OSHA CITES MANUFACTURER FOLLOWING FATALITY CAUSED BY FAILING TO SECURE EQUIPMENT

June 21, 2001

OSHA has cited Atlanta Cap Manufacturing, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $61,650 following the investigation of a fatal accident at its Norcross plant.

The accident occur on Dec. 28, 2000, when seven employees positioned themselves in front of a two-fork pallet with a hand-powered jack handle and began moving a 5,500 pound machine. As they guided the equipment down a ramp, the wheels of the pallet caught on a crack in the concrete floor. The machine shifted and toppled forward off the pallet. Six employees were able to escape, but the seventh was crushed as the machine fell.

"If the employees had used a forklift and properly secured the machine, this tragic accident could have been avoided," said William Grimes, acting area director for OSHA's Atlanta-East office. "While investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident, the investigator observed other serious safety violations and was authorized to do a complete inspection of the baseball cap manufacturing plant," he added.

Along with citing the company for not using appropriate moving equipment and for not properly securing the load to be moved, OSHA issued an additional 17 serious citations.


Violations included failing to have:

  • equipment properly wired to electrical breakers;
  • ockout/tagout procedures in place so that individual machines could not be re-started while an employee did maintenance or repair work;
  • an emergency action plan.

The agency found unguarded machinery, blocked aisle ways, and exit signs placed above areas where no exit existed. Other exit signs, properly located, were not illuminated, making it impossible during an emergency for second-shift employees to find their way out of the building.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

"A breakdown in communication occurred among managers and employees," Grimes stated. "Top-level management officials were routinely rotated through this facility every six months without an exchange of safety needs and requirements. Another factor contributing to the breakdown was the language barrier. Managers and employees spoke English, Chinese or Vietnamese, but few were fluent in more than one language, making it difficult to communicate safe work practices."

The Taiwan-based company, which employs approximately 100 workers at the Norcross plant and 600 internationally, has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


NHTSA REPORTS MAJOR GAINS IN SEAT BELT USE IN STATES WITH NEW PRIMARY BELT LAWS

Seat belt use jumped in 2000 for three states that enacted primary belt use laws during the year, according to newly released state statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In states with a primary seat belt law, motor vehicle occupants can be stopped and cited by law enforcement officials for not wearing their belts whether or not another violation has occurred. In states with secondary enforcement, the vehicle must have been stopped for another offense before the occupant can be cited for not wearing a belt.

States reporting the highest estimated increase in shoulder belt use since 1999 were Alabama (from 57.9 percent to 70.6 percent), New Jersey (from 63.3 percent to 74.2 percent), and Michigan (from 70.1 percent to 83.5 percent).

"We are extremely gratified to see these significant gains in seat belt use," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "Every day lives are being saved through primary seat belt laws, and most recently through legislation that became law last year in Alabama, New Jersey and Michigan."

Seat belt use rates at or above the DOT's desired performance goal of 85 percent belt use for 2000 were reported by California (88.9 percent), Puerto Rico (87 percent), New Mexico (86.6 percent), and Maryland (85 percent).

The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington all reported use rates greater than 80 percent. The lowest use rate reported was 47.7 percent in North Dakota.

Twenty-eight states reported increases in seat belt use both from 1998 to 1999 and from 1999 to 2000. The largest was Alabama, which went from 52 percent in 1998 to 57.9 percent in 1999 to 70.6 percent in 2000. Only three states decreased in both years. The largest decrease was reported by Mississippi, which dropped from 58 percent in 1998 to 54.5 percent in 1999 and to 50.4 percent in 2000.

Twenty-one states reported seat belt use rates at or above 71 percent, the nationwide estimate for overall front seat passenger shoulder belt use in 2000. This national estimate is based on the Fall 2000 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which is conducted by NHTSA.

The latest state-by-state estimates of seat belt use were derived from surveys conducted by state agencies in accord with uniform NHTSA survey methods. Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico reported to NHTSA on their seat belt use rates for 2000.

