OSHA Initiative Aims to Reduce Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Manufacturing

May 16, 2022
Following a 90-day outreach period, OSHA’s Regional Emphasis Program for Noise Induced Hearing Loss will move into the enforcement phase beginning May 17, 2022. The emphasis program targets manufacturing industries with high rates of occupational hearing loss in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Historically, hearing loss is the most recorded occupational illness in manufacturing, except for illnesses related to COVID-19 in 2020. In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that potentially damaging noise levels put 18 million workers at risk and produced 14,500 cases of work-related hearing loss. Like many occupational injuries, work-related hearing loss is preventable when controls are implemented, proper protection is provided and required standards are followed.
“This regional emphasis program will help ensure manufacturing employers in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota do what is necessary to protect their workers from exposures to excessive noise and prevent permanent hearing loss.,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver. “OSHA hopes the emphasis program will remind manufacturing industry employers to follow required safety standards and alert workers to the related hazards and reduce workplace injuries,” Rous added.
Excessive noise exposure has been shown to also cause increased physiological stress, muscle tension, loss of sleep and fatigue. Read more about how to control and reduce excessive noise exposure in the workplace.
EPA Proposes Rule to Require More Comprehensive Reporting on Asbestos
The EPA recently announced a proposed rule that would require comprehensive reporting on asbestos as the agency continues its work to address exposure to the known carcinogen and strengthen the science used to protect people from this dangerous chemical. The proposed rule under section 8(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) would require asbestos manufacturers and processors to report certain use and exposure information, including information pertaining to asbestos-containing articles (including as an impurity).
“Strong data and the best available science are the foundation of our work to protect communities from hazardous chemicals like asbestos,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michal Freedhoff. “Getting a more comprehensive and complete set of data on how and where this chemical is used is part of EPA’s broader effort to evaluate the health risks from asbestos and, when needed, put protections in place.”
EPA would use data collected through this proposed rule to help inform future actions involving asbestos, including the ongoing risk evaluation for “legacy uses” of asbestos (part two) and potential future risk management activities resulting from that risk evaluation. For example, data collected on asbestos as an impurity could better inform the risk evaluation of the use of asbestos in talc. Additionally, EPA’s completed risk evaluation of ongoing asbestos uses (part one) included uses where asbestos may be part of an article, or a component of an end use product, like brake blocks and gaskets. This proposed reporting rule would help identify if there are articles that contain different types of asbestos.
The proposed reporting rule would require manufacturers and producers of certain types of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles (including as an impurity) in the last four years to report certain exposure-related information, including quantities of asbestos manufactured or processed, types of use, and employee data. Importantly, the proposed rule also covers asbestos-containing articles (including as an impurity) and asbestos that is present as a component of a mixture. As proposed, manufacturers and processors would have up to nine months following the effective date of the final rule to collect and submit all required information to EPA.
Upon publication in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 60 days via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2021-0357 at www.regulations.gov
This reporting rule is one component of a comprehensive suite of actions to address the risks to public health from asbestos. Last month, EPA proposed a rule that would prohibit ongoing uses of chrysotile asbestos, the only known form of asbestos currently imported into the United States. It is the first-ever risk management rule issued under the new process for evaluating and addressing the safety of existing chemicals under the 2016 amendments to TSCA.
Oregon OSHA Adopts Rules Protecting Workers Against High Heat, Wildfire Smoke
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) recently announced the adoption of rules to protect workers from the hazards of high heat and wildfire smoke. The heat rule addresses access to shade and cool water, preventive cool-down breaks, and prevention plans, information, and training. The wildfire smoke rule includes an array of exposure assessments and controls, and training and communication.
Both rules encompass initial protective measures for workers who rely on employer-provided housing, including as part of farm operations.
The rules, which take effect June 15 for heat and July 1 for wildfire smoke, are the most protective of their kind in the United States. The rules reflect the need to strengthen protections in the workplace against the extraordinary hazards of high heat and wildfire smoke while focusing on the needs of Oregon’s most vulnerable communities.
