March 02, 2020
OSHA has launched an initiative to have agency inspections focus on reducing workplace hazards that can lead to amputation injuries for workers in Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry.
The initiative extends OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP)
on amputations, an update of the agency’s 2015 directive. A NEP is a temporary program that focuses agency resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries, while not creating any new obligation for employers.
The NEP on amputations will target industrial and manufacturing workplaces where OSHA has determined that unguarded or improperly guarded machinery and equipment played a role in employee injuries. OSHA also seeks to raise awareness of amputation hazards in the state’s manufacturing industry through a concerted education and prevention effort. The agency will begin NEP enforcement activities after March 10, 2020, that will remain in effect until OSHA cancels the program. In the interim, OSHA will continue to respond to complaints, referrals, hospitalizations and fatalities.
“When not properly safeguarded, moving machine parts can cause severe workplace injuries, like amputations,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Rivera in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations in Manufacturing Industries aims to raise employer and worker awareness about the safeguards essential for preventing these unnecessary and devastating injuries.”
The NEP reinforces employers’ current responsibility for ensuring proper machine safeguards are in place to prevent worker amputations and other serious and fatal injuries. OSHA’s Machine Guarding webpage
provides compliance assistance resources to help employers identify amputation hazards, and follow required procedures to properly guard stationary and portable machines.
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Comparing PFAS Exposures in Female Firefighters and Office Workers
Firefighters have higher rates of some cancers than the general population, which might not be surprising given the many potential carcinogens they encounter while battling blazes. However, previous studies of chemical exposures in this occupation have focused almost exclusively on men. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology
have compared poly- and perfluorinated substances (PFAS) in the serum of female firefighters and female office workers, finding higher levels of three compounds in the firefighters.
Manufacturers apply PFAS to many consumer products, such as fabrics, furniture and food containers, to make the items stain-, water- and grease-resistant. Firefighters likely have additional exposures through their equipment, including PFAS-containing protective gear and firefighting foam. Particularly relevant to women firefighters, some PFAS are endocrine disruptors that affect mammary gland development, possibly impairing lactation or increasing susceptibility to breast cancer. To find out if women firefighters are exposed to elevated levels of these substances, Rachel Morello-Frosch and colleagues with the Women Firefighters Biomonitoring Collaborative compared serum levels of PFAS in female firefighters and female office workers.
The researchers collected blood serum samples from 86 women firefighters and 84 female office workers in San Francisco. The team analyzed levels of 12 different PFAS in the samples using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. They detected a total of eight PFAS in the samples, four of which were present in all study participants. Firefighters had modestly higher levels (up to twice as much) of three compounds –– PFNA, PFUnDA and PFHxS –– in their serum than office workers. Among firefighters, those who reported using firefighting foam in the year prior to sample collection had higher PFAS concentrations than those who had not. These results could help guide efforts to reduce workplace exposure to PFAS in female firefighters, the researchers say.
Two Companies Cited After Employee’s Fatal Fall in Media, Pennsylvania
OSHA has cited CLF Construction Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. for exposing employees to fall hazards after a CLF employee suffered fatal injuries in a fall at a worksite in Media, Pennsylvania. OSHA proposed $170,560 in penalties for Philadelphia-based subcontractor CLF Construction, and $74,217 for Horsham, Pennsylvania-based general contractor Toll Brothers.
OSHA initiated an inspection on Aug. 1, 2019, after a CLF Construction Inc. employee fell 20 feet from a residential structure as he did framing work, and was then hospitalized and later died. OSHA cited Toll Brothers Inc. with one repeat violation for failing to ensure that the framing subcontractor provided employees with fall protection. OSHA cited CLF Construction Inc. for one serious violation and two willful violations for failing to provide and require the use of proper fall protection systems, and not developing and implementing an accident prevention program to assist in identifying and correcting hazardous conditions during residential construction activities.
“Appropriate fall protection could have prevented this tragedy,” said OSHA Philadelphia Area Director Theresa Downs. “Every worker has the right to a safe workplace, and employers will be held accountable when they fail to meet this obligation.”
Charcoal Manufacturer Cited for Multiple Hazards at Two Missouri Locations
OSHA has cited Royal Oak Enterprises for exposing employees to multiple safety and health hazards at company facilities in Branson and Summersville, Missouri. The charcoal manufacturer faces $339,702 in penalties.
OSHA cited the Branson facility for 19 serious violations for exposing employees to confined space entry, electrical, housekeeping, hearing, and forklift hazards; deficiencies in lockout/tagout; inadequate machine guarding; and failure to mount a fire extinguisher.
OSHA cited the Summersville facility for 10 serious violations for electrical and forklift hazards, accumulation of combustible material and exposing employees to silica dust.
"Every employer is required to provide a workplace free of hazards," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "Employers who implement a safety and health program that includes identifying and fixing hazards can minimize the risk of worker injuries and illnesses."
Rail Car Tank Cleaning and Repair Facility Fined $371,276 for Safety and Health Hazards
OSHA has cited Dana Rail Care for workplace safety and health hazards at the facility in Wilmington, Delaware. The company faces $371,276 in penalties.
OSHA initiated an inspection of the tank rail car cleaning and repair facility in August 2019 after receiving a complaint of numerous safety and health hazards. OSHA cited the company for electrical and explosion hazards, insufficient means of egress, use of defective powered industrial trucks, lack of medical clearance for respiratory protection use, improper use of respirators and inadequate secondary air supply, and lack of signage in a silica-regulated area.
This is the second time in recent months that OSHA has cited Dana Rail Care for safety and health violations. In November 2019, OSHA issued a citation
and proposed more than $550,000 in penalties following an employee fatality in Pittston, Pennsylvania, in May 2019. The company has contested that citation and the proposed penalties.
“Failure to comply with OSHA standards leaves employees vulnerable to dangers that can cause serious and potentially fatal injuries,” said OSHA Area Director Erin Gilmore, in Wilmington, Delaware. “Employers have an obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace for their workers.”
“OSHA has extensive resources to help employers and employees understand how to comply with workplace safety and health standards,” stated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Employers must ensure that workers are provided necessary workplace safety and health protections.”
R&R Contracting Services Cited for Multiple Hