OSHA Focusing on Increase in Worker Fatalities

July 16, 2018
OSHA is seeking to stem a recent increase in workplace fatalities in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. The Agency has seen an increase in fatalities associated with falls, struck-by objects and vehicles, machine hazards, grain bin engulfment, and burns.
In 2017, OSHA launched its "Safe + Sound Campaign," urging employers to develop and implement a safety and health program that includes management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards. So far, the campaign has received commitments from 198 organizations.
"OSHA has investigated 34 fatalities in these three states since Oct. 1, 2017," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kim Stille. "Working together with employers, unions, and employees, we can reduce these incidents. By implementing and sustaining workplace safety and health programs we can help employees avoid preventable injuries and fatalities. The agency has additional resources available to help employers of all sizes identify workplace hazards and eliminate them."
Safety and health programs help reduce the numbers of workplace injuries and illnesses, and improve the bottom line. OSHA's "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs" offers practical advice on how an organization can create and integrate safety and health programs. To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, or file a complaint, call OSHA's hot-line at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Hazardous Waste Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations.  Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule.  Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts.  If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD10 tablet at no extra charge.
Save the Date: Safe + Sound Week
OSHA’s second annual Safe + Sound Week will be held August 13-19, 2018. The event is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the value of workplace safety and health programs. These programs can help employers and workers identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving a company’s financial bottom line. Throughout this week, organizations are encouraged to host events and activities that showcase the core elements of an effective safety and health program, including: management leadership, worker participation, and finding and fixing workplace hazards. For more information and to sign-up for email updates, visit the Safe + Sound Week webpage.
Emergency Response Complicated by Social Media Misinformation
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a draft white paper to help first responders better understand and counter rumors, misinformation and false information on social media. The white paper details the four types of misinformation, as well as key challenges, case studies, and best practices for emergency responders to consider — some of which relate directly to how officials notify citizens when a crisis strikes.
Prevent Heat Illness
As summer temperatures rise, so do the dangers of working in high heat. That’s especially true in on hot days in milder climates, where workers tend to be used to working in mild weather and are frequently not accustomed to high temperatures.
As a result, Oregon OSHA encourages employers and workers in construction, agriculture, and other labor-intensive activities to learn the signs of heat illness and focus on prevention.
“Prevention really comes down to taking several important precautions,” said Penny Wolf-McCormick, health enforcement manager for Oregon OSHA. “They include regularly providing water, rest, and shade; gradually adapting workers to hot environments; and training employees to recognize signs of trouble and to speak up about them.”
Exposure to heat can lead to headaches, cramps, dizziness, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, and even seizures or death. From 2012 to 2017, 37 people received benefits through Oregon’s workers’ compensation system for heat-related illnesses.
The call to address the hazards of working in high heat is part of a larger effort aimed at preventing heat-related illness. Under an emphasis program run by Oregon OSHA, the agency’s enforcement and consultation activities will include a review of employers’ plans to deal with heat exposure, especially from June 15 through Oct. 1 of each year.
The prevention program applies to both outdoor job sites and indoor workplaces where potential heat-related hazards may exist. Oregon OSHA encourages employers to fill out a heat illness prevention plan. The plan outlines everything from risk factors and precautionary steps to locations of water and cooling areas.
You can get a sample heat illness prevention plan at http://osha.oregon.gov/OSHAPubs/pubform/heat-sample-program.pdf
Here are some tips for preventing a heat-related illness:
  • Perform the heaviest, most labor-intensive work during the coolest part of the day.
  • Use the buddy system (work in pairs) to monitor the heat.
  • Drink plenty of cool water (one small cup every 15 to 20 minutes).
  • Wear light, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing (such as cotton).
  • Take frequent short breaks in cool, shaded areas – allow your body to cool down.
  • Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages (these make the body lose water and increase the risk of heat illnesses).
To help those suffering from heat exhaustion:
  • Move them to a cool, shaded area. Do not leave them alone.
  • Loosen and remove heavy clothing.
  • Provide cool water to drink (a small cup every 15 minutes) if they are not feeling sick to their stomach.
  • Try to cool them by fanning them. Cool the skin with a spray mist of cold water or a wet cloth.
  • If they do not feel better in a few minutes, call 911 for emergency help.
You can calculate the heat index using the federal OSHA heat stress app for mobile phones: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html.
North Florida Shipyard Cited for Safety Violations Following Employee Drowning
OSHA has cited North Florida Shipyards Inc., a shipbuilding and repair company, after an employee suffered fatal injuries at its Commodores Point facility in Jacksonville, Florida. The shipyard faces $271,061 in proposed penalties.
The worker drowned after a pressured air manifold struck him and knocked him into the St. Johns River. OSHA has cited the employer for safety violations, including exposing employees to being struck-by, drowning, amputation, caught-in, and electrical hazards; allowing scuba divers to be unaccompanied by another diver; and failing to ensure machine guarding.
“As this case demonstrates, it is important for employers to identify existing hazards, and follow required safety procedures to protect workers from serious injuries,” said OSHA Jacksonville Acting Area Office Director Buddy Underwood.
Marine Cargo Handling Company Cited for Fatal Forklift Accident at Port of San Diego
Cal/OSHA has issued citations to marine cargo handler SSA Pacific Inc. for willful and serious safety violations following the investigation of a fatal forklift accident at the Port of San Diego.
On January 3, a longshoreman was driving a forklift into a transit shed when he collided with a concrete support column and suffered fatal injuries after being thrown from the forklift. Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that the employee was not wearing a seatbelt and that the forklift had multiple safety devices disabled, including a seatbelt warning buzzer and mast interlock system designed to disconnect power from the hydraulic lift when the operator is unseated.
“Forklift safety and training of operators must be taken seriously,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must ensure that seat belts are used and that safety devices such as warning systems to ensure seat belt use are not altered.”
Cal/OSHA issued six citations totaling $205,235 in proposed penalties to SSA Pacific Inc., a division of Seattle-based international marine cargo handler SSA Marine.
The citations issued included four serious violations for the employer’s failure to ensure that forklift operators use seatbelts, properly maintain and inspect forklifts, ensure operators were effectively trained and for improperly altering forklift safety features. A general violation was cited for the employer’s failure to establish and maintain an effective heat illness prevention plan.
SSA Pacific was also issued a citation for a willful-serious violation as the employer failed to ensure workers perform a forklift safety check at the beginning of each shift and report unsafe conditions, a violation the company was cited for in 2016 following an accident inspection at the Port of Long Beach.
The incident in 2016 occurred when two workers improperly attempted to lift a 15-ton forklift from the hatch of a ship with a crane. One worker was hospitalized overnight for injuries to his ribs and lungs when he was pinned by the mast of the running forklift.
A citation is classified as willful when evidence indicates that the employer committed an intentional and knowing violation, or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to eliminate it. A citation is classified as serious when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation.
Forklift safety requirements are summarized on page 65 of Cal/OSHA’s Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry.
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