An employer's alleged failure to protect employees from a wide range of hazards has resulted in citations for 49 alleged violations of safety and health standards from OSHA. Proposed penalties total $121,050.
Allen Canning Co. in Hessmer, La., was cited for the alleged violations following an inspection that began March 13, 2003, under a program called Site Specific Targeting, in which OSHA targets workplaces with high injury and illness rates.
The company cans and distributes vegetables at the Hessmer plant. With corporate headquarters in Siloam Springs, Ark., the company operates seven plants nationwide.
"The Department of Labor ensures workers are protected with a safe and healthy workplace, and this must be a priority of employers. OSHA has inspected this company 11 times since 1984 and has issued 68 citations," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Allen Canning Company's establishments have consistently been cited for violating health and safety standard similar to those found in this recent inspection. This company's safety performance is unacceptable and we will not allow this persistent disregard for worker protections."
Forty-eight of the alleged violations were deemed serious. These include failure to protect employees against hazards associated with powered industrial trucks, slipping or falling hazards on walking and working surfaces, potential falls from elevated surfaces, improperly guarded machines, material handling hazards, improper electrical wiring, defective hoists and blocked emergency exits.
An other-than-serious citation was issued for failing to develop a written respiratory program and provide training for employees required to wear respirators.
Allen Canning Co. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area office, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Revisions to Respiratory Protection Standard
OSHA announced in the September 10, 2003 Federal Register that it is extending until Oct. 2, 2003, the period for comments on the agency's proposal to amend its Respiratory Protection Standard.
OSHA received several requests from interested parties and stakeholders asking for additional time to comment on the assigned protection factors, and changes to several substance-specific standards. The original deadline for comments was Sept. 4, 2003.
Proposed revisions to the respiratory protection standard were published by OSHA on June 6, 2003. Proposed amendments incorporate new Assigned Protection Factors (APFs -- numbers that reflect the workplace level of respiratory protection) for respiratory protection programs. The final respirator standard, when completed, is expected to prevent approximately 4,000 injuries and illnesses and prevent about 900 deaths annually from cancer and other chronic diseases.
Written comments must be submitted by Oct. 2. Written comments (10 pages or fewer) can be faxed to OSHA's Docket Office at (202) 693-1648 or sent electronically to http://ecomments.osha.gov. Three copies of written comments and attachments must be submitted to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket H-049C (APF) or H-049D (CNP), Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., Washington, DC, 20210. Further information on submitting comments can be obtained by calling the Docket Office at (202) 693-2350.
Henshaw Focuses On OSHA's Strategy For The Future
The "triple bottom line" for OSHA is reducing injuries illnesses and deaths on the job, OSHA Administrator John Henshaw told a Chicago audience on September 9, 2003. He said the agency's strategy is fully focused on reaching that goal, and signed an Alliance with the National Safety Council to advance workplace safety and health.
Addressing safety directors and managers, presidents and chief executive officers, educators, engineers and human resource professionals at the National Safety Council's 91st Congress and Exposition, Henshaw said the nation's return on its investment in job safety and health must be a continual reduction in workplace fatalities and injuries.
"We have a sound plan, a balanced approach, and an innovative and creative strategy," Henshaw said. "We will continue our work with safety and health professionals, employers and workers to get results. This strategy can move us forward to our ultimate goal -- zero injuries, illnesses and deaths in America's workplaces."
The pursuit of that goal is the foundation of OSHA's five-year Strategic Management Plan, Henshaw said. Calling for a "balanced approach to achieve maximum results," he said OSHA will focus on performance measures, outcomes, and leading and trailing measures to determine its impact, allowing the agency to continue to target high hazard workplaces, focus on hard-to-reach workers such as immigrants and contract workers who frequently change jobs and place additional efforts on issues facing teenaged workers.
Henshaw said OSHA must also address "nontraditional areas" such as homeland security and workplace emergencies, motor vehicle accidents and workplace violence, using a variety of outreach and cooperative programs.
Henshaw also examined OSHA's accomplishments since he addressed the NSC in 2002, citing an enhanced enforcement program to address recalcitrant employers, continuing progress for the agency's comprehensive plan on ergonomics, intensified outreach to Hispanic and immigrant workers, and a steady increase in strategic partnerships and new Alliances.
Goals for the future include a dramatic increase in the Voluntary Protection Program, with three new VPP pilot programs: VPP Challenge, VPP Corporate, and VPP Construction that may add up to 2,000 additional VPP sites.
Emphasizing the significance of the agency's cooperative programs, the National Safety Council used its annual conference and exposition to join with OSHA in a new Alliance. "We've enjoyed a superb association with NSC," Henshaw said. "This Alliance will strengthen that relationship as we work more closely together on vital issues such as reducing traffic collisions, providing first aid training in the workplace, and delivering safety and health management system programs."