“As we enter what we expect will be another hot and dry summer, all workers, including Oregon's hard-working agricultural and farmworkers, deserve health and safety protections from extreme heat and wildfire smoke,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “With these new rules from Oregon OSHA, I am proud that Oregon will be a national model for heat and wildfire smoke protections for all workers, regardless of income-level, occupation, or immigration status.”
Oregon OSHA – part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) – adopted the rules, which were proposed in February. Proposal of the rules followed a development process that included worker and community stakeholder listening sessions, input and review by rule advisory committees, and input from employer and labor stakeholders. The rules build on temporary emergency requirements that were adopted in summer 2021 following several months of stakeholder and community engagement. 
The rules are part of Oregon’s larger and ongoing work – initiated by Gov. Brown in her March 2020 executive order 20-04 – to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Read the rules:

Environmental Penalties Issued in Washington for the First Quarter of 2022
The Washington Department of Ecology issued $683,378 in penalties of $1,000 or more from January through March 2022.
Ecology works with thousands of businesses and individuals to help them comply with state laws. Penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after Ecology has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.
The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to settlement or court rulings. Funds collected go to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts.
Ecology strives to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment and promote wise management for current and future generations. When someone pollutes Washington’s land, air or waters, Ecology enforces state and federal regulations in hopes of changing behavior and deterring future violations.
Click here to see a full list of violations.
Oil Company Cited After Three Workers Suffer Severe Injuries
Federal workplace safety investigators determined that an oil company’s failure to take adequate safety precautions contributed to a drilling site explosion near Grassy Butte on Nov. 4, 2021, that permanently disabled one worker and left two others with serious injuries.
An OSHA investigation found KLX Energy Services – operating as KLX Wireline, LLC – carelessly transported explosive materials and failed to take required precautions to protect workers and the public during blasting operations. The workers suffered shrapnel injuries when a perforating gun detonated as workers assembled a blasting cap on it to send down a well near Grassy Butte. The workers were using perforating guns to fracture the well bore.
“These individuals suffered serious injuries simply for doing their job,” said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson in Bismarck. “KLX Wireline LLC’s willful failure to follow federal standards is unacceptable and a violation of their employees’ rights to a safe workplace.”
OSHA cited KLX Wireline for failing to equip vehicles transporting explosives with at least two fire extinguishers located near the driver’s seat, ensure safe and consistent disposal or reuse of empty containers and paper fiber packing materials used to wrap explosive materials, and ensure the vehicles were always attended. OSHA inspectors also noted the vehicles lacked safety placards indicating the presence of explosive materials.
OSHA issued six willful, three serious and two other-than-serious safety violations to KLX Wireline and proposed penalties of $453,982. The agency issued one serious safety citation and proposed penalties of $14,502 to Brigade Energy for exposing workers to hazards during the handling of explosives during perforating operations.
KLX employed the worker who suffered disabling injuries. Brigade Energy of Greenwood Village, Colorado, employed the other two workers.
KLX Wireline is a subsidiary of KLX Energy Services, a Houston-based onshore provider of oil-field services that operates more than 35 service facilities located in major shale basins.
Emerging Contaminant Found in Drinking Water Wells in Ohio
The EPA is currently overseeing a groundwater investigation for 1,4-dioxane west of the Industrial Excess Landfill Superfund site in Uniontown, Ohio. The potentially responsible parties are conducting the investigation due to the presence of dioxane confirmed in samples collected in January from numerous monitoring wells. Sampling of private wells near the site is included in the ongoing groundwater investigation.
Preliminary data from private well samples collected in April show unacceptable levels of 1,4-dioxane at several properties. Based on the data, EPA directed the PRPs to immediately provide bottled water to the impacted residents and initiate hookups to the municipal water supply.
