MSHA EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD ON HAZARD COMMUNICATION STANDARD

September 06, 2001

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published a notice in the Federal Register on August 28, 2001 announcing a delay in the effective date of the interim final rule for hazard communication. The rule requires that operators meet new standards related to chemicals in the mining industry such as maintaining written plans for hazardous materials. Originally the interim final rule was slated to go into effect on Oct. 3, 2001. The new effective date is June 30, 2002.

"There was some concern and confusion within the mining community about their compliance obligations under the interim final rule," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Re-opening the record for additional public hearings and comment will enable us to put together a regulation that best reflects the mining community's concerns and promotes the public interest."

MSHA will hold seven public hearings around the country in September and October. Public hearings will be held in Pittsburgh, PA; Beckley, WV; Dallas, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Birmingham, AL; Reno, NV; and Evansville, IN.

MSHA will accept written comments by electronic mail, fax or regular mail until Oct. 17, 2001. The electronic mail address is comments@msha.gov. The fax number is (703) 235-5551. The mailing address is MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances, 4015 Wilson Blvd., Room 631, Arlington, Va., 22203-1984.


IMPROPER FORKLIFT TRAINING CONTRIBUTES TO INJURY OF COSMETIC WORKER

A New Jersey company's failure to train employees on the safe operation of forklifts contributed to serious injuries suffered by an employee and prompted OSHA to cite the firm. The company is facing a fine of $101,250.

Cosmetic Essence, Inc., of Ridgefield, N.J., was cited for 17 alleged safety and health violations, centering on the company's failure to train employees on forklift operations. A worker sustained severe lacerations and chemical exposure after falling from a forklift into a 2,000-gallon chemical mixing kettle last February. He was being lifted on a pallet by the forklift at the time of the accident.

This worker would not have had to suffer such a serious injury had the employer followed the proper training procedures for forklift operations, said Lisa Levy, OSHA's area director in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. "OSHA's training standard for forklifts and other powered industrial trucks was revised to help reduce accidents like this. Cosmetic Essence, Inc. must be held accountable for this accident.

OSHA's investigation resulted in the company being issued an alleged willful violation with a proposed penalty of $63,000 for failure to train workers in the proper operation of forklifts. Sixteen citations for alleged serious violations were also issued for failing to determine whether employees were capable of driving forklifts, not providing safety platforms for workers being lifted by forklifts, and neglecting to properly guard open-sided platforms. The serious violations were accompanied by a $38,250 proposed penalty.

In 1998, it was estimated that approximately 100 workers are killed and almost 95,000 are injured each year in industrial truck accidents. OSHA's revised training standards for industrial trucks were effective in March 1999.

A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH act and regulations. Serious violations are those in which a condition exists where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm can result.

Cosmetic Essence, Inc. has 15 working days to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


NATIONAL EFFORT SPOTLIGHTS RED LIGHT RUNNING

To raise awareness about the danger red light running poses to motorists and pedestrians, the DOT's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Trauma Society (ATS) are sponsoring the fourth annual "National Stop on Red Week" Sept. 1-7. Nearly 1,000 Americans lose their lives each year in red light running crashes.

According to Department statistics, in 1999, the last year for which these statistics are available, there were nearly 91,000 crashes in intersections with red lights. These crashes resulted in more than 90,000 injuries and 956 fatalities.

"We all remain very concerned about red light running and the loss of nearly 1000 Americans each year," said ATS Executive Director Harry Teter. "However, in this program and others, we also want people to recognize that 1000 families are also traumatized by these crashes. The health community believes that this "Second Trauma" is often as harmful as the car crash. It just gives us one more reason to strive even harder to make people aware that running red lights is dangerous and extremely harmful."

This year's National Stop on Red Week theme is "Consider the Cost" to encourage more traffic safety interest groups, law enforcement agencies, hospitals and other medical care providers, law makers and others to initiate or continue local programs to combat red light running.

Communities across the country are raising awareness of red light running through press conferences, increased enforcement, and distribution of educational materials and other activities. The Stop Red Light Running program provides those interested in promoting highway safety with technical and program support for local initiatives. For further information visit http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/programs/srlr.htm.


U.S. AND MEXICO TO SHARE VITAL FOOD SAFETY INFORMATION

Leading officials from the U.S. and Mexican governments signed a cooperative arrangement that will improve the safety of the food supplies in both nations. The arrangement, in conjunction with other cooperative measures, will help reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses on both sides of the border.

Under the terms of the arrangement, the HHS' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Mexico's Secretarfa de Agricultura, Ganaderfa, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentaci=n (SAGARPA) and Secretarfa de Salud (SSA) will enhance their existing food safety partnership through expanding programs, sharing information and coordinating specific activities.

FDA, SSA and SAGARPA will cooperate to share information on the sources of fresh produce and to investigate into the causes of any contamination of these products. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and Foreign Agriculture Service and SAGARPA will take steps to ensure the safety of meat, poultry and egg products in both countries. These efforts are expected to ensure that borders remain open and that safe products continue to flow freely between the countries. The agencies will also collaborate on other specific projects to achieve common understanding on issues of mutual concern.


PREVENTING DEATHS WHILE MOVING LARGE HAY BALES WITH TRACTORS FOCUS OF NEW NIOSH RECOMMENDATIONS

Ways to prevent death and serious injury to farmers while moving heavy bales by tractor are recommended in a new bulletin by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Large bales may weigh 750 pounds or more. Because of their size, they may unbalance a tractor on sloping or uneven ground, causing the equipment to roll over on the operator. Also, inadequately secured bales carried on a front-end loader pose the risk of falling backward, crushing the operator.

From 1992 to 1998, 42 farmers died in such incidents, NIOSH reports in the new bulletin, "NIOSH Hazard ID 13, Hazards Associated with Using Farm Tractors to Move Large Bales."

Based on investigations of 11 fatalities by state researchers in Minnesota (supported by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program), the new NIOSH document recommends several precautions, including these:

  • Farmers should make sure that their equipment is suitable for transporting large bales, in good repair, counter-weighted properly, and able to carry the load safely and securely.

  • Tractors should be equipped with roll-over protective structures and seat belts, and the seat belts should be used.

  • When moving up or down sloping land, tractor operators should keep the bale on the up-slope end of the tractor and place the attachment at the lowest possible position.

  • Before beginning work, the operator should plan the safest travel path; whenever possible, the operator should use paths that are flat, firm, free of obstructions, and at a safe distance from holes, ditches, and ruts.

NIOSH works closely with farm organizations, equipment manufacturers, other agricultural safety and health professionals, and other state and federal agencies to prevent injury, illness, and death in farm work. Copies of "NIOSH Hazard ID 13, Hazards Associated with Using Farm Tractors to Move Large Bales," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-146, are available on the NIOSH web site at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hid13.html. Copies also are available by calling the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).