OSHA Small Business Outreach Seminars On Personal Protective Equipment To Be Offered In May At Six Upstate New York Locations

April 17, 2003
Helping small Upstate New York employers ensure the safety of their employees using personal protective equipment is the goal of seminars being offered by the Buffalo office of OSHA in conjunction with area organizations and colleges.

The same seminar, on the topic of personal protective equipment, is being offered at six different locations during May as follows:

May 1, 2003 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Erie Community College South Campus, Orchard Park, NY
NCCC Corporate Training Center, Lockport, NY
May 8, 2003 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY
Jamestown Community College, Olean, NY
May 15, 2003 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Genesee Community College, Batavia, NY
SUNY Brockport MetroCenter, Rochester, NY

"Quite often, personal protective equipment is the first-line of defense in protecting an employee against a known hazard. Employers and employees need to know when and how to use this important and potentially life-saving equipment," said Art Dube, OSHA's Buffalo area director. "This seminar will explain how a small business owner can assess hazards in their workplace and determine when personal protective equipment is necessary."

The session is part of the OSHA Small Business Seminar Series covering a variety of topics that the federal agency will offer this year to assist small Upstate New York employers in complying with workplace safety and health standards.

To register for one of the May seminars, and to obtain more information, contact the Buffalo OSHA Area Office at 716-684-3891.

Co-sponsors with OSHA are: the New York State Department of Labor On-site Consultation Service, the OSHA Education Center at Niagara County Community College's Corporate Training Center, Jamestown Community College, the Jamestown Small Business Development Center, the Manufacturing Association of the Greater Jamestown Area, Erie Community College Department of Workforce Development, the Niagara Community College Small Business Development Center and the SUNY College at Buffalo State Small Business Development Center, the Greater Olean Chamber of Commerce, SUNY College at Brockport Small Business Development Center, Genesee Community College, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, the Rochester Business Alliance and the National Safety Council.

CSB Releases Preliminary Findings in Kaltech Industries Explosion in New York - Cites Improper Mixing of Waste Chemicals, Lack of Workplace Safety Procedures

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will present preliminary findings from an investigation into the April 25, 2002, explosion at Kaltech Industries, which injured 31 people seriously enough to seek hospital treatment, including 14 members of the public.

The findings are to be released in a public meeting in New York City not far from the site of the explosion, which occurred in the mixed-occupancy building at 123 19th Street.

Lead CSB investigator Steve Selk reports Kaltech employees improperly mixed hazardous waste chemicals in an operation that lacked basic safe handling procedures. "The investigation found the chemicals that most likely produced the explosion were nitric acid and lacquer thinner, which workers combined in a 55-gallon drum," Selk says. "An uncontrolled chemical reaction between the two materials produced significant amounts of gas or vapor that exploded within the basement, causing significant damage as high as the fifth floor."

"The Kaltech chemical explosion seriously injured many workers and members of the public and disrupted the lives of New Yorkers," according to CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt. "We are very concerned with any chemical accident that has a significant impact on the public. Our investigation can help prevent similar accidents in the future."

Mr. Selk told the five-member board in his report, "Kaltech did not maintain a list of chemicals in the workplace. The company did not provide its employees with required safety data sheets on the chemicals or train workers on the hazards of the chemicals. Apparently management was simply not aware of the federal safety regulations requiring those things."

Selk said the blast also caused a secondary fire by knocking over a drum of alcohol, which spilled and ignited, possibly by contact with nearby unapproved electrical equipment.

The CSB's preliminary findings indicate that Kaltech failed to follow a number of OSHA requirements which likely would have prevented the accident. However, the investigation found that OSHA had never inspected the company or its predecessor sign business in at least ten years.

Investigator Selk said that many cities and states institute their own codes on handling hazardous materials. Although New York City's fire regulations include various controls, Selk noted, "Other fire codes require that businesses maintain material safety data sheets, label all containers, and submit hazardous materials management plans before permits are issued. These codes parallel federal OSHA regulations, and they afford local inspectors the authority to enforce safe practices."

The Board was scheduled to hear testimony from New York officials and fire code experts on the possible need for the city to modify its codes to reduce the hazards from industrial chemicals.

Chairman Merritt said: "Despite federal, state, and local regulations already on the books, in this case a small business was able to handle large volumes of hazardous waste without following effective safety practices. We hope our findings ultimately can help local authorities get the regulatory and enforcement tools they need to ensure safe chemical handling."

A number of community groups, business associations, worker safety advocates and others were expected to comment on the issue at the hearing.

The CSB is an independent federal agency established in 1998 with the mission to protect workers, the public, and the environment by investigating and preventing chemical accidents. The CSB determines the root causes of these accidents and makes safety recommendations to government agencies, companies, and other organizations. The CSB does not issue fines or citations or apportion responsibility for accidents.

For more information visit www.csb.gov or contact Sandy Gilmour Communications 202-251-5496 (cell) or Daniel Horowitz, 202-345-4960 (cell).

Numerous Repeat and Serious Safety and Health Hazards Lead to $112,000 in Fines for Cabinet Manufacturer

A Southington, Conn., cabinet manufacturer's failure to address a wide range of safety and health hazards has resulted in $112,000 in fines from OSHA.

