OSHA recently issued a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems.
"The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls." The final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which will help employers and workers that work in both industries.
OSHA estimates the final standard will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually. The rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites.
The final rule's most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.
Charlotte RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Charlotte, NC, on November 29–December 1 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Burbank RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Burbank, CA, on December 6–8 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Cleveland RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Cleveland, OH, on January 3–5 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator
Aerial lifts, commonly used on construction sites, expose workers to falls. To prevent these falls and other aerial lift-related injuries and deaths, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed the Aerial Lift Hazard Recognition Simulator. This flyer gives employers, trainers, safety professionals, and aerial lift operators information on the Simulator and how to access it.
NIOSH Update on Engineering Controls for Nanotechnology
A group of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers provided an update on engineering controls for nanotechnology at a recent NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors meeting.
NIOSH Research Rounds: November 2016 Edition
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) publishes a monthly bulletin of selected research, called the NIOSH Research Rounds. The November 2016 edition looks at how: Tabs Aid Doffing of Filtering Facepiece Respirators; Healthcare Workers Perceive "Cooler" Safety Climate; Trends in Mining-related Musculoskeletal Disorders Identified; and NIOSH Intervention Model Reaches Small Businesses.
NIOSH and OSHA Engage Entrepreneurs in Noise Safety Challenge
The results are in. After the first “Hear and Now” Noise Safety Challenge event hosted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), OSHA, and the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA), inventors were recognized for submissions that aim to provide solutions to reducing hearing loss from workplace exposures. The top ten finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges on October 27 in Washington, D.C.
This first-time event, open to the entrepreneur community, provided opportunities for 10 inventors, selected from 28 challenge submissions, to travel from all over the nation, and Canada, and present their solutions to better protect the 22 million workers exposed to hazardous noise every day.
"Co-hosting the first Noise Safety Challenge was an opportunity for NIOSH to work with new partners in a novel way,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Entrepreneurs like these are an essential part of the occupational safety ecosystem as is engaging the inventor spirit to solve other occupational safety and health challenges.”
The judges awarded first place to Nick Laperle and Jeremie Voix for their eers™ product, a custom-fitted earpiece designed to provide a worker with protection, communication, and monitoring. Laperle noted the goal of his company was to make hearing loss “a thing of the past.”
Second place was awarded to Brendon Dever and his company Heads Up Display, Inc. The Heads Up product is wearable sensor technology. The sensor, which is affixed unobtrusively to glasses or protective equipment such as hardhats, detects noise levels and provides warnings and other communications via color-coded lights.
Third place was awarded to Madeline Bennett on behalf of her company Otogear. Otogear’s product is an interchangeable decorative attachment that attaches to silicone earplugs. The attachments are manufactured with licensed designs for sports teams, businesses, or music festivals.
Civil servants from partnering federal government agencies worked with the entrepreneurial community to launch the “Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge” on August 1st, 2016 with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. The event featured investors, entrepreneurs, representatives of the NIOSH Research to Practice Program, representatives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and academic professionals.
The other selected ideas included hearing protection devices, hardware/software combinations within the Internet of Things (IoT), audiometric measurement and tracking tools, and analysis systems:
- Ted Smith – Corvex Connected Safety™
- Manesha Kachroo and Bibex Das – iPING
- John Johnson – Sert-A-Plug
- Dr. Joe Shargorodsky and Dr. Wolfgang Haupt – Agilis Health, Inc.
- Dr. James Craner – webOSCAR™
- Rudy McEntire – EarJellies
- Les Blomberg – TTS Detector
For more information and pictures, go to the DOL Hear and Now webpage at: https://www.dol.gov/featured/hearing/. For more on hearing loss prevention, see the NIOSH topic page: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/.
Indiana Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Again Fall to Historic Low
The Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) released its annual nonfatal workplace injury and illness report for 2015. Indiana’s nonfatal occupational injury and illness rate matched its historic low from 2013 with an estimated 3.8 injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time workers.
The 2015 rate represents a 5% decrease from the 2014 rate of 4.0, and the fourth consecutive year the injury and illness rate has been at or below 4.0.
“The foundation of Indiana’s success in safety and health is based on cooperative relationships with Hoosier employers,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “These historic low rates demonstrate the continued dedication of employers, employees, IOSHA enforcement and INSafe programs, organized labor, trade associations, and safety councils to the safety of Hoosiers in the workplace.”
