ELECTRICAL HAZARDS AT FLORIDA WORKSITE FACTOR IN TWO ACCIDENTS

December 19, 2002
OSHA cited Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., for failing to protect workers from serious electrical hazards at a dredging and beach replenishment project south of Vilano Beach, Fla. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $43,000.

OSHA began an inspection of the worksite July 2, after notification from St. Johns County Sheriff Department officials that two company employees had received severe electrical shocks at the site where sand was being pumped from the ocean bottom up to the eroded beach. The first worker, using wet gloves during a welding operation, was injured June 17; the second worker was injured July 1 and sustained deep electrical burns to his right arm. Both employees were hospitalized as a result of their injuries.

"Using electrical equipment without grounding protection is often fatal," said James. D. Borders, OSHA's Jacksonville area director. "These workers are fortunate to be alive. The long, painful months of recovery they will have to endure could have been avoided if the employer had taken the proper precautions to protect them."

OSHA issued ten serious citations to the Oak Brook, Ill-based firm for failure to provide employees with proper personal protective equipment while working with energized welding cables and electrode holders; failing to properly ground temporary electrical wiring and allowing employees to operate hand-held electrical tools with missing grounding prongs. The agency also cited the company's failure to repair or replace damaged portable ladders and guardrails around an elevated work area.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


WORKER'S DEATH AT SEGUIN, TEXAS, WORKSITE BRINGS OSHA PENALTIES OF $70,000

Two workers were burned in an explosion and one of them later died from his injuries because a Seguin, Texas, company allegedly failed to provide a safe working environment, according to citations issued by OSHA.

Structural Metals Inc. (SMI), a steel manufacturer, was fined $70,000 for an alleged willful violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, following an inspection that began Sept. 27 in response to the explosion at the company's worksite in Seguin.

The willful citation was for allowing employees to continue to work on a metal melting process despite water leaking into the furnace, exposing them to an explosion. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA law and regulations.

"The employer knew there was a leak in the roof cooling panel and chose not to repair it," said Paul Brantley, OSHA's area director in Austin. "It's quite possible this explosion could have been avoided had the employer made the necessary repairs."

SMI, a subsidiary of Commercial Metal Inc in Dallas, Texas, manufactures metal beams and rods, and employs about 5,000 workers nationwide and 600 in Seguin.

SMI has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Austin area office, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.




INTERNATIONAL PAPER QUALIFIES FOR OSHA RECOGNITION

International Paper Container Division of Kansas City, Mo., has been approved for OSHA's "Star" Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). A ceremony recognizing the company was held today.

"International Paper exhibited excellence in effective safety and health management, employee training and involvement, and the application of appropriate resources into these areas," Regional Administrator Charles E. Adkins, CIH said. "There are some key elements which contribute to an effective safety and health program, and management participation ranks high among them. The participation of top level management at International Paper is impressive and accentuates the company's exceptional safety and health program."

In addition to an exemplary safety and health program, OSHA's review team found that the facility had a total injury and illness case rate approximately 50 percent below the national average for its industry.

International Paper Container Division designs and manufactures corrugated sheets, focusing on the production of a wide variety of container sizes to meet a broad base of customer needs. The company employs approximately 100 workers.

From coast to coast, there are some 840 worksites in the VPP.




NEW FEDERAL "REPORT ON CARCINOGENS" LISTS ESTROGEN THERAPY, ULTRAVIOLET, WOOD DUST

The federal government published its biennial "Report on Carcinogens", adding steroidal estrogens used in estrogen replacement therapy and oral contraceptives to its official list of "known" human carcinogens. This and 15 other new listings bring the total of substances in the report, "known" or "reasonably anticipated" to pose a cancer risk, to 228.

This, the tenth edition of the report, was forwarded to Congress and released to the public by the Department of Health and Human Services. It was prepared by the National Toxicology Program, an arm of the HHS located at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health. The reports are published every two years after lengthy study and scientific reviews by three successive expert panels of government and non-government scientists.

The tenth report newly lists the group of hormones known as steroidal estrogens as "known human carcinogens." A number of the individual steroidal estrogens were already listed as "reasonably anticipated carcinogens" in past editions, but this is the first report to so list all these hormones, as a group. As with all the other medications listed, the "Report on Carcinogens" does not address or attempt to balance potential benefits of use of these products.

Also newly listed as "known" causes of cancer in humans are broad spectrum ultraviolet radiation, whether generated by the sun or by artificial sources; wood dust created in cutting and shaping wood; nickel compounds and beryllium and its compounds commonly used in industry. Beryllium and beryllium compounds are not new to the list but was previously listed as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

The report is mandated by Congress as a way for the government to help keep the public informed about substances or exposure circumstances that are "known" or are "reasonably anticipated" to cause human cancers. The report also identifies current regulations concerning these listings in an attempt to address how exposures have been reduced.

The report makes a distinction between "known" human carcinogens, where there is sufficient evidence from human studies and "reasonably anticipated" human carcinogens, where there is either limited evidence of carcinogenicity from human studies and/or sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from experimental animal studies.

The report does not assess the magnitude of the carcinogenic risk, nor does it address any potential benefits of listed substances such as certain pharmaceuticals. Listing in the report does not establish that such substance presents a risk to persons in their daily lives. Such formal risk assessments are the responsibility of Federal, State, and local health regulatory agencies.

The report is immediately accessible at http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov

For available hard copies, email ehponline@niehs.nih.gov, visit http://www.ehponline.org or write Environmental Health Perspectives, Attn: Order Processing, 1001 Winstead Drive, Suite 355, Cary, NC 27513. Requests for hard copies may also be faxed to (919) 678-8696.

Fact sheets -- "What is the "Report On Carcinogens"?" and "Q and A on the RoC" as well as background documents for the new listings -- can be accessed at http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/

OSHA RECORKEEPING FORM TO INCLUDE HEARING LOSS IN 2004

Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, employers will be required to check a hearing loss column to record work-related cases meeting the new recording criteria established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The new criteria go into effect in 2003.

"The new recordkeeping standard requires employers to record work-related hearing loss cases when an employee's hearing test shows a marked decrease in overall hearing," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Data from the new column will improve the nation's statistical information on occupational hearing loss, improve the agency's ability to determine where the injuries occur, and help prioritize hearing loss prevention efforts."

Under the new criteria, employers will record 10-decibel shifts from the employee's baseline hearing test when they also result in an overall hearing level of 25 decibels.

OSHA is also postponing for one year three provisions related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs); the rule's definition of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), consideration of MSDs as privacy concern cases, and requirements to check a MSD columns on the OSHA Log.

The delay does not effect an employer's obligation to record workplace injuries and illnesses or keep workplaces free from hazards. However, employers will not be required to use an MSD definition to categorize cases on the OSHA Log for calendar year 2003. Instead, they must check the column for "injury" or "all other illness" depending on the circumstances of the case.

OSHA also clarified three matters relating to recording occupational hearing loss in conjunction with the final rule: audiometric tests for workers in the shipbuilding industry; computation of a standard threshold shift for determining recordable hearing loss, and how OSHA will treat an expected increase in the number of recorded cases resulting from new recordkeeping definitions requirements.

Information on OSHA's decision to delay the effective date of the recordkeeping provisions and clarification on recording occupational hearing loss was published in the December 17 Federal Register.

OSHA will announce its decision on the need for an MSD column in a future Federal Register document.