Les-Care Kitchens, Inc. has been cited for thirty alleged serious and repeat violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its 95 Spring St. plant following an inspection conducted under a targeting program that directs OSHA to workplaces with higher-than-average numbers of workdays lost to injuries or illnesses.

The largest fines, $65,000, are proposed for six alleged repeat violations for failing to assess workplace hazards to determine if employees required personal protective equipment and training; failing to develop and train workers in machine-specific lockout procedures; ungrounded electrical wiring and equipment; failing to provide annual bloodborne pathogen training; no written hazard communication program and training; and illegible warning plates on forklifts.

According to Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA's Hartford area director, these citations were classified as repeat because OSHA had cited Les-Care Kitchens for substantially similar hazards at the firm's Waterbury, Conn., production facility in July 2002.

The inspection also identified 24 alleged serious violations for which additional fines of $47,000 are proposed. These citations encompass machine guarding, electrical and fall hazards; locked and blocked exit doors; defective forklifts; lack of an eyewash station; and deficiencies in required hearing conservation programs, bloodborne pathogens, personal protective equipment and confined space hazards

Les-Care Kitchens has 15 business 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.

OSHA Fines Pipe Company $196,000 For Safety and Health Hazards

OSHA announced that it issued citations to Tyler Pipe Co. for violations of health and safety requirements that put its employees in danger and imposed penalties of $196,000. In August 2002 the company, a division of Ransom Industries, paid $1 million for violating workplace safety and health standards.

"OSHA is holding Tyler Pipe accountable for the well being of their employees," said John L. Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. "We expect them to step up to the plate and make their facility a safer place for their employees."

OSHA issued the latest citations on April 11, 2003, to Tyler Pipe for 13 serious violations, four repeat violations and one other-than-serious violation from an OSHA inspection initiated Oct. 15, 2002, which was a follow-up to an inspection conducted in December 2000. The citations resulting from the Oct. 15 inspection also include citations resulting from an Oct. 29, 2002, accident at the facility that left an employee seriously injured.

The 13 serious violations address the company's failure to provide protection, including rescue and responding services, for employees working in confined spaces. Other violations include failing to provide adequate fall protection, failure to observe lockout/tagout procedures, failure to repair and maintain safe aisles and passageways; failure to properly store stacked items and failure to properly mark motorized tools. A serious violation is cited when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The four repeat violations were for failure to clearly outline energy control procedures; failure to inspect energy control procedures; failure to provide lockout/tagout procedures to employees regarding energy control, and failure to properly balance loads on lifting devices before being lifted. A repeat violation is when the same or similar violation for which the company has been previously cited is found again upon re-inspection.

Tyler Pipe agreed to pay the $196,000 in penalties, accept the violations and penalties as they were originally classified and to enter into a settlement agreement with OSHA with specific plans for enhancing the company's safety and health programs. These plans include safety programs to cover independent contractors performing work at Tyler Pipe's site and enhanced communication on safety responsibilities.

"Tyler Pipe representatives approached OSHA and agreed to make improvements to the company's safety and health programs," said Kathryn Delaney, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "Progress is being made, and the company is cooperating with OSHA inspections."

Tyler Pipe Co. casts and finishes gray-iron pipes and fittings for soil pipe and utility uses and employs approximately 1,600 workers at two plants in Tyler and one facility each in Pennsylvania, Missouri and California. The Tyler facility is organized into a north and south plant, each containing a casting and finishing area, as well as machine tooling and distribution departments.

Fact Sheet Offers Information, Assistance on Emergency Escape Routes from the Workplace

Knowing how to escape from one's workplace during an emergency is not just another safety and health issue requiring compliance by employers and consideration by workers. Armed with valid and reliable information, that knowledge can save lives.

OSHA developed the Emergency Exit Routes fact sheet designed to ensure employers and workers are equipped with that information. The fact sheet augments the agency's standard on exit routes, and emergency action and fire prevention plans.

"No one should need reminding how quickly an event can occur that necessitates emergency evacuation from the workplace," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "The information we've compiled in this fact sheet provides a readily-available tool to aid employers and workers in being prepared to safely evacuate their workplaces should an emergency occur."

Information in the fact sheet not only defines exit routes and explains how many exit routes a worksite should have, but also provides information on how to design an exit route that will ensure safe evacuation for all workers. Also included is a list of required maintenance, safeguarding and operational features for exit routes.

The fact sheet provides information on emergency action plan requirements, detailing the plan's minimum elements, such as procedures for reporting fires and other emergencies, personnel accountability, alarm systems, etc. Minimum provisions and requirements for fire prevention plans are also outlined in the fact sheet. Finally, a list of resources for more details on exit routes and related OSHA standards are provided.

OSHA recently revamped its 30-year-old standard dealing with exit routes, emergency action and fire prevention plans, wrapping it in a user-friendlier format with clear, consistent and up-to-date information. Inconsistent and duplicative requirements were replaced with simple, and straightforward terms that aid workers and employers in understanding the important regulation. The revised standard was effective on Dec. 9, 2002.

The fact sheet may be downloaded at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/emergency-exit-routes-factsheet.pdf