November 29, 2001

OSHA will provide training to employers nationwide on its new recordkeeping rule via a satellite broadcast scheduled for 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 12. The broadcast was originally scheduled for Nov. 29. Employers can access the training through community colleges and other local organizations that have facilities to receive satellite broadcasts. OSHA is not charging a fee for the broadcast, although local facilities may charge an access fee.The broadcast will remain available for review via the agency's website through June 2002. OSHA's updated injury and illness recordkeeping requirements, covering about 1.4 million employers, take effect Jan. 1, 2002.

"Making training available nationwide via satellite is a first for OSHA," said John L. Henshaw, who heads the agency. "It's part of our extensive outreach program to be sure that all employers have the information they need to meet the new requirements."

Henshaw noted that the agency has placed a wide array of materials on its website including copies of the rule and new forms, fact sheets, a brochure and several PowerPoint training programs. OSHA also plans to mail out new recordkeeping forms in early December to the 1.4 million employers affected by the rule. In late October, Henshaw sent a letter to nearly 200 OSHA stakeholders, trade associations, professional societies and unions detailing OSHA outreach efforts and encouraging them to communicate with their members to help them understand the new rule.

Employers can contact their local OSHA offices for details about facilities in their area that will tune in to the Dec. 12 satellite training session.  States operating their own job safety and health programs are developing their own equivalent recordkeeping rules and can respond to questions and provide training and materials.


OSHA issued a new compliance directive for enforcing the bloodborne pathogens standard that was revised in January. The standard became effective on April 18.

The compliance directive guides OSHA's safety and health inspection officers in enforcing the standard that covers occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials, and ensures consistent inspection procedures are followed. It updates an earlier directive issued in 1999 and incorporates changes mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act passed in November 2000.

The directive implements changes made to the standard that focus on the requirement that employers select safer needle devices as they become available and involve employees in identifying and choosing those devices. The standard now also requires most employers to maintain a log of injuries from contaminated sharps.

The directive highlights the major new requirements of the standard including:

  • evaluation and implementation of safer needle devices as part of the re-evaluation of appropriate engineering controls during an employer's annual exposure control plan;
  • documentation of the involvement of non-managerial, frontline employees in choosing safer devices; and
  • establishment and maintenance of a sharps injury log for recording injuries from contaminated sharps.

Compliance officers are reminded that no one safer medical device is appropriate for all situations; employers must consider and implement devices that are appropriate, commercially available and effective. The directive also includes detailed instructions on inspections of multi-employer worksites, including employment agencies, personnel services, home health services, physicians and healthcare professionals in independent practices, and independent contractors.

Also included in the directive are engineering control evaluation forms, a web site resource list, a model exposure control plan which incorporates the most current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control regarding management of occupational exposure to the hepatitis B and C viruses, and the HIV virus.


The electrocution death of a worker who came in contact with energized power lines at a Blackstone, Mass., sewer installation project has resulted in $62,600 in proposed fines against his employer.

OSHA has cited ODF Contractors, of Dorchester, Mass., for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following the July 5 accident.

The worker was standing in the elevated bucket of an excavator attempting to tie together overhead wiring when the arm of the excavator contacted an energized power line, killing him instantly.

"The inspection found that the excavator was operating within 10 feet of energized lines, a clear violation of OSHA standards with which this employer was certainly familiar," said Ronald E. Morin, OSHA area director for Central Massachusetts. "As a result, we have issued a willful citation for failing to maintain a safe distance from the lines and proposed a fine of $56,000 for that hazard."

A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Three serious citations, totaling $6,600 in fines, were also issued. Two are for allegedly exposing employees to serious shock hazards by allowing the worker to use the excavator bucket without first deenergizing the power lines and for lack of ground fault protection for employees using a submersible pump to remove water from a trench. The third citation is for placing the excavator at the edge of an excavation, into which it could fall in the event of a collapse of the trench's walls. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from the cited condition, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

ODF Contractors has 15 working days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect 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.


The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-Atlantic Region awarded an Emmy to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) and the National Science Teachers Association's (NSTA) video "Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety." This video, which competed in the category "Outstanding Children's Program/One-time Only Special," is one component of the supplementary food science curriculum "Science and Our Food Supply" developed by FDA and NSTA.

"Receiving the Emmy for 'Dr. X and the Quest for Food Safety' demonstrates that science programs can be creative and entertaining while at the same time providing valuable information to students," said Joseph A. Levitt, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

The video features a savvy food scientist, Dr. X, and a student who introduces and reinforces the science concepts of food safety from the farm to the table. Dr. X explores behind-the-scenes research in laboratories and the latest food safety technologies that affect the foods we eat. Students learn how microbes live, grow and spread, and they meet real-life scientists working in a variety of food science careers. Requests can also be mailed to NSTA, Science and Our Food Supply, 1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201-3000 or faxed to 703-522-5413.