Some findings in the 2015 report include:
- The overall state nonfatal injury and illness rate for 2015 is 3.8 injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time workers, the lowest rate since the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) report was introduced in its current form in 1992. The 2015 rate represents a one-year decline of 5% from the 2014 rate and is consistent with the 2013 rate.
- The real estate and rental and leasing industry experienced the greatest one-year decline in nonfatal worker injuries and illnesses, 58%.
- The Indiana construction industry experienced an 18% decline in nonfatal worker injuries and illnesses from 2014 (2.8 per 100 full-time workers in 2015 compared to 3.4 in 2014).
- The Hoosier manufacturing industry saw a 4% decrease in injuries and illnesses from the 2014 rate of 4.9 to 4.7 in 2015.
Tertiary-Butyl Acetate (TBAc) Cancer Unit Risk Factor (URF) Document Reviewed
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released a revised draft document summarizing the carcinogenicity and derivation of an inhalation cancer unit risk factor (URF) for tertiary-Butyl Acetate (TBAc). Inhalation cancer unit risk factors are used to estimate lifetime cancer risks associated with inhalation exposure to a carcinogen. These documents will be reviewed and discussed by the Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants (SRP) at its meeting on December 14, 2016 in Sacramento, CA.
OEHHA is required to develop guidelines for conducting health risk assessments under the Air Toxics Hot Spots Program (Health and Safety Code Section 44360(b)(2)). In response to this statutory requirement, OEHHA develops URFs for many air pollutants. The TBAc URF was developed using the most recent “Air Toxics Hot Spots Program Technical Support Document for Cancer Potency Factors,” finalized by OEHHA in 2009.
A draft of the TBAc URF document was released for a 60-day public review and comment period on August 14, 2015. One set of comments was received. The TBAc URF document was revised in response to those comments. The values proposed are as follows:
- Unit Risk Factor: 1.9 X 10-6 (µg/m3)-1
- Inhalation Slope Factor: 6.7 X10-6 (mg/kg-day)-1
- Oral Slope Factor: 7.0 X10-3 (mg/kg-day)-1
Send inquiries concerning technical matters or availability of the documents to:
Dr. John Budroe
Chief, Air Toxicology and Risk Assessment Section
Air, Community, and Environmental Research Branch
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
1515 Clay Street, 16th Floor
Oakland, CA, 94612
Ethylene Glycol n-mono Butyl Ether (EGBE) RELs – Draft for Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants (SRP)
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) released a revised draft document summarizing the toxicity and derivation of RELs for Ethylene Glycol n-mono Butyl Ether (EGBE). These documents will be reviewed and discussed by the Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants (SRP) at its meeting on December 14, 2016 in Sacramento, California. RELs are airborne concentrations of a chemical that are not anticipated to result in adverse non–cancer health effects for specified exposure durations in the general population, including sensitive subpopulations.
OEHHA is required to develop guidelines for conducting health risk assessments under the Air Toxics Hot Spots Program (Health and Safety Code Section 44360(b)(2)). In response to this statutory requirement, OEHHA develops RELs for many air pollutants. The EGBE RELs were developed using the most recent “Air Toxics Hot Spots Program Technical Support Document for the Derivation of Noncancer Reference Exposure Levels,” finalized by OEHHA in 2008.
A draft of the EGBE REL document was released for a 60-day public review and comment period on August 14, 2015. One set of comments was received. The EGBE REL document was revised in response to those comments. The post-public comment version of the EGBE REL document and the Responses to those comments were released on February 3, 2016, and reviewed by the SRP on March 4, 2016. The EGBE REL document version being released has been revised in response to the comments made by the SRP during the March 4, 2016 meeting.
The values proposed are as follows:
- Acute REL (for a 1–hour exposure): 4700 micrograms per cubic meter (?g/m3)
- 8–Hour REL (for repeated 8–hour exposures): 164 ?g/m3
- Chronic REL (for long–term exposures): 82 ?g/m3
Send inquiries concerning technical matters or availability of the documents to:
Dr. John Budroe
Chief, Air Toxicology and Risk Assessment Section
Air, Community, and Environmental Research Branch
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
1515 Clay Street, 16th Floor
Oakland, CA, 94612
Information about dates and agenda for meetings of the Scientific Review Panel can be obtained from the California Air Resources Board web page at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/srp/srp.htm.