Added Alan McMillan, President and CEO of NSC: "The Alliance between the National Safety Council and OSHA builds on a long-standing and successful relationship between two organizations that are committed to similar goals. Formalizing the relationship allows us to strengthen the link and make even greater progress in achieving workplace safety and health. We look forward to the enhanced collaboration and the results it will bring, particularly in the areas of reducing traffic-related worker fatalities and injuries, improving first aid, and increasing training."
OSHA and NSC will work together to provide the nation's employers and workers with information, guidance and access to training resources. Part of the first aid training the Alliance addresses will focus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automatic External Defibrillators (AED).
The Alliance also calls for cross training of OSHA personnel and industry safety and health practitioners in best practices or effective approaches as jointly defined by OSHA and NSC. Both organizations will participate in forums, roundtable discussions, or stakeholder meetings related to vehicle safety and first aid training to help forge innovative solutions in the workplace. Finally, both organizations will work with OSHA's regional and area offices to facilitate joint outreach activities with NSC chapters to address the specific safety and health issues outlined in the Alliance.
During the National Safety Congress, Henshaw also welcomed Abbott Laboratories and the International Safety Equipment Association as new Alliance program participants.
New VPP Line Up Will Greatly Expand Program Benefits
A new line up of program initiatives will greatly expand the benefits of the Voluntary Protection Program, protecting the safety and health of thousands more workers across the nation, Assistant Secretary of Labor John L. Henshaw told attendees of the Voluntary Protection Programs Participant's Association (VPPPA) conference at the association's 19th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
"Expanding VPP allows us to reach out to more employers across the country, wherever they are on the ladder of safety and health excellence," said Henshaw. "These new initiatives will add to our existing portfolio of VPP programs, greatly multiply program participation, and markedly improve workplace safety and health across this country."
The three new VPP initiatives will not affect OSHA's current VPP program, including the STAR and Merit levels of recognition. "We will hold true to the rock-solid principles that underlie the VPP program. These will not be diluted," added Henshaw.
VPP Challenge will be a flexible program designed to reach and assist companies who are willing to make a commitment to excellence, but need assistance in developing effective safety and health management systems. VPP Challenge will be an ideal vehicle for increasing small business participation in VPP by providing more focus and support for small business owners to implement VPP principles in their facilities. Employers will be given incentives, including recognition, for incremental improvements in their management systems.
VPP Corporate will streamline the application review and onsite evaluation processes for corporations that have made a commitment to VPP. The initiative will focus on eliminating redundancy in the application requirements for sites from the same corporation. The initiative will also require participating corporations to provide mentoring and outreach to other corporations.
The VPP Construction initiative will be designed to meet the unique characteristics and needs of the construction industry. The initiative aims to provide the mobile construction workforce and short term projects with the same opportunity for recognition that fixed site employers receive. OSHA intends to develop and launch VPP Construction next year.
VPP is OSHA's premier cooperative program. VPP worksites save millions each year because their injury and illness rates are more than 50 percent below the averages for their industries. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management systems. Approval into VPP is OSHA's official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health programs.
For more information on VPP programs, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/vpp/index.html.
OSHA Joins Forces with Local Company and Community Group to Provide Safety and Health Training to Hispanic Workers
Hispanic workers in Westchester County will receive training in workplace safety and health through a cooperative effort among OSHA, the Hispanic Resource Center of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, and Wenner Bread Products of Bayport, NY.
The working group was formed in early May to provide this vital training in Spanish to Hispanic day laborers in Westchester County. While workplace fatalities have fallen nationwide, they have increased among Hispanic workers, especially those in construction.
Members of the team bring a wealth of experience in working with Hispanic populations. Wenner Bread Products of Bayport was accepted into the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program in recognition of their exemplary safety and health program. At Wenner Bread, where the majority of the employees are non-English speaking, employees receive safety and health information in their native languages. The Hispanic Resource Center of Larchmont and Mamaroneck in Westchester assists the Hispanic community with health care, housing, food, and employment.
"Access to training and information about safe and healthful work practices may be limited when English is not the first language of Hispanic employers or workers," says Patricia K. Clark, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "We look forward to continuing our efforts with the Hispanic Resource Center and Wenner Bread to ensure that Hispanic workers in Westchester have access to information they need to stay safe and healthy on the job."
The team recently conducted a 10-hour OSHA construction course in Spanish, the first of its kind in the New York region. Topics included an introduction to OSHA, electrical safety, fall protection, health hazards in construction, personal protective equipment, excavation and trenching, hazard communication, scaffolding, and hand and power tools. Workers who participated in the course applauded the instructors for utilizing both lectures and hands on instruction. In addition to the training, Wenner Bread provided the participants with personal protective equipment as well as fresh treats from their bakery. The next course is scheduled for the fall and will be offered quarterly thereafter.
Nationwide, OSHA is working on new ways to reach immigrant employers and employees. To reach out to Hispanic workers, a Spanish Web page and a toll-free help line (in English and Spanish: 1-800-321-OSHA) have been established. Many publications, such as All About OSHA, have also been translated into Spanish.
To obtain additional information on this or OSHA's other Hispanic initiatives, contact the agency's regional Hispanic coordinator, Diana Cortez, in OSHA's Tarrytown area office at (914) 524-7510.