The newly released NHTSA statistics are contained in a research note on the agency's web site at: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/ncsa


OSHA CITES MANUFACTURER FOLLOWING A FATALITY AS THE RESULT OF AN EXPLOSION

OSHA has cited Blacklidge Emulsions, Inc., Gulfport, Miss., and proposed $71,500 in penalties following the investigation of a fatal accident that occurred Jan. 18, when an employee began cutting a hole in a storage tank.

The fatality occurred when an assistant plant manager attempted to cut a hole with an acetylene torch in a tank containing asphalt emulsion - an adhesive used in highway paving -- to visually survey the amount of emulsion remaining in the tank. The assistant plant manager was helping other employees estimate the remaining contents of the 16-foot high, 10,000 gallon capacity tank when he stepped on a pallet and ordered a forklift operator to raise him to the top of the tank.

"No safety precautions were taken before the cutting operation began," Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director said. "The assistant plant manager's attention was twice called to a warning sign on the side of the structure which stated the contents were flammable or combustible. In disregard of safety procedures he lit the acetylene torch and began cutting, causing an explosion that blew him 93 feet away."


OSHA issued 17 serious citations including failing to:

  • conduct atmospheric testing and assure that storage tanks were free of combustible material or vapors before cutting;
  • follow proper purging procedures;
  • properly vent storage tanks;
  • protect employees from fall hazards.

The company, which employs 35 workers and had six at the accident site, has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA's proposed penalties are based on the violation of safety or health standards, rather than the extent of injuries suffered or loss of life.


NIOSH COMPENDIUM SUMMARIZES FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM LEAD INVESTIGATIONS

A new publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) summarizes 31 investigations in which NIOSH made recommendations to protect workers from potentially harmful job-related exposures to lead. Work settings ranged from bridges and shipyards where lead particles were generated by abrasive blasting, to an Army depot where employees were exposed to lead from solder in repairing night goggles and laser range finders.

The investigations were reported from 1994 to 1999 under NIOSH's health hazard evaluation program, in which NIOSH responds to requests from workers, worker representatives, or management to evaluate occupational health concerns at individual work sites. The new compendium, "Health Hazard Evaluations: Issues Related to Occupational Exposure to Lead, 1994 to 1999," provides a concise, handy overview of NIOSH's findings and recommendations from the individual case reports. It also includes a list of key studies, textbooks, and standards for preventing job-related lead exposure.

Results from health hazard evaluations provide employers and workers with practical suggestions for addressing concerns at those individual sites. The results also provide NIOSH and other researchers with new information for assessing and solving similar concerns at other workplaces.


Findings from the 31 investigations illustrate that:

  • Workers may be at risk of potentially hazardous exposures anywhere lead is present on the job, not just in traditional settings like shipyards and battery manufacturing plants. For example, the NIOSH investigations confirmed worker lead exposures in a remodeling project where old paint was sanded from a historic house and at a hospital radiation laboratory where radiation-shielding molds were made.
  • Workers' families may also be at risk from lead dust or particles inadvertently carried home on the worker's clothing or skin, or from lead materials that are used in some home-based businesses such as electronic component repair.
  • Often, lead exposures can be significantly reduced through simple, inexpensive measures, such as basic improvements in ventilation and use of good work practices.
  • Copies of "Health Hazard Evaluations: Issues Related to Occupational Exposure to Lead, 1994 to 1999," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-113, are available from the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674). The publication also is available on the NIOSH web site at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/2001-113.html.


    INTERNATIONAL CHEMICAL SAFETY CARDS (ICSC) UPDATED

    If you ship dangerous goods to Europe, you must include International Chemical Safety Card (ICSC) information with your shipments. This information is also helpful in the development of MSDSs.

    The ILO Health and Safety Information Center in Geneva has updated the collection of ICSCs. There are now 1198 cards in English, available in HTML format with links to referred risk and safety phases, risk notes, danger symbols and also in PDF format for printing. The collection can be found at http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/cis/products/icsc/inde x.htm.


    Also included are some useful lists:

    • Risk Phrases
    • Safety Phrases
    • Risk Notes
    • EC Danger Symbols

    The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) web site at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcs/icstart.html contains the ICSC cards in the following languages: Chinese, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Russian, Spanish Swahili and Thai. Note that there are two English language versions available on the NIOSH site: the international version published by WHO/European Union and the US National Version made available by NIOSH.