OSHA Issues Recommended Practices to Promote Construction Safety

December 05, 2016

OSHA recently issued Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction to help industry employers develop proactive programs to keep their workplaces safe. The recommendations may be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized contractors who lack safety and health specialists on staff.

Safety and health programs encourage finding and fixing workplace hazards before they cause injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Implementing these programs also helps reduce the financial difficulties these events can cause for workers, their families and their employers.

Contractors can create a safety and health program using a number of simple steps that include: training workers on how to identify and control hazards; inspecting the jobsite with workers to identify problems with equipment and materials; and developing responses to possible emergency scenarios in advance.

"The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

The recommended practices for a safety and health program are flexible and can be adjusted to fit small and large construction companies handling short-term or multi-year projects. Working with employees to implement a program can offer other benefits including improvements in production and quality; greater employee morale; improved employee recruiting and retention; and a more favorable image and reputation among customers, suppliers and the community.

These recommendations are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

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Anaheim RCRA and DOT Training

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Pertuzumab To Be Listed as Reproductive Hazard

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intends to list pertuzumab as known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity (developmental endpoint) under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. This action is being proposed under the “Formally Required to Be Labeled or Identified” listing mechanism.

Pertuzumab is a drug used to treat certain types of cancer. It has been identified and labeled to communicate a risk of reproductive harm (developmental endpoint) (FDA, 2015) in accordance with formal requirements by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA-approved label indicates that uses of pertuzumab during pregnancy can cause embryo-fetal death and birth defects. PERJETA® is a trade name of the drug pertuzumab.

Because this is a ministerial listing, comments should be limited to whether FDA requires that pertuzumab be labeled to communicate a risk of developmental harm. OEHHA cannot consider scientific arguments concerning the weight or quality of the evidence considered by FDA when it established the labeling requirement and will not respond to such comments if they are submitted.

In order to be considered, OEHHA must receive comments by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. Comments transmitted by e-mail should be addressed to P65Public.Comments@oehha.ca.gov. Include “pertuzumab” in the subject line. Comments received during the public comment period will be posted on the OEHHA web site after the close of the comment period.

For additional information, contact Michelle Ramirez at Michelle.Ramirez@oehha.ca.gov or at 916-445-6900.

Vismodegib To Be Listed as a Reproductive Hazard

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intends to list vismodegib as known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity (developmental, female, and male endpoints) under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. This action is being proposed under the “Formally Required to Be Labeled or Identified” listing mechanism.

Vismodegib is a drug used to treat certain types of skin cancer. It has been identified and labeled to communicate a risk of reproductive harm (developmental, female, and male endpoints) (FDA, 2015) in accordance with formal requirements by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA-approved label indicates that uses of ERIVEDGE can cause embryo-fetal death or severe birth defects. Also, studies in animal models indicate that male and female reproductive function and fertility may be impaired in patients receiving ERIVEDGE. Erivedge is a trade name of a drug that is composed of vismodegib.

Because this is a ministerial listing, comments should be limited to whether FDA requires that vismodegib be labeled to communicate a risk of reproductive or developmental harm. OEHHA cannot consider scientific arguments concerning the weight or quality of the evidence considered by FDA when it established the labeling requirement and will not respond to such comments if they are submitted.

In order to be considered, OEHHA must receive comments by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. Comments transmitted by e-mail should be addressed to P65Public.Comments@oehha.ca.gov (link sends e-mail). Please include “vismodegib” in the subject line.

For questions, contact Michelle Ramirez at Michelle.Ramirez@oehha.ca.gov or at 916-445-6900.

SSA Pacific Employee Suffered Fatal Fall

For longshoremen who load and offload timber in the upper Northwest, every ship that sails into port carries a reminder of the litany of hazards they face at work. Loads of extremely heavy logs must be handled carefully to avoid serious and potentially fatal injuries. At the same time, employers must take all necessary steps to ensure the work area is free of avoidable hazards—a lesson apparently lost on a Seattle-based cargo handling company following the June 2016 death of a 48-year-old longshoreman.

Jim Meadows was employed by SSA Pacific when he suffered fatal injuries after he fell 10 feet onto the metal deck of the Forest Trader, a 21,000-ton bulk carrier cargo ship registered in Panama.

OSHA cited his employer for willfully failing to protect its workers from falls into hatches and cargo holds. The citations follow an OSHA investigation prompted by Meadows' death. Agency inspectors who boarded the vessel found numerous hazardous areas where no netting or fall protection measures existed.