DOT Proposes Regulations Change for Aluminum Cylinders Due to Safety Concern for Divers, Firefighters and Others
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), in order to prevent injuries to users of a certain type of aluminum cylinder, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend requirements in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for cylinders manufactured of a certain aluminum alloy.
The NPRM addresses cylinders made of the aluminum alloy 6351-T6. Cylinders made of this alloy are known to be susceptible to sustained load cracking in the neck and shoulder area of the cylinder.
"This proposed rulemaking addresses a safety issue of key interest to SCUBA divers, firefighters and others who use this type of aluminum alloy cylinder," said Samuel G. Bonasso, RSPA acting administrator. "The purpose of this action is to minimize the likelihood of personal injury occurring during cylinder filling and to adopt a standard for early detection of sustained load cracking to reduce the risk of a cylinder rupture."
This proposed rulemaking, HM-220F, would complement an earlier final rule, HM-220D. Under the new rule, all existing cylinders manufactured of aluminum alloy 6351-T6 used in self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) for diving, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for firefighting, and oxygen service would be required to:
- Undergo a non-destructive examination at the time of its required five-year periodic requalification. (This would include an electrical/eddy current examination combined with a visual inspection for cracks in the neck region),
- Have operational controls in place during the filling process, and
- Revise the entry in the HMR for the DOT 3 AL cylinder in the "Requalification of Cylinders" table to include a non-destructive examination for cylinders manufactured of aluminum alloy 6351-T6.
On August 8, 2002, RSPA published final rule HM-220D that amended the requirements of the HMR applicable to the maintenance, requalification, repair, and use of DOT specification cylinders. That final rule added several amendments pertaining to DOT specification cylinders manufactured with aluminum alloy 6351-T6.
RSPA's Office of Hazardous Materials Safety is the federal authority responsible for ensuring the safe and secure commercial movement of hazardous materials by all transportation modes.
Company Agrees to $103,500 Penalty for 24 Health, Safety Violations
OSHA and M & H Valve Company have entered into a settlement agreement that involves payment of a $103,500 penalty for safety and health violations and improvement of working conditions at the company's Anniston, Ala., facility. M & H Valve is owned by McWane Industries, also the owner of the Elmira, NY facility cited above..
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Anniston facility, where approximately 285 employees manufacture fire hydrants and commercial valves, admitted to 21 serious and three repeat violations. The company agreed to pay the penalty and to have an outside consultant conduct lead air monitoring for six consecutive months to determine employee exposure and to share the data with OSHA.
OSHA cited the company for serious violations of its lead standard, fall hazards from fixed ladders and stairways, storage of unsecured material, unguarded machinery, and electrical hazards. Repeat violations involved inadequate lead sampling, insufficient hazard communication with employees and failure to guard loading dock areas.
The company will work with the local unions at the facility -- The Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics, and Allied Workers International Union (AFL-CIO-CIC), Local 324, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 2802 -- District 92 IAM, to improve safety and health conditions.
M & H Valve is one of five McWane facilities subject to a comprehensive safety and health inspection by OSHA as the result of a previous settlement agreement between the agency and the parent corporation. As part of a September 2002 agreement, McWane, Inc. agreed to allow OSHA to enter five of its facilities to conduct comprehensive safety and health inspections. Results of the inspections are being used by OSHA to help McWane improve their safety and health programs in a collaborative manner.
Safety Hazards Lead to $181,400 in OSHA Fines for Manufacturing Facility
OSHA is fining an Elmira, N.Y., fire hydrant and valve manufacturer $181,400 for failing to address a wide range of occupational safety and health hazards that could have killed or seriously injured employees, including hazards from falls, unlabeled chemicals, and negative health consequences from overexposure to silica.
OSHA cited Kennedy Valve, a Division of McWane, Inc., for 24 alleged repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following a comprehensive inspection that OSHA's Syracuse area office conducted between March and September. The inspection was part of a national settlement agreement between OSHA and McWane Industries, Inc.
Ten repeat citations account for $137,900 of the fines. These citations address fall hazards, uncovered containers of flammable liquids, not maintaining forklift name plates, inadequate machine guarding, electrical hazards, employees wearing inadequate respiratory protection, unlabeled hazardous chemicals, employee overexposure to silica and lack of administrative or engineering controls to reduce silica exposure hazards. OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer has previously been cited for substantially similar hazards and those citations have become final. The current repeat citations stem from violations found at other McWane worksites during OSHA inspections conducted between 2000 and 2003.
Fines of $43,500 are proposed for 14 serious citations including failure to properly maintain overhead lift components, deficiencies involving containers of flammable liquids, paint spray booth hazards, additional machine guarding, electrical and fall hazards, not refitting employees for hearing protection after they sustained standard threshold shift hearing loss, incomplete personal protective equipment assessment, lack of annual confined space rescue drills, over-exposure to total dust and lack of administrative controls or engineering controls, lack of initial determination for lead exposure and shoveling of sand containing lead. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.