possible.”
Members of the subcommittee heard from various stakeholders who are impacted by OSHA policies. Mr. Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor for Safety, Standards and Compliance for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), outlined his industry’s efforts to strengthen workplace safety in this hazardous occupation. While OSHA has released some guidance regarding the safety hazards of tree work, OSHA’s efforts have been found wanting.
“While we appreciate these efforts by OSHA to work with us to promote safety in the industry, we are frustrated by the agency’s failure to issue a safety standard specifically for arborists. This subcommittee requested OSHA consider doing so in August of 1998 - almost 20 years ago, and in 2006, TCIA formally petitioned OSHA to promulgate a standard,” Mr. Gerstenberger told members.
“OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women. TCIA’s mission is to improve workplace safety and reduce accidents in our profession,” Gerstenberger continued. “The question is how OSHA and TCIA can be most effective in what is essentially a shared mission. From our perspective, federal OSHA could be most effective if it would adopt a rule specific to our industry.”
Mr. J. Gary Hill, President of the National Association of Home Builders, discussed how OSHA’s countless harmful and costly regulations have impacted homebuilders.
“In recent years, OSHA has unleashed a ‘regulatory tsunami’ on the construction industry—a significant growth in the number and scope of regulations, along with the associated costs of these regulations—and the process by which many of OSHA’s compliance inspections were undertaken has raised concerns from our members about OSHA’s heavy-handed enforcement practices and procedures,” Mr. Hill said. “As an industry, we recognize the legal and moral obligation to provide our employees with a safe workplace. As a business owner, I take the health and safety of all workers on my build site seriously. It is one of my most important jobs. We want OSHA to be a partner, not an adversary.”
Mr. Eric Hobbs, a shareholder in the law firm Ogletree, Deakins echoed this sentiment, and explained to members of the subcommittee what OSHA can do to work more collaboratively with its shareholders, rather than taking an adversarial approach.
“Instead of acting like the business community is the opposition, OSHA needs to regard employers as partners and treat them as such. Employers are the ones held accountable for compliance with regulations and interpretations, and their views therefore deserve respect. Instead of OSHA operating under the theory that employers can absorb whatever burden or ill-conceived regulation the agency creates, OSHA should listen and look for a more collaborative approach,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs went on to say, “For OSHA to lead the effort at improving workplace safety effectively, it must rebuild that trust. No single step or statement by the agency will do so. It will take a sustained, consistent effort. Employers will welcome having a partner in the agency and being able to turn to it as a resource, rather than just to suffer under it as a disciplinarian.”
The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections will continue to encourage greater cooperation and collaboration between OSHA and its stakeholders, while ensuring that worker health and workplace safety remain a chief priority for businesses nationwide.
Sunscreen is key to protecting our skin from carcinogenic UV radiation. However, some synthetic sunscreen components can accumulate in aquatic environments and potentially cause harm by acting as hormone disruptors. One alternative to these ingredients is the biodegradable sunscreen compound shinorine, a UV-absorbing substance produced naturally by cyanobacteria and marine algae. The shinorine currently found in commercially available sunscreens comes from red algae gathered from the sea, but the yield can vary seasonally and geographically, limiting supply. According to a new report in ACS Synthetic Biology, Yousong Ding and colleagues have sought to develop a more reliable source of shinorine by bringing production out of the wild and into the laboratory.
The team selected a strain of freshwater cyanobacteria, Synechocystis, as a host cell for shinorine expression because it grows quickly, and it is easy for scientists to change its genes. Next, they mined the cluster of genes responsible for the synthesis of shinorine from a native producer, the filamentous cyanobacterium Fischerella. The researchers then inserted these genes into Synethcocystis. At first, the production was dismal, three times lower than Fischerella production. But adding extra promoters to the gene cluster increased production ten-fold. Finally, the team exposed control cells and those expressing shinorine to UV radiation. No growth differences were observed with UV-A light. But control cells experienced an obvious decline in population from UV-B exposure. The researchers say that in the other cells, shinorine acted as sunscreen against UV-B light, which helped the cells live and grow better.
Michigan’s 2018 Fall Safety Campaign Focuses on Roofers
As MIOSHA’s Stop Falls. Save Lives. worker safety awareness campaign continues into its second year, the focus will be on reducing worker deaths due to falls in the roofing industry. While the overall number of MIOSHA-covered worker fatalities declined last year, along with a decline in fatalities due to falls in general, eight were related to roofing activities, double the four fall-related fatalities of roofers in 2016.
“MIOSHA is committed to addressing these fatalities by falls through increased enforcement, proactive outreach and collaboration with Michigan’s employers,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “While MIOSHA is encouraged with 2017’s downward trend in worker fatalities due to falls in general, and more significantly in the tree trimming industry that we focused on last year, any worker death is tragically, one too many.”
The Stop Falls. Save Lives. informational outreach campaign aims to raise awareness of fall hazards, and to educate employers and employees that all falls are preventable with continued training, appropriate equipment, and diligent safety awareness in the workplace or job site.
While falls have historically been the leading cause of death in the construction industry – both in Michigan and the nation – 2017 marked an increase in fall-related deaths among roofers.
MIOSHA will focus its outreach to roofing contractors and industry by sending letters to these employers to promote awareness of the dangers of roofing operations and the importance of safety training. Stand-down events on fall prevention will be held. MIOSHA field staff will be closely observing residential and commercial roofing activities in the coming year. On-the-spot inspections will be initiated if any serious hazards are observed.
Pickelman encourages employers and workers to check out MIOSHA’s comprehensive fall prevention website: www.michigan.gov/stopfalls that offers valuable resources that are free. Publications, safety standards, policies and procedures are available to help prevent workplace fall-related injuries and fatalities. Register for upcoming training classes or check out MIOSHA’s video library that offers many fall hazard titles, a free video loan service, and video streaming opportunities.
Also available at no cost to employers, is MIOSHA’s Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division. CET consultants are available to help employers develop and implement long-term safety and health programs, and comply with current MIOSHA regulations. For free statewide assistance, companies can call the CET division at 517-284-7720; toll-free at 800-866-4674, or visit the website.
“The best time to take advantage of these free resources and services is before an accident happens,” said Pickelman. “One of the most effective ways an employer can protect its workers is for the employer to establish a safety and health program. We can help them achieve this.”
In 2016, of MIOSHA’s covered 43 fatalities, 22 (over half) were related to falls, with six fall fatalities of tree trimmers. In 2017, of MIOSHA’s 38 covered fatalities, 15 (39%) were related to falls, with two fatalities of tree trimmers and eight fatalities related to roofing activities (53%).
“I urge all employers and employees to take every safety measure and precaution when working at higher elevations, and be alert for any hazards,” said Pickelman. “Together, we can stop falls and save lives to help ensure that every Michigan worker goes home unharmed at the end of the day.”
OSHA and Clarion University Team Up to Promote Workplace Safety
OSHA and the Clarion University Small Business Development Center (Clarion University SBDC) recently formed an alliance to educate small businesses in Pennsylvania on workplace safety and health hazards.
During this two-year alliance, OSHA and the Clarion University SBDC will work together to develop educational programs on reducing workplace hazards in construction and general industry, provide information at workforce education events, and promote free safety and health services provided by the Pennsylvania OSHA Consultation Service, an alliance co-signer.
“Our alliance will ensure small businesses are provided information to help establish effective safety and health programs, and prevent serious workplace hazards,” said Brendan Claybaugh, OSHA Erie Area Office Director.
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