Dioxane is an “emerging contaminant” that may cause adverse health effects. Emerging contaminants often eluded early detection in the past because the analytical instruments and scientific methods available were not sensitive enough to detect them. Until recently, it was not possible to confidently detect or measure dioxane in groundwater, and there are no published federal cleanup standards for it.
Dioxane is a widely used, synthetic industrial chemical present in paint strippers, dyes, greases, antifreeze, and in some consumer products like deodorants, shampoos and cosmetics. It was heavily used as a solvent stabilizer in manufacturing. In recent years, dioxane has been commonly found at Superfund sites contaminated with chlorinated solvents and at septic or hospital waste disposal sites.
The PRPs completed the construction of the final phase of cleanup of the 30-acre landfill site in 2004. As part of the cleanup, approximately 100 residential properties were connected to the municipal water supply in the early 1990s, the landfill was capped with enhanced vegetation, fencing was installed and deed restrictions were established. EPA also requires the PRPs to continue long-term monitoring of landfill gas and the natural attenuation of contaminants in groundwater.  
Until closing in 1980, IEL received industrial waste, primarily from the rubber industries in Akron. It also accepted waste from hospitals, septic tank cleaning firms and local households. In 1986, EPA added IEL to the Superfund National Priorities List for cleanup.  
For more information, please visit the Industrial Excess Landfill website.
South Dakota Contractor Repeatedly Exposed Workers to Unprotected Trenches
Twice in seven days, federal workplace safety inspectors found a Sioux Falls contractor put workers at risk of being buried under thousands of pounds of soil while they worked in unprotected trenches at two locations in Tea and Salem.
The discovery continues H&W Contracting, LLC's history of disregarding the serious and often fatal dangers associated with working in an unprotected trench and federal law. Since 2019, OSHA has cited the company three times for similar violations.
Most recently, OSHA inspectors responded to a complaint on Nov.16, 2021, and found H&W Contracting workers in an unprotected trench in Tea as they installed a 6-inch waterline to a fire hydrant at 271st Street and Kerslake Place.
Six days later, another complaint led OSHA to open a second inspection where it was discovered that company employees were working in five separate unprotected trenches as they replaced storm sewers with new ones in Salem on Nov. 22, 2021.
"Each site had a different foreman, different crew members and a different scope of work. The common thread is H&W Contracting's continued failure to protect its workers," said OSHA Area Director Sheila Stanley in Sioux Falls. "Trench collapses are among the construction industry's most deadly hazards. Workers caught when thousands of pounds of loose soil and rocks pour on and around them often suffer serious injuries or worse. H&W Contracting must change the way it operates before disaster strikes."
After the November inspection, the agency identified one willful and three serious violations and proposed $122,838 in penalties from the Tea location and one willful violation with proposed penalties of $95,718 for the Salem location.
From 2011-2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 166 workers died in trench collapses. In 2019, OSHA notes at least 24 workers died while working on trenching and excavation projects.
In both inspections, OSHA found H&W failed to install trench protection systems and that a competent person failed to remove workers from hazardous situations. In Tea, the company also failed to protect gas, electric, water and communications systems from struck-by or other hazards and did not extend a ladder three feet above the edge of the excavation to allow for safe egress from the trench.
OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least two feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting prior to allowing a worker to enter.
The National Utility Contractors Association has declared June 2022 "Trench Safety Month." OSHA will collaborate with the association for "Trench Safety Stand-Down" week, June 20-24.
OSHA's trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including a safety video.
EPA and DOE Honor Energy Companies in 2022 Energy Star Awards
EPA Region 6 and the Department of Energy are announcing the winners of the 2022 ENERGY STAR Awards. These 210 organizations, which represent the top ENERGY STAR partners, are making important contributions in support of America’s clean energy transition. They come from 37 states and span nearly every sector of the economy, including Fortune 500 companies, schools, retailers, manufacturers, home builders, and commercial building owners and operators across the United States.