Ohio Worker Fatally Injured in Trench Collapse
OSHA cited an Ohio company after a 33-year-old employee was crushed to death in June 2016 as he was digging soil out of the 12-foot trench in Washington Township, when the trench walls around him collapsed—burying him in thousands of pounds of dirt. Rescue workers recovered his body a few hours later.
He is one of 23 workers killed, and 12 others who reported injuries in trench collapses in 2016. Trench collapses are rarely survivable. One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 lb—the weight of a small automobile—giving a worker in a trench little chance of survival when walls of soil collapse.
"Trench deaths have more than doubled nationwide since last year - an alarming and unacceptable trend that must be halted," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "There is no excuse. These fatalities are completely preventable by complying with OSHA standards that every construction contractor should know."
An investigation by OSHA found his employer, KRW Plumbing, LLC, did not provide trench cave-in protection for its employees. OSHA cited the company for two willful and two serious safety violations on November 8, 2016, after the agency completed its investigation into the June 15, 2016, death and a subsequent investigation opened in October 2016.
The employee was part of a crew installing a sewer line at a residential home under construction in the 400 block of Claxton Glen Court. The agency's investigation found earlier that same day, a portion of the trench had collapsed and the worker was able to escape. Agency inspectors also learned the same worker was involved in a trench collapse about a month earlier at another construction site, because trench cave-in protection was not provided, leading OSHA to open a separate investigation in October 2016.
"This man's life could have been saved by following OSHA's safety standards that require cave-in protection in a trench more than 5-feet deep," said Ken Montgomery, OSHA's area director in Cincinnati. "Excavating companies need to re-examine their safety procedures to ensure they are taking all available precautions—including installing trench boxes, shoring and other means to prevent unexpected shifts in the soil that can cause walls to collapse. Soil and other materials must also be kept at least two feet from the edge of trench to prevent the spoils from falling back into the open trench."
While investigating the fatality OSHA found KRW Plumbing:
- Did not provide trench cave-in protection
- Failed to protect workers from excavated material failing or rolling into a trench or failing from inside the trench walls
- Failed to trained workers in recognizing trench hazards
Proposed penalties total $274,359.
OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least two feet from the edge of trench.
Training Could Have Prevented Tree Service Worker's Death
A wood chipper and an Upstate New York employer's failure to provide safety training combined to make a 23-year-old worker's first day on the job his tragic last, an investigation by OSHA has found.
The worker, Justus Booze, died on May 4, 2016, after a wood chipper pulled him into the machine as he worked for Countryside Tree Service at a job site in Guilderland. OSHA inspectors determined that his employer, Tony Watson—who does business as Countryside—exposed Booze and other coworkers to the danger of being caught in the machine's rotating parts and failed to train them in the safe operation of wood chippers. The agency also found the employer did not ensure workers used safe operating procedures when feeding materials into the chipper, exposing them to deadly hazards.
"A young man's life ended tragically and needlessly," said Robert Garvey, OSHA's Albany area director. "Countryside Tree Service bears responsibility to ensure that all phases of tree trimming, tree felling and tree removal work is performed safely. Putting employees to work with potentially dangerous machines with no safety training is unacceptable. Tree service companies must train workers—climbers, trimmers and ground crew—properly. These workers must also be instructed in safe work practices and use of equipment including chain saws, cutters and especially hand-fed wood chippers that cut and grind branches and logs into pulp."
OSHA cited the Albany-based Countryside for a willful violation for the lack of training, which resulted in untrained employees using unsafe practices to feed the wood chipper. It also cited the company for three serious violations for:
- Exposing employees to laceration and amputation hazards while operating chain saws during tree removal at three separate locations. Employees did not wear leg protection while trimming branches.
- Failing to train each employee to use personal protective equipment
- Exposing employees to eye hazards during tree removal including wood dust, flying wood pieces, and being struck by branches during tree trimming and feeding wood into a chipper
- Failing to ensure employees wear a protective helmet when working in areas where the potential exists for head injuries from falling objects
The proposed fines for these violations total $141,811.