"Jim Meadows death was preventable, if only a few commonsense measures had been taken to prevent his fall and to protect his coworkers," said Galen Blanton, OSHA regional administrator in Seattle. "OSHA has cited SSA Pacific for similar violations in Oregon and Florida in the past three years in the hopes of avoiding a tragedy like this. Every employer has a solemn duty to make sure its workers return home safely at the end of every shift."

Despite OSHA guidelines that clearly recommend fall protection measures, such as netting and temporary platforms, to protect workers, SSA management claimed the crews used "buddy systems" with spotters to warn one another when one of them was working too close to hatches or risked falling overboard when securing loads of logs. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union challenged the claim that a spotter system was in place.

Walker International Events Ordered Not to Resume Operations Without Safety and Health Plan

OSHA cited Florida-based Walker International Events on February 4, 2016, for 14 serious violations of workplace safety standards in connection with a circus tent collapse in Lancaster, New Hampshire, on August 3, 2015, during a severe thunderstorm. The collapse killed a young child and her father, injured dozens, and endangered both workers and spectators.

OSHA found that—despite repeated National Weather Service and other warnings of severe storms—Walker elected to proceed with a scheduled outdoor circus performance. The company also failed to install the outdoor circus tent safely as directed by Walker's engineering plan, or in keeping with industry standards. For these reasons, OSHA cited the company for violation of section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, that requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The agency also cited Walker for violations of electrical standards. Walker contested its citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHRC Judge William S. Coleman has now approved a settlement between the department and Walker International Events. Under its terms, Walker has accepted the citations, verified that the violations have been abated and will pay $24,000 in fines. In addition, Walker, which is currently out of business, will not resume operations unless it first implements a comprehensive safety and health management plan that includes procedures for the safe installation of outdoor tents with provisions for inspections of each tent installation.

"While nothing can undo the tragedy in Lancaster, this settlement does seek to prevent future such occurrences. If and when Walker International Events resumes operations, it must first put into place a comprehensive safety and health plan to ensure the proper erection and maintenance of tents and its adherence to OSHA standards," said Michael Felsen, the New England regional solicitor of labor. "This case serves as a reminder to employers everywhere that severe weather can present significant safety and health hazards to their employees, and that they must take adequate precautions to address those hazards."

OSHA's Concord Area Office conducted the original inspection. Robin Ackerman of the department's regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston litigated the case.

USPS Fined $342,059 After Workers Exposed to Bloodborne Pathogen Hazards

On November 22, 2016, OSHA issued citations to the U.S. Postal Service, LLC, doing business as Brooklyn South Carrier Annex for one serious, two willful, and three repeat health violations.

OSHA began the inspection on May 24, 2016, in response to a complaint alleging employee exposure to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids while handling packages labeled as containing biological infectious materials.

The willful violations relate to the employer's failure to have an implemented written bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan, including performing an exposure determination and offering exposed employees the Hepatitis B vaccine. Additionally, the USPS failed to implement a hazard communication program. The employer did not properly train workers for bloodborne pathogen protection or provide them with properly sized gloves, resulting in the other violations.

"Exposure to bloodborne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses. To reduce or eliminate these hazards at USPS's Brooklyn facility, an exposure control plan must be implemented to protect employees and provide a safe and healthy workplace," said Nadira Janack, director at OSHA's Baltimore Area Office.

Proposed penalties total $342,059.

JFM International Fined $107,952 for Exposing Workers to Amputation, Chemical Hazards

OSHA investigated JFM International in September 2016, after receiving complaints from an employee. Investigators found machines with exposed rotating parts lacking safeguards to protect against amputation or serious injury. Workers were also overexposed to noise, which can lead to hearing loss. OSHA cited the company for three serious health violations, including not protecting employees from electrical and flammable chemical hazards and failing to record a workplace injury.

Proposed penalties total $107,952.

"JFM International must protect its employees from amputations by ensuring machinery has the proper guards," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in North Houston. "This company has to take a serious look at its current safety program and implement changes that keep workers out of harm's way."

Foundations Behavioral Health Workers Exposed to Violence, Bloodborne Hazards

On November 10, 2016, OSHA issued Universal Health Services of Doylestown, Inc., doing business as Foundations Behavioral Health, citations for four serious violations.

