FALL HAZARDS LEAD TO $49,500 FINE AGAINST CONTRACTOR

March 21, 2002

A New York contractor's failure to adequately protect employees against falls at a New Hampshire construction site has resulted in a proposed $49,500 fine and a citation for alleged willful violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA cited Frank Lill & Son, Inc. of Webster, N.Y. for fall hazards at a gas/power plant under construction in Newington, N.H.

"Sections of work platforms located 85 feet above the ground either lacked guardrails altogether or had inadequate guardrails in place," said David May, OSHA's New Hampshire Area Director. "Our inspection also found unguarded floor openings and holes between the work platforms and interior equipment through which employees could fall. In addition, a lifeline to which employees could attach their safety lanyards was inadequate or unused."

May stressed the importance of providing effective fall protection when employees are working 6 feet or more above the next work level and noted that falls accounted for 734 on the job deaths in the United States in 2000.

"Of particular concern in this case is that this employer was well aware of the need for fall protection yet apparently elected to forego providing this basic worker safeguard," said May. "As a result, we have classified this citation as willful, the most severe citation OSHA can issue."

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Frank Lill & Son, Inc. has 15 business 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.

The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord, N.H., area office.


DOES YOUR BACKYARD GAS GRILL HAVE THE NEW REQUIRED SAFETY VALVE?

A new provision of an existing safety code developed by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) which takes effect on April 1, requires overfilling prevention devices (OPDs) on propane cylinders weighing between 4 and 40 lbs., commonly used for appliances like outdoor gas grills.

An OPD is a safety valve that shuts off the flow of gas to a cylinder after 80 percent capacity has been reached. This limits the potential for release of gas when the cylinder is heated, averting a fire hazard or personal injury. Since 1998, all new propane cylinders from 4- to 40-pound propane capacity, have been equipped with OPDs.

Cylinders manufactured after September 30, 1998, are equipped with OPDs and require no change.

Older cylinder models must now be retrofitted with the device before refilling can occur, under the requirement, or the cylinder should be discarded properly and replaced with an OPD-equipped cylinder. Many filling outlets have the capacity to retrofit or recycle obsolete cylinders. In many parts of the U.S., exchange cylinder racks can be used to swap an empty cylinder without an OPD for a full cylinder equipped with an OPD, for a nominal fee, eliminating the need to dispose of the cylinder or to have it retrofitted.

NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, a consensus code developed by NFPA which contains the new provision, is adopted in every U.S. state and is enforceable by the authority having jurisdiction in individual states, be it the fire service, building officials, state agencies, or other bodies. Because adoptions within states are not always to the current editions, there are some states that have not adopted either the 1998 or 2001 edition of the Code, which include the OPD requirement.

However, because manufacturers have been producing OPD-equipped cylinders since 1998, these cylinders will eventually replace the non-OPD cylinders even in states where the current NFPA 58 has not been adopted.

"OPDs will protect against overfilling cylinders and decrease the number of possible fires from this source," said Ted Lemoff, principal gases engineer at NFPA. "This requirement will enhance consumer safety."

How can one tell if a cylinder currently lacks an OPD? If the cylinder valve has either a round or star-shaped hand wheel, it needs an OPD. OPDs have hand-wheels that are triangular in shape, but a small number of early production OPD-equipped cylinders did not. These are stamped "OPD" on the brass valve body.

Costs to upgrade or replace a cylinder vary. For information on discarding an old cylinder, please contact your propane refiller, hazardous waste collection site, or local fire department.

Download a free fact sheet on OPDs at http://www.nfpa.org/Research/NFPAFactSheets/Propane_cylinder_Overfilling_P/propane_cylinder_overfilling_p.asp.


CDC RELEASES NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE FOR THE YELLOW BOOK

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled a re-designed, interactive web site of one of CDC's most widely disseminated publications, "Health Infomation for International Travel", commonly dubbed "The Yellow Book." The Yellow Book is considered by many health care providers, travel professionals, airlines, cruise lines, and humanitarian and academic institutions to be the gold standard for health recommendations for international travel. The Yellow Book and companion web site http://www.cdc.gov/travel/yb is published biennially by CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine as a reference for those who advise international travelers of health risks.

