OSHA issued citations to the United Farmers Cooperative for alleged willful safety violations in its grain bin operations, following the investigation of a fatal accident in November.
"Employers must provide workers with protection from workplace hazards to ensure that injury and illness rates continue to decline," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $168,000 in this case demonstrates the Administration's commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."
OSHA began inspecting the Cooperative on Nov. 25, 2003, in response to a report from the Cooperative that an employee became engulfed in grain and died while performing a bin entry operation.
The willful citations alleged four safety violations that included the lack of body harnesses and lifelines for grain bin entry, the lack of an observer during entry operations, the absence of locking and tagging-out procedures for the under-bin conveyor system and failure to provide rescue equipment specific to this type of bin.
Willful violations are those committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
United Farmers Cooperative receives, stores and ships grain commodities throughout the United States. The cooperative owns and operates 19 separate locations in Nebraska with approximately 240 employees, including 11 at the Tamora site. In business since 2001, United Farmers Cooperative has no previous history of OSHA violations.
The Cooperative has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either comply with them, to request and to participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA Announces Selection of Dr. Keith Goddard as Head of Evaluation and Analysis Directorate
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw announced the selection of Dr. Keith Goddard to head OSHA's Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis. Dr. Goddard comes to OSHA after having served as the director of Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) program.
"I am personally pleased, and the agency is fortunate, to have someone with Keith's knowledge, background and experience in occupational safety and health join the OSHA team at the federal level," Henshaw said. "I'm delighted that he's agreed to accept this important position. His wealth of experience at the state level and in the private sector will enhance our abilities to continue moving the agency forward, particularly in leading the agency's efforts in evaluating the effectiveness of our programs."
Dr. Goddard is scheduled to assume his duties on May 17, 2004 and will manage a directorate of approximately 50 professionals. The directorate consists of four separate offices: Evaluations and Audit Analysis; Program Review; Regulatory Affairs; and Statistical Analysis.
Dr. Goddard earned his doctorate from the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A professional engineer and certified safety professional, he developed his background in environmental occupational safety and health in the electric utility industry. As the Commissioner for Labor and Industry in the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation for the state of Maryland, he was responsible for the MOSH program, in addition to the States Boiler, Pressure Vessel, Railroad, and Amusement Ride Safety Inspection units.
Dr. Goddard is a current member, and past chair, of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association Board of Directors. He also serves on OSHA's Information Technology Executive Steering Committee.
MSHA Releases Fourth Volume of "Mine Safety Minutes" to Communicate with Miners, Operators
The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced the release of its fourth volume of "Mine Safety Minutes," a series of one-minute public service announcements from the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health that remind miners and mine operators about on-the-job hazards and how to avoid them.
"Mining is still a hazardous occupation. Miners, like anyone else, need frequent reminders about work-environment dangers," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We ask radio stations in mining communities, who share our desire to see mining fatalities and injuries reduced and eliminated in this country, to play the "Mine Safety Minutes" for miners in their area."
The newest volume of "Mine Safety Minutes" discusses risks with mobile equipment and how accidents involving this equipment killed nearly one-third of all mining accident victims last year. Lauriski tells listeners to thoroughly inspect equipment and wear seat belts whenever operating mobile equipment.
First developed and produced for distribution early in 2003, the "Mine Safety Minutes" are packaged on compact disks. Past audio messages have included mining workplace issues such as roof falls; small-mine safety; winter weather hazards; maintenance accidents; independent contractor safety; supervisor safety; and water inundations.
"We believe these messages are quite valuable for the miners and their families," Lauriski added. "To reach the next level in mine safety, we have to raise the level of awareness in the community concerning hazards that cause fatal accidents in the mining industry. We ask for assistance from radio station managers nationwide to get these messages out to the mining community."
Radio station managers interested in receiving a complete set of the "Mine Safety Minutes" should send an e-mail message to MSHA's assistant secretary at email@example.com. Previous audio clips and text versions of the "Mine Safety Minutes" are on the Internet at http://www.msha.gov/media/psa.htmunder the "audio clips" heading.
OSHA Extends Comment Period on Hazard Communication Guidance Documents for Additional 30 Days
OSHA is extending for an additional thirty days -- until June 16 -- the informal public comment period on two guidance documents associated with the hazard communication initiative announced in March.
Guidance for Hazard Determination and Model Training Program for Hazard Communication are two draft documents designed to improve hazard communication by assisting manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals to properly evaluate and communicate the hazards of chemicals.
The documents were added in March to a new page on OSHA's website entitled "Hazard Communication: Foundation of Workplace Chemical Safety Programs," just one part of the agency's initiative that will focus attention on hazard communication in the workplace.
The agency encourages interested parties to comment on all aspects of the guidance documents. Written or electronic copies should be submitted by June 16, 2004 to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H022J, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20210. You may also fax your comments to that office at (202) 693-1648. Ensure the docket number is included in your submission.
Comments may also be submitted electronically through the Internet at http://ecomments.osha.gov. All comments and submissions will be available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office at the above address. Comments and submissions will be posted on OSHA's web site.
CDC Announces New Goals and Organizational Design
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Julie Gerberding announced new goals and integrated operations that will allow the federal public health agency to have greater impact on the health of people around the world. This announcement evolved from an ongoing strategic development process called the Futures Initiative which began a year ago at CDC and has included hundreds of employees, other agencies, organizations, and the public.
Dr. Gerberding announced that CDC will align its priorities and investments under two overarching health protection goals: 1) Preparedness: All people in all communities will be protected from infectious, environmental, and terrorists threats. 2) Health Promotion and Prevention of Disease, Injury and Disability: All people will achieve their optimal lifespan with the best possible quality of health in every stage of life. In addition, the agency is developing more targeted goals to assure an improved impact on health at every stage of life including infants and toddlers, children, adolescents, adults, and older adults.
The integrated organization coordinates the agency’s existing operational units into 4 coordinating centers to help the agency leverage its resources to be more nimble in responding to public health threats and emerging issues as well as chronic health conditions.
“For more than half a century this extraordinary agency with the greatest workforce in the world has accomplished so much for the health of people here and around the world,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. “However, today’s world characterized by tremendous globalization, connectivity, and speed poses entirely new challenges. The steps we are taking through this initiative will better position us to meet these challenges head on. Our aim is to help ensure that all people are protected in safe and healthy communities so they can achieve their full life expectancy.”
The new coordinating centers and their directors are:
Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases – includes the National Center for Infectious Diseases, the National Immunization Program, and the National Center for STD, TB, and HIV Prevention. Dr. Mitchell Cohen will lead this coordinating center.
Coordinating Center for Health Promotion – includes the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Donna Stroup will lead this coordinating center.
Coordinating Center for Environmental Health, Injury Prevention, and Occupational Health – includes the National Center for Environmental Health, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Dr. Henry Falk will lead this coordinating center.
Coordinating Center for Health Information and Services – includes the National Center for Health Statistics, a new National Center for Health Marketing, and a new Center for Public Health Informatics. Dr. James Marks will lead this coordinating center.
Office of Global Health – Dr. Stephen Blount will lead this office.
Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response – Mr. Charles Schable will lead this office.