OSHA's inspection began on May 13, 2016, after the Allentown, Pennsylvania, area office received a complaint alleging problems related to workplace violence at the facility.

The agency cited the serious violations for the company's failure to:

  • Protect workers from the hazard of workplace violence such as physical assaults by patients (e.g., by ensuring workers used protective arm guards to protect against injuries from incidents of biting)
  • Conduct an annual review of its bloodborne pathogen program
  • Provide annual bloodborne pathogen training to registered nurses and mental health technicians

"Hospitals and other healthcare settings pose significant safety and health risks to workers. OSHA standards prevent these employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other common dangers. Foundations Behavioral Health failed to provide a safe and healthful workplace, which is unacceptable," said Jean Kulp, director of OSHA's Allentown Area Office.

Proposed penalties total $36,701.

Deadline Extended for Comments on Proposed Rule to Improve Provisions in Its Standards

OSHA is extending the comment period for its proposal to revise provisions in the agency's recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards. Originally scheduled to expire Dec. 5, 2016, the comment period will be extended to January 4, 2017, to allow parties more time to review the rule and collect necessary information and data for comments.

The agency is revising provisions in its standards that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary.

Individuals may submit comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments also may be submitted by facsimile or mail. The deadline for comments is January 4, 2017.

OSHA Schedules Meeting of National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

OSHA will hold a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, December 14, 2016, in Washington, D.C. The NACOSH Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Professionals Pipeline Work Group will meet December 13.

The tentative agenda for the committee meeting includes: NACOSH's consideration of the draft regulatory text and report that OSHA requested the NACOSH Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee to develop; an update on OSHA initiatives from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels; remarks from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Director Dr. John Howard; and a report from the NACOSH OSH Professionals Pipeline Work Group.

The work group will continue discussions on promoting careers in occupational safety and health and growing the next generation of OSH professionals. The work group will also hear from NIOSH about their programs and initiatives in this area.

NACOSH will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., December 14, in Room N-4437, Conference Rooms A–D, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210. Some committee members may attend by teleconference. The work group will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., December 13, in the same room. Both meetings are open to the public. Comments and requests to speak at the NACOSH meeting may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments and requests to speak is December 7, 2016.

NACOSH advises, consults with and makes recommendations to the secretaries of labor and health and human services on matters relating to the Occupational Safety and Health Act including regulatory, research, compliance assistance and enforcement issues.

Secretary of Labor Renews Charter of Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez recently renewed the charter of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that all advisory committees renew their charters every two years. The renewed ACCSH charter, expiring November 17, 2018, includes minor updates to better describe the management of the committee's records.

ACCSH, established under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, advises the secretary of labor and assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on construction standards and policy matters. ACCSH consists of 15 members representing workers, employers, state and federal safety and health agencies, and the public. The committee holds two to six meetings per year, which are open to the public.

OSHA Renews Alliance with National STEPS Network and NIOSH to Protect Workers in Oil and Gas Extraction Industry

OSHA recently renewed its alliance with the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The alliance will continue efforts to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in oil and gas exploration and production.

During the five-year renewal agreement, participants will develop and distribute additional hazard alerts, continue to support standardized orientation training for new workers, and disseminate OSHA resources and information generated by NIOSH research to employers and workers.

Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, signed the agreement at the Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference in Houston, where more than 900 industry representatives, safety and health organizations, and educators gathered to discuss ways to improve safety in the oil and gas industry.

"While I am pleased with the work that we have done through our alliance, there are still too many oil and gas industry workers who are hurt or killed on the job," Michaels said. "These tragedies are preventable and we need to continue to work together to address hazards, prevent injuries and save lives."

During the initial two-year agreement, the alliance participants enhanced a NIOSH database of fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry, and used the database to help drive the alliance's activities. For example, participants developed and distributed hazard alerts on tank gauging and hot work based on an analysis of fatalities identified in the database. The participants also organized "Step-Up for Safety in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry," a nationwide safety event held earlier this year in which employers took time out to conduct site inspections, safety training and other activities.

Founded in 2003, the National STEPS Network is a volunteer organization that includes industry operators and contractors, industry associations, OSHA and NIOSH representatives, and educational institutions who promote safety, health and environmental improvement in oil and gas exploration and production in U.S. onshore operations. The Alliance participants will also continue to work closely with NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda Oil and Gas Extraction Council.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections or any other enforcement benefits.

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