The key to the new, interactive Web site is the use of drop-down menus for all of the major subjects in the Yellow Book, including vaccination information, yellow fever requirements, malaria information, geographic distribution and health hints. Users can obtain customized reports for individual travel plans and search for particular subjects or destinations in the text without having to search through unrelated topics.

The handy, interactive design of the Yellow Book Web site incorporated many comments and suggestions from the public and health care providers seeking more customized information in a user-friendly format. CDC encourages users to submit comments about the new web site through the "comments section" on the site's homepage.

The Yellow Book is one of many valuable CDC resources for travelers that can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. Travelers' Health is CDC's third most visited web site and is constantly updated as new information becomes available. Travelers can find guidance about a variety of travel-related health topics besides vaccination requirements.

To obtain a hard copy of the Yellow Book, contact the Public Health Foundation at (toll-free) 1-877-252-1200 or http://bookstore.phf.org. Users may download the Yellow Book free of charge at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook.pdf. For more information about health recommendations for international travel, visit CDC's Travelers Health web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/travel.


OSHA WITHDRAWS PROPOSED MARITIME RULES

OSHA today withdrew four proposed safety standards for shipyard employment safety standards, including scaffolds, welding, cutting and heating, access and egress and fall protection. The agency intends to devote its resources to higher priority shipyard standards.

The proposed shipyard rules were originally published on November 29, 1988, to update and consolidate coverage of various shipyard hazards into one standard. OSHA received only a few comments in response to each proposal, which provided insufficient information on which to proceed. Further, newer technologies have been developed over the past 14 years and would need to be incorporated before final rules could be issued.

The specific proposed rules being withdrawn are (1) Scaffolds in Shipyard Employment, Subpart N, (2) Welding, Cutting and Heating in Shipyard Employment, Subpart D, (3) Access and Egress in Shipyards, Subpart E; and (4) Fall Protection for Shipyard Employment, Subpart M. The hazards that these revised rules would address are currently covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 29 CFR, Part 1915, Subparts D, E and I.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dts/maritime/index.html

The notice of withdrawal takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register, scheduled for March 21 (see http://www.osha.gov/FedReg_osha_data/FED20020321.html).


OSHA CITES MALL SUB-CONTRACTOR; PROPOSES OVER $126,000 IN PENALTIES

Exposing employees to serious fall hazards may cost Augusta, Ga.-based Rhodes Construction Company $126,720 in proposed penalties according to citations issued by OSHA.

The agency inspected the Statesboro Mall construction site on Sept. 19 after receiving an anonymous complaint about the condition of scaffolding erected by Rhodes, a sub-contractor on the job. The site was inspected a second time on Oct. 15 after Rhodes employees were observed working at the edge of a 24-foot-high roof without fall protection.

Prior to the first OSHA inspection, the general contractor requested that Rhodes install missing planks and guardrails on an 18-foot-high, third-level scaffolding platform and provide workers with a ladder to access the area. The sub-contractor failed to comply.

During the Sept. 19 inspection, OSHA found that Rhodes employees continued to work from unsafe scaffolding. The agency issued three citations for willful violations of scaffolding standards and proposed penalties totaling $117,000.

"Falls are a leading cause of death and serious injuries for construction workers," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's Savannah area director. "This employer put workers at risk by choosing to disregard the general contractor's warnings, workers' concerns and its own safety manual."

Harrison added that OSHA's fall protection program has a strong enforcement component but also provides compliance assistance, without fear of enforcement action, for employers who seek help in providing a safe work environment.

OSHA's first inspection also resulted in two serious citations with proposed penalties of $3,000 for scaffolding that was not properly anchored to prevent it from tipping over, and two repeat citations with proposed penalties of $2,520 for allowing employees to work on scaffolding without hardhats and for scaffolding without cross bracing.

The Oct. 15 inspection resulted in one serious citation with a $4,200 proposed penalty for allowing employees to work near a roof edge without fall protection.

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

Both inspections were conducted by staff from the Savannah area office.