Free Fall Protection Compliance Assistance Seminar in Bridgeport, CT on May 20

April 10, 2003
Disturbed by a recent round of worker falls and by numerous fall protection violations found during its inspections in southwestern Connecticut, OSHA's Bridgeport office is calling upon employers in Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex counties to take effective steps to protect their workers against the number one killer in construction. In addition, the agency will hold a free fall protection seminar for area employers on Tues., May 20 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the North Branch of the Bridgeport Public Library.

Since Oct. 1, seventeen workers have been injured, one fatally, in falls in the three county area, explained Robert Kowalski, OSHA's Bridgeport area director. During that time, his office has conducted 80 inspections for fall hazards, mostly in construction. To date, 41 citations have been issued for fall hazards involving scaffolding, 36 citations under OSHA's general fall protection standard and 12 citations involving fall hazards from ladders.

"We're seeing a pattern develop and we want it to stop," said Kowalski, who noted that falls are the leading cause of construction fatalities, having taken the lives of more than 400 American workers in 2001.

He said his office's inspections haven't pointed to a single cause for the increase in falls and fall-related violations but he noted that with the resumption of construction activity after a particularly cold winter, some contractors might feel pressured to 'catch up'. Kowalski asked that they not do so at the cost of workplace safety.

"Now would be a particularly good time for employers to review their fall protection programs, equipment and work practices to ensure they're in the best possible shape," he said. "That's one big step everyone can take to prevent fall-related deaths and injuries."

Another step is for employers to utilize compliance assistance and information resources available through OSHA, the State of Connecticut's consultation service or private safety and health consultants. "We find that whenever we offer safety training to area employers, their response, attendance and desire for information is both sizable and eager," said Kowalski.

Employers in Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex counties who wish to attend the May 20 fall protection seminar should contact Leona May, the compliance assistance specialist in OSHA's Bridgeport office, at 203-579-5581. There is no charge but advance registration is requested to ensure seating.

OSHA Cites Nursing Home for Alleged Violations of Safety and Health Standards

A Buffalo nursing home's failure to adequately protect its workers against bloodborne pathogens, falls, and other hazards has resulted in $62,200 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Ridge View Manor, a Zacher Healthcare facility, of 300 Dorrance Ave., was cited for alleged repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an inspection conducted under OSHA's national emphasis program for nursing and personal care facilities. Ridge View Manor is the fifth Zacher Healthcare facility to be inspected by OSHA in the Buffalo area; the third since 2002.

The bulk of the fines, $52,700, are proposed for six alleged "repeat" violations. The violations include failure to provide specific "lockout/tagout" procedures and training for maintenance workers to prevent the start-up of machinery undergoing repairs or maintenance; not having a fall protection program and training for employees exposed to falls while performing maintenance work on the facility's roof; no eye protection for employees working with corrosive cleaners; improper storage of sharps containers; an incomplete blood borne pathogen training program and incomplete records for same.

The citations were classified as repeat because OSHA cited Zacher Healthcare's facility in Hamburg, N.Y., for substantially similar hazards in July.

"An employer must provide and ensure required safeguards for its workers at all of its facilities," said Art Dube, OSHA's Buffalo area director. "There can be no exceptions, especially in an industry that ranks high in injuries and illnesses."

Ridge View Manor was also cited for four alleged serious violations, with $9,500 in proposed fines, for improper storage of compressed gas cylinders; no post vaccine follow-ups for employees; failure to supply the Hepatitis B vaccine in a timely manner; and failure to provide initial and annual bloodborne pathogen training. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there us a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition about which the employer knew or should have known.

Ridge View Manor 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.

OSHA Cites Packing Company for Exposing Workers to Multiple Safety Hazards

OSHA has cited Shapiro Packing Co., Augusta, Ga., for failing to protect workers from four of the leading causes of death and injury in the workplace: falls, electrocution, crushed-in or caught-by objects. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $165,000.