Wood chippers are one of the most dangerous machines used in the tree service industry. Since 2011, industry workers have suffered a six-fold increase nationally in the number of amputations—from 0.5 per 10,000 workers to 3.3 per 10,000 workers. Since 2015, OSHA has received 19 severe injury reports related to wood chippers with injuries including amputations and head trauma. Of those, five occurred because the chipper pulled fingers or arms directly into the blades, and four occurred when a machine's belt or pulley caught a body part and pulled it in. The last available report on wood chipper safety shows—from 1996 through 2005—39 workers died in wood chipper incidents. Of those fatalities, 78% saw workers caught in the chipper and most of the remainder resulted from "struck-by" accidents.
OSHA recommends employers protect workers from being caught by the chipper feed mechanism by doing the following:
- Test and verify all safety devices and controls, such as emergency shut-off before using the chipper
- Train workers in safe work procedures, including operating wood chipper safety devices and safety controls in their native language. Use the manufacturer's recommendations for each machine to explain the procedures.
- Keep at least two workers in close contact with one another when operating a chipper
- Ensure workers wear close-fitting, tucked-in clothing; gloves and trousers without cuffs; and skid-resistant work shoes
- Ensure that workers keep hands and feet outside the chipper's infeed hopper
- Instruct workers to feed the wide-end of brush and limbs into the infeed hopper first
- Position workers feeding material at the side of the machine for quick access to the emergency shut-off device and to reduce greatly the risk of branching entangling workers. Consult the manufacturer's operating manual for guidance on safe feeding as some disc-type chippers requires the worker to be on the machine's right side.
- Ensure that workers walk away once the feed mechanism has grabbed the material
- Instruct workers to lay short material on top of longer material that is feeding or use a longer branch to push it through the infeed hopper
- Have workers put small, raked-up material such as twigs and leaves directly into the chip truck or in trash cans or bags instead of feeding it into the chipper
- Keep the work area around the wood chipper free of tripping hazards
- Ensure workers wear hard hats, eye protection and hearing protection
A&W Roofing Fined $307,824 for Exposing Workers to Falls
OSHA initiated an inspection on May 13, 2016, after receiving a complaint alleging that A&W employees were working without fall protection. The inspection was also part of the agency's local emphasis program focused on fall hazards in the construction industry.
The willful violations involved the roofing contractor's failure to:
- Provide fall protection to employees working 35 to 40 feet above the ground on a steep sloped roof
- Ensure workers on the ground wore hardhats to prevent head injuries from falling objects while employees installed shingles above them
- Ensure ladders were properly extended to prevent falls
A&W Roofing was cited in 2014, 2015, and 2016 for similar violations at work sites in Ohio.
The serious violations were due to A&W not having an effective safety and health program and not providing fall protection training.
"A&W Roofing continues to disregard OSHA standards intended to prevent injuries and save lives in the high-hazard construction industry. This is the fifth time in two years this company has been cited and penalized by OSHA for exposing workers to fall hazards. A&W Roofing's blatant disregard for worker safety is intolerable and completely unacceptable," said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office.
Proposed penalties total $307,824.
M&M Roofing Repeatedly Exposed Workers to Dangerous Falls
A Wolcott, Connecticut, contractor repeatedly exposed its employees to falls of 18 feet while performing roofing work in Middletown, an inspection by OSHA has found.
OSHA inspectors observed M&M Roofing employees working with inadequate fall protection atop a roof at 55 Rodgers Lane while driving by the address on May 4, 2016. Specifically, the employees were wearing safety harnesses, but the harnesses were not connected to any anchor to prevent the workers from slipping or falling off the roof. The inspectors immediately opened an inspection and instructed the foreman to have the employees anchor their harnesses, which they did. When inspectors returned to the worksite on May 6, 2016, and May 12, 2016, they again found workers' safety harnesses unattached to anchors to prevent them from falling.
"This employer exposed its employees deliberately to potentially deadly or disabling falls on multiple occasions, and has a history of fall-related violations at job sites in Connecticut. This is unacceptable," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's Rhode Island area director. "Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. That won't change unless employers take seriously their responsibility to provide safe working conditions for their employees."
Specifically, OSHA cited M&M Roofing for:
- One willful violation for inadequate fall protection
- Three repeat violations for not training employees about fall hazards; ladders that did not extend at least 3 feet above the next level for required stability; and unguarded open holes in the roof. OSHA cited M&M Roofing in 2013 and 2014 for similar violations at work sites in Manchester and Watertown
- Two serious violations for inadequate ladder safety training for employees and lack of eye or face protection for employees working with pneumatic nail guns and a leaf blower used for cleaning debris
The proposed fines for these violations total $185,194.
