October 14, 2019
OSHA has proposed
to protect workers in shipyards and construction from beryllium exposure by more appropriately tailoring the requirements of the standards to the exposures in these industries.
The proposal ensures consistency with the general industry standard where appropriate based on a July 2017 final rule clarifying certain requirements with respect to materials containing only trace amounts of beryllium. The proposed changes would maintain safety and health protections for workers, while facilitating compliance with the standards, and yielding some cost savings.
The proposed rule would revise the following paragraphs: Definitions; Methods of Compliance; Respiratory Protection; Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment; Hygiene Areas and Practices; Housekeeping; Medical Surveillance; Hazard Communication; and Recordkeeping. The proposal also sets a hearing date for December 3, 2019. OSHA will continue enforcement of the permissible exposure limit.
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Ohio Foundry Cited for Exposing Employees to Crystalline Silica, Falls and Amputation Hazards
OSHA has cited Liberty Casting Company for exposing employees to crystalline silica above the permissible exposure levels at the Delaware, Ohio, foundry. The company faces $270,048 in proposed penalties for three repeated and 18 serious health violations.
OSHA inspectors determined that the company failed to implement engineering and work practice controls to limit employee exposure to silica, provide and require the use of respirators, develop an exposure control plan and medical surveillance procedures, and train employees on OSHA's silica standards. The company also failed to provide personal protective equipment; conduct hazard assessments; use adequate machine guarding, and develop lockout/tagout control procedures; and exposed employees to fall and electrical hazards.
"Exposure to silica can cause health disorders, including kidney disease and lung cancer," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "Employers using products containing silica in their operations are required to take all precautions to ensure employees are protected from life-threatening diseases."
"Employers should develop comprehensive safety and health programs to ensure that workers are trained about hazards in the workplace and proper safety and health precautions," said OSHA Area Director Larry Johnson, in Columbus, Ohio. "OSHA's Crystalline Silica page
provides information on what employers must do to limit worker exposures to silica in general industry, construction, and maritime industries."
Toxic Forever Chemicals Infest Artificial Turf
The toxic chemicals used in fire retardants and non-stick cookware have been found in artificial turf carpet, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and The Ecology Center. This raises new public health and environmental concerns, including the potential of these chemicals to leach from turf fields into nearby waters.
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and bio-accumulate in the food chain. Human exposures to PFAS are associated with cancer, birth defects, and other impairments. Massachusetts is poised to implement a ground water and drinking water standard of 20 ppt for six PFAS, individually or combined.
Currently, there are between 12,000 and 13,000 synthetic turf sports fields in the U.S., with more than a thousand new installations each year, producing industry revenue of an estimated $2.5 billion annually. More than a quarter of the nation’s scrap tires (62 million) are used for playgrounds, landscaping, mulch, etc. Each athletic field uses 40,000 shredded tires for infill. For decades, research efforts focused on the toxicity of the infill, but not on the carpet itself.
The Ecology Center found elemental fluorine and specific PFAS chemicals in artificial turf, suggesting that PFAS is an ingredient of the carpet grass fibers or the backing, or a byproduct of the manufacturing process. PEER and The Ecology Center –
- Tested a brand-new piece of turf being laid at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Massachusetts for PFAS, and the lab found 300 ppt of 6:2-Fluorotelomersulfonic acid (6:2 FTSA), a short-chain Gen X PFAS, in the backing of the turf. Last month, The Intercept discovered that 6:2 FTSA killed rats exposed to the chemical and induced chromosomal aberrations in hamster ovary cells;
- Tested the backing from a discarded piece of artificial turf manufactured around 2004 in Franklin, Massachusetts that had 190 ppt of PFOS;
- Tested 8 different synthetic turf fiber samples (including Shaw and Turf Factory Direct brands) and found 100% of grass fiber contained total fluorine levels, suggesting the presence of PFAS (results indicated 44-255 ppm total fluorine), and;
- Found turf patents and industry literature discussing the widespread use of PFAS as a plastic processing aid (PPA) to enhance smoothness and reduce friction. This may mean PFAS are in many other plastic products.
“The shredded tires used as infill on fields are filled with carcinogens and other toxic chemicals, but PFAS in synthetic turf should sound alarm bells for all municipalities with these fields,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and lawyer formerly with the EPA, noting that some of the chemicals found accumulate rapidly in both blood and liver and show toxic effects on cells. “All turf manufacturers should immediately disclose whether they use PFAS in their manufacturing process.”
The PEER and Ecology Center findings may represent only a small part of a larger problem, as there are thousands of PFAS chemicals, but PEER was able to test for only 36. The levels of total fluorine found are also indicative of PFAS. Nonetheless, the PFAS footprint is large and growing, with an estimated 100 million American drinking water contaminated with PFAS.
“The PFAS chemicals we are seeing in artificial turf grass carpet may just be the tip of the iceberg,” Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center added, noting that there are more questions than answers about PFAS in plastics. “We are concerned about the environmental fate and public health impacts of these chemicals from their use in both artificial turf and other products, and the life cycle impacts of the production and disposal of PFAS chemicals used in plastics.”
Mississippi Contractor Cited for Exposing Employees to Cave-In and Other Excavation Hazards
OSHA has cited Graham Construction Co. Inc. for exposing employees to trenching hazards after inspectors observed employees installing water lines in an unprotected excavation at a work site in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The contractor faces $161,771 in penalties.
the Escatawpa, Mississippi-based company for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while inside a 7-foot-deep excavation, provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench, and inspect the trench using a competent person. OSHA also cited the company for failing to ensure employees wore reflective clothing while exposed to vehicular traffic.
“In a matter of seconds, employees can be seriously or fatally injured when an excavation or trench collapses,” said OSHA Jackson Area Director Courtney Bohannon. “OSHA standards require protective systems be installed and inspected daily before work begins.”
OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program
on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards.
Dollar Tree Stores Cited for Storage and Exit Hazards at New York Location
OSHA has cited Dollar Tree Stores Inc. for unsafe storage of material, obstructed exit routes and blocked electrical panels at the discount retailer’s Elmira, New York, store. The Chesapeake, Virginia-based retailer faces $208,368 in proposed penalties.
OSHA inspectors found boxes and equipment blocking an exit route in a storage room, unsecured boxes stacked to the ceiling, and piles of equipment and boxes blocking access to a circuit breaker. OSHA cited Dollar Tree for three repeat violations
. OSHA cited the retailer for similar violations at locations in Bronx, Amityville, Lindenhurst, and Yonkers, New York, in 2014 and 2015. Recently, OSHA cited the retailer for violations at four stores in Idaho.
“Employers have a duty to protect workers from unsafe conditions at stores nationwide,” said OSHA Syracuse Area Director Jeffrey Prebish. “Improper storage of merchandise can result in employees being struck by falling inventory, while blocked exit routes can impede swift exit in an emergency.”
Ohio Concrete Facility Cited for Exposing Employees to Multiple Health and Safety Hazards
OSHA has cited Prestress Services Industries of Ohio LLC for 20 safety and health violations at the concrete production plant in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The company faces penalties of $158,555.
Inspectors determined that noise
levels in the plant were above the permissible exposure limit, and that the company failed to train, test, monitor, and provide medical surveillance for employees exposed to noise. OSHA also cited the company for exposing employees to silica
, and electrical
"These hazards can cause workers to suffer immediate and long-term adverse health effects," said OSHA Columbus Area Director Larry Johnson. "Employers must recognize the safety and health risks inherent to their work operations and take necessary precautions to protect employees who perform those operations."
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