OSHA selected the meat processing plant because the facility's injury and illness rates were above the national average. The site specific targeting inspection began Oct. 9.

"When a company places employees at significant risk, it is OSHA's duty to vigorously enforce the laws that protect them," said G.T. Breezley, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director. "Our goal is to assure a safe workplace for all workers."

According to Breezley, Shapiro Packing received 29 serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $90,000 for failing to protect workers from: falls through floor chutes and from catwalks and ladders; tripping on material, equipment, and debris scattered on the floor; slipping in water allowed to accumulate on the floors, and damaged electrical equipment. The company also failed to train employees in the proper use of chemicals and emergency response procedures.

Citations were also issued for failing to have process safety management, emergency response, respirator and hazard communications plans in place.

Three "repeat" citations with proposed penalties totaling $75,000 were issued for failing to develop and maintain lockout/tagout procedures that prevent the unexpected release of energy or startup of machinery during maintenance or repair, and for failing to properly guard rotating augers, belts and pulleys. OSHA issues a repeat citation when a company has been cited previously for the same or similar violations and the citations have become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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

CSB Revises 5-Year Strategic Plan

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is revising its five-year Strategic Plan, first issued in 2000 under the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The new draft presents three goals, emphasizing the Board's investigations and recommendations function and a model work environment for its employees.
The draft targets twelve safety products completed each year by its investigative staff. The safety products would include investigations, case studies, hazard studies, etc. It also envisions greater efforts to make CSB investigations accessible to target audiences, with an 80 percent implementation of its recommendations. Following adoption of the strategic plan, the agency will adopt a specific action plan each year in order to achieve the overall strategic plan goals. The public is invited to review this revision and send comments to the Board care of Comments are requested by June 1, 2003.

To download the current Strategic Plan, click here.

To download the draft plan, click here.

Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy Aligns with OSHA to Promote Worker Safety and Health

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw and John W. Mayo, Dean of Georgetown University McDonough School of Business and Executive Director of the Center for Business and Public Policy (CBPP) signed an Alliance joining the two organizations in an effort to foster safer and more healthful American workplaces. The Alliance was signed during the opening ceremonies of the Center's 3rd Annual Workplace Safety Summit at the University.

"This is our first Alliance with the educational community," Henshaw said, "and it helps demonstrate the significance placed on workplace safety and health, and the need to have educational institutions deliver the critical message about the value of safety and health issues throughout our society. The relationship we're establishing with Georgetown University gives us a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with scholars and business leaders to articulate and promote the value of workplace safety and health issues, but also further an educational process for the field."

"The promise of the Alliance with OSHA is to educate current and future business leaders on the significance of workplace health and safety on the economic and ethical well-being of organizations," added Mayo. "Our belief is that there are real linkages between the economic performance of companies and the pursuit of basic social welfare matters that can make safety a dominant economic strategy."

The focus of the Alliance with Georgetown University centers on training and education. Specifically, OSHA and CBPP will work cooperatively to continue an active dialogue on safety and health issues by supporting the Center's annual Workplace Safety Summit. Both organizations will participate in the ongoing Industry, Policy, and Safety Seminar Series that brings together scholars, business leaders and policy makers to discuss workplace safety and health research, while investigating the economic and ethical dimensions of workplace safety and health.

OSHA and CBPP have also agreed to encourage the advancement of workplace safety and health as a topic for education in business schools' curricula, and will also explore opportunities to devise executive education courses and publications for the current executive workforce on the business value that workplace safety and health brings.

Rounding out the Alliance is the agreement to participate in working group meetings that explore workplace safety and health and other policy issues, as well as sharing information that will be disseminated on both organizations' respective websites. Finally, representatives from OSHA and CBPP will use every opportunity to participate in conferences, local meetings or other events to help communicate the importance of sound workplace safety and health.

The Center for Business and Public Policy is part of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and provides a forum for policy makers, business people and scholars to discuss key business, economic and ethical policy issues confronting American and international businesses.