In 2014, there were 345 fatal falls to a lower level out of 899 total fatalities in construction nationally. These deaths are preventable. OSHA has an ongoing fall prevention campaign to educate and encourage employers to prevent falls by training workers to use safety equipment.
Elite Electric Fined $130,125 for Willful Failure to Protect Employee from 29-Foot Fall
Cal/OSHA has cited Elite Electric, Inc., for serious and willful safety violations after a worker installing solar panels in Fontana fell 29 feet through a skylight. Elite did not provide their employees with required fall protection, even though the Riverside company charged the building owner for it. As a result, the 29-year-old employee suffered severe head trauma, cognitive impairment, multiple pelvis fractures, fractured ribs, and a collapsed lung.
Cal/OSHA investigators learned that when the accident occurred on June 13, there was no evidence of fall protection at the site, despite the hazards presented by more than 140 skylights in the roof of the building, a rooftop access hatch, and the unguarded edges of the roof. The employee who fell did not receive any personal protective equipment from his employer.
“Falling is the leading cause of death in the construction industry,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “It is critical for employers to prevent workers—especially those working from great heights—from being injured or killed from falls. This employer was aware of their responsibility and completely failed to fulfill it.”
Cal/OSHA issued five workplace safety citations to Elite Electric this week, with proposed penalties of $130,125. One of the citations is general, three are serious, and one is willful-serious. A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition. A willful violation is cited when the employer is aware of the law and violates it nevertheless, or when the employer is aware of the hazardous condition and takes no reasonable steps to address it.
In this case, the willful-serious violation stems from Elite Electric’s failure to protect employees approaching within 6 feet of any skylight during the installation of solar panels from falling through them. It is a requirement that employers use such measures as guardrails, personal fall protection systems, covers, screens, or nets. Elite obtained payment for these protections, which is evidence that company management was aware of the need for them.
Head Rush Technologies to Pay $125,000 to Whistleblower
An OSHA investigation found a Denver company violated federal law when it terminated an employee for insubordination after the worker reported safety concerns about a product being manufactured by the company.
OSHA has ordered TruBlue, LLC, doing business as Head Rush Technologies, to pay the former employee more than $125,000 in back wages and damages, and take other corrective actions. The Boulder-based company retaliated against the employee in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act after the worker suggested to the company's chief executive officer that more safety research be conducted on zip-line equipment. Head Rush develops and manufactures products used for climbing, zip-line, free-fall and other recreational activities.
"An employee should feel and be free to exercise their rights under the law—especially when it comes to safety—without fear of retaliation by their employer," said Gregory Baxter, regional OSHA administrator in Denver. "Our investigation and action on behalf of this worker underscores the agency's commitment to take vigorous action to protect workers' rights at Head Rush and elsewhere."
The company and the former employee may file objections or request a hearing, within 30 days of receipt of the agency's order, before the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the CPSIA and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.
Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor.
Flacks Painting & Waterproofing Fined $89,793 After Worker Injured in Fall
OSHA initiated an investigation after learning an employee suffered neck and back injuries due to a fall. The 48-year-old worker was replacing existing balconies at the North Leisure Gardens community on Ocean Boulevard in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida.
The employee was working from a balcony when it collapsed, causing the worker to fall approximately 18 feet to the ground. After conducting two separate inspections, OSHA cited Flacks Painting & Waterproofing for one willful, four serious, and two other-than-serious safety and health violations.
OSHA issued serious citations to the employer for:
- Failing to ensure the scaffold was fully planked
- Failing to ensure adequate support of the scaffold's poles, legs, post, and frames
- Failing to provide three-tier scaffolds with a complete guardrail system
- Failing to ensure a fall protection system was in place for employees
Two other violations were also cited for failure to develop and implement a respiratory protection program for employees wearing respirators and not developing, implementing or maintaining a written hazard communication program for workers using dangerous chemicals.
Proposed penalties total $89,793.
"This incident was preventable. Had Flacks Painting & Waterproofing provided adequate shoring for the balcony, the worker would not have fallen and suffered serious injuries," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "Employers must ensure workers are protected at all times and when safety issues are bought to management's attention, swift and corrective action must be taken."