“We know it’s going to take all of us working together to tackle the climate crisis, and the 2022 ENERGY STAR award-winning partners are demonstrating what it takes to build a more sustainable future,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These companies are showing once again that taking action in support of a clean energy economy can be good not only for the environment, but also for business and customers.”
For 30 years, ENERGY STAR has been America’s resource for saving energy and protecting the environment. In 2020, energy savings from ENERGY STAR and its partners helped reduce U.S. electricity consumption by the equivalent of over 10 percent of total U.S. demand, while delivering emissions reductions equivalent to 5 percent of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions.
Leading the way in delivering these results are award-winning partners that have demonstrated a commitment to energy efficiency through ENERGY STAR. More than 150 of these award winners are being recognized for their continued commitment, year after year, to energy efficiency through the program’s highest honor: ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award. 
Examples of how Region 6 ENERGY STAR Award Winners have demonstrated leadership:
  • Entergy Arkansas, LLC – For promoting ENERGY STAR resources across its newly launched online marketplace and increased the use of ENERGY STAR appliances and heat pump water heaters.
  • Entergy New Orleans – For launching a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR multi-channel marketing campaign and provided improvements to more than 700 homes. 
  • Entergy Solutions Louisiana – For exceeded savings goals through improvements in 900 homes.
  • Southwestern Electric Power Company (Louisiana and Texas) – For achieving 8.4 million kilowatt hours in energy savings.
  • Southwestern Electric Power Company (Arkansas) – For generating 8.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in energy savings through efficiency upgrades.
  • New Mexico Gas Company – For continuing to expand its energy efficiency programs while emphasizing ENERGY STAR certified homes and products.
  • Public Service Company of Oklahoma – For expanding its ENERGY STAR certified homes and products programs across its service territory and outperformed its original energy savings goal.
  • AEP Texas – For providing incentives for the construction of 120 ENERGY STAR certified homes and implemented a wide-ranging bilingual marketing campaign.
  • ARCXIS™, formerly DPIS Builder Services – For certifying more than 45,000 homes as ENERGY STAR in 2021.
  • Austin Energy – For increasing participation in Home Performance with ENERGY STAR by 10 percent over the previous year and delivered more than $1 million in rebates for customers in the program.
  • Build San Antonio Green – For incentivizing the construction of nearly 1,800 ENERGY STAR certified homes in 2021, with a cumulative total of nearly 13,000 since joining the program. 
  • CEMEX USA – For advancing energy efficiency in the cement sector by supporting the ENERGY STAR Focus on Energy Efficiency in Cement and Concrete Manufacturing and updating the cement plant benchmarking tool.
  • CenterPoint Energy – For supporting the construction of more than 3,500 ENERGY STAR certified homes, with a cumulative total exceeding 115,000 since joining the program in 2001.
  • Digital Realty – For leveraging ENERGY STAR tools and resources to advance its strategic energy management efforts, set ambitious energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals and achieved ENERGY STAR certification for 33 data centers in 2021.
  • El Paso Electric – For supporting the construction of nearly 900 ENERGY STAR certified homes since joining the program and increasing the average kilowatt hour savings per home by 42 percent in 2021.
  • Entergy Texas – For supporting the construction of more than 500 ENERGY STAR certified homes, while increasing program participation for homebuilders by 60 percent.
  • Hines – For maintaining its strong corporate commitment to sustainability by using ENERGY STAR to promote energy efficiency with its stakeholders.
  • USAA Real Estate – For continuing to find new opportunities to improve energy efficiency in its diverse portfolio, while promoting ENERGY STAR across the industry.
  • Winton & Associates – For certifying over 50 homes as ENERGY STAR in 2021 and featured ENERGY STAR prominently in marketing materials, including consumer brochures, and social media posts.
Read more about the 2022 ENERGY STAR Award Winners' achievements.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7).  Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s 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 an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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