New Study Reveals Indoor Hazards of Water-Damaged Buildings

May 06, 2005

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NIOSH scientists and an outside colleague found that water-damaged facilities had a higher prevalence of asthma and other respiratory symptoms than expected. This research introduced more evidence that water damage contributing to mold and other microbial growth can negatively affect employeesÆ respiratory health and business productivity.

The study is part of NIOSHÆs ongoing research program to improve the understanding of indoor environmental quality, prevent building-related illnesses, and provide practical guidance for maintaining healthy buildings. The study, Respiratory Morbidity in Office Workers in a Water-Damaged Building, was published in the April 2005 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. More information on indoor environmental quality research at NIOSH is available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv.




Missing Guard Rails and Lockout/Tagout Leads to $76,000 Fine

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OSHA has cited Golden State Food Corporation for exposing workers to safety and health hazards at its Conyers, Ga., plant. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $76,000.

The company was issued one willful citation, with a maximum proposed penalty of $55,000, for failing to provide guardrails on work-station platforms that were four or more feet above ground level.

"Workers brought this safety hazard to management's attention," said Gei-Thae Breezley, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director. "When the company failed to correct the hazard, our office was contacted,"

The agency issues a willful citation when a company has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company was also cited for other workplace hazards observed during the Nov. 30 inspection. Included in the citations were: inadequate electrical wiring; failure to provide employees with personal protective equipment; lack of an emergency eye-wash station; and failure to develop and implement a lockout-tagout program that rendered machinery inoperable during maintenance and repair. Proposed penalties total $21,000.




Construction Partnerships Signed in Washington, D.C., Connecticut

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OSHA's Hartford, CT, area office formed a safety and health construction partnership April 15 with Turner Construction Company and The Greater Hartford-New Britain Building and Construction Trades Council to further worker safety and health during construction of Hartford's Town Square Project. The two-year project is expected to involve more than 50 subcontractors and nearly 600 trades' employees. A national partnership was renewed April 20 between OSHA and AMEC Americas. That agreement encourages construction employers to improve their safety and health performance and eliminate common workplace hazards in the construction industry.




New Fact Sheets Highlight Young Workers, Hispanic Outreach

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OSHA recently published two fact sheets highlighting safety and health issues for two specific groups of workers. The Young Workers fact sheet places youth worker safety and health materials at your fingertips. The fact sheet has information on OSHA's young worker coordinators, the Federal Network for Young Worker Safety and Health (FedNet), the Department of Labor-sponsored YouthRules! program and more. Hispanic Outreach is a new fact sheet that outlines OSHA's multi-pronged approach to improving workplace safety and health for Hispanic workers, and includes infor mation on many Spanish-language publications available on the agency's website. The publication also spotlights OSHA's Compliance Assistance web page for Hispanic Employers and Workers.

Two previously published NIOSH Workplace Solutions Publications are now available for download in Spanish, in addition to the English versions.

Workplace Solutions: Ground Fall Injuries in Underground Stone Mines
Workplace Solutions: Divers Beware: Training Dives Present Serious Hazards to Fire Fighters




OSHA Fines Alabama Foundry $71,000 Following Fatal Accident

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OSHA has cited United States Pipe and Foundry Company and proposed penalties totaling $71,000 following inspections at the company's Bessemer plant in response to a fatal accident last fall.

On Oct 27, dislodged crane cables struck and killed a foundry employee. Although the company is a molten metal industry health "partner" with OSHA, the agency began a fatality investigation Oct. 28, and initiated plant-wide safety and health inspections on Nov. 4.

"Partnerships, in general, have proven to be an effective tool in reducing worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses. This company focused on reducing employee exposure to noise, silica and lead but failed to address other serious hazards not specified in the partnership agreement," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director.

The company received two serious citations directly related to the fatality, with proposed penalties of $9,500, for failing to have a safety latch on a gantry crane hook and failing to ensure that employees used personal protective equipment, such as hard hats.

OSHA also issued 20 additional serious citations, with proposed penalties of $61,500, alleging other deficiencies in gantry and overhead cranes; inadequate personal protective equipment and eye wash stations for employees working with corrosive materials; improper labeling and storage of hazardous chemicals; failing to provide employees with safety and health training; lack of fall protection; failing to protect workers from electrical hazards; exposing employees to injuries from unguarded machinery; and not properly locking and tagging machinery to prevent start-up during maintenance or repair.




Advanced Personal Protective Equipment Conference

The NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are sponsoring Advanced Personal Protective Equipment - Challenges in Protecting First Responders. The conference will be held October 16-18, 2005 at the Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, Va.

Attendees will learn about the hazards posed by emerging threats, the application of personal protective equipment (PPE) technology to these threats, and associated challenges with selecting and interfacing different PPE items. The emphasis of the conference will be on practical issues of threat accommodation, standards, regulations, applications of best practices, manufacturing and distribution issues, PPE decision-making and purchasing, and multi-PPE integration. More information on the conference can be found at http://www.conted.vt.edu/appe or by contacting Tom Fisher at TFisher@cdc.gov.