October 11, 2001

OSHA announced in the Federal Register that it plans to delay the effective date for using more stringent hearing loss criteria and listing musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in its revised recordkeeping rule. While the revised recordkeeping rule will still go into effect on Jan. 1, 2002, the revised MSD and hearing loss reporting threshold requirements will go into effect Jan. 1, 2003.


The Labor Department announced recently that it is postponing an announcement on how it will protect workers from musculoskeletal disorders and other ergonomic injuries because its resources have been diverted to respond to recent terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

The decision was originally slated to be made by the end of this month, but will be made later this fall, the department said. Labor Department Spokesman Stuart Roy said that while there is no specific date, the department intends to get the announcement out quickly and not to delay.

Roy said that various labor unions, which have been pushing the department to proceed with a formal rulemaking, were told of the decision prior to the announcement and "were understanding" of the delay.

The Clinton administration completed an OSHA rule on workplace musculoskeletal disorders that was to go into effect in 2001, but Congress invoked the Congressional Review Act to rescind the regulations in March. The Labor Department pledged to take a new look at the issue following that congressional action.


National safety organizations, federal, state and local government agencies and private sector companies designated Oct. 10 as the first annual "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day." The organizations asked everyone in the nation to focus on their own individual behavior when using the roadways that day as pedestrians, bicycle and motorcycle operators, motor vehicle operators and passengers.

Launched by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the event was created to call public attention to the continuing death and injury toll from motor vehicle crashes. In 2000, 43,000 Americans were killed on our nationÆs roadways, an average of one death every 13 minutes of every day.

The coalitionÆs immediate goal: a day with zero traffic fatalities.

Professional Engineer Mel Larsen, chief of the Bureau of Local Projects at the Kansas Department of Transportation and co-chair of the event, said, "If creating a day of awareness reduces fatalities, it would be a very positive thing. We hope that having a day to think about the impact of practicing roadway safety will make a difference."

Individuals affected by or involved in the campaign included engineers, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, drivers, pedestrians, highway workers, bicyclists, contractors, materials suppliers, and insurance companies. Supporters are optimistic that "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day" will become an annual event.


Exposing employees to fall hazards has led to $102,300 in total proposed penalties for three Miami contractors by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A total of two willful and 15 serious citations for alleged violations of the fall protection and scaffolding standard resulted from two inspections initiated after the OSHA office was informed by an outside source in April and again in June about unsafe conditions at the site of a building addition for the Florida Department of Transportation in Miami.

Citing missing planks and guardrails on scaffolding platforms, OSHA issued two willful citations against the job's general contractor Grace & Naeem Uddin, Inc., with proposed penalties of $66,000, following the April inspection. Three alleged serious violations involving fall hazards resulted in another $9,000 in fines.

In June, OSHA found that employees of a sub-contractor were exposed to the same hazards and additional fines of $12,000 were imposed against Grace and Naeem Uddin, as controlling employer on the job, for continuing to expose workers to fall hazards. The penalties issued against this employer for both inspections totaled $87,000.

OSHA previously cited this employer for defective scaffolds, fall protection and training violations as the result of an earlier inspection triggered by a wall collapse that injured two workers in March of this year. As a result of the April and June inspections, Grace & Naeem Uddin again received citations for unsafe scaffolding which exposed workers to falls.

"This company has shown a total disregard for workers' safety," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale acting area director. "Even after the company was made aware of fall hazards in March and the recurring problems were noted in April, the same hazards turned up again. This employer knew the OSHA requirements and knew employees were exposed to falls of up to 36 feet but took no corrective action."

Following the April inspection, three serious citations with proposed penalties of $9,300 were issued against sub-contractor E-Z Block Construction Corp. for allegedly exposing employees to fall hazards by allowing them to work on scaffolding platforms 28 feet above the ground without proper planking and guardrails.

As a result of the June inspection, Unique Plastering, Inc., another sub-contractor, was cited for four similar alleged serious violations and fined $6,000.

All three contractors have 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Failure to safely attach scaffolding cables and train workers about fall prevention has resulted in two citations and proposed fines of $58,500 for a Florida company following a fatal accident.

OSHA cited Professional Stucco of S. Florida, Inc. following an April 10 accident in which one employee died and another was seriously injured when they fell from suspended scaffolding. The accident occurred when one of the cables anchoring scaffolding to the building broke away, causing the workers -- who were not wearing safety harnesses -- to slide off the platform to the ground seven stories below.

"This tragic accident could have been prevented if the company had followed accepted industry standards," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director. "Because of the hazardous nature of the construction industry, we have a fall protection special emphasis program in Florida to help employers; however, this employer chose not to protect its workers."

One alleged serious citation was issued for attaching scaffolding cables to a portion of the building that did not have the strength to hold the scaffold and failing to train workers about the equipment they were using, about fall hazards associated with the work they were doing, and about how to protect themselves from those hazards.

The company also received one alleged repeat citation for failing to inspect the scaffolding and equipment for defects and for failing to install guardrails and to provide protective equipment so that, even if the cable broke, the workers would be protected from falling.

Professional Stucco of S. Florida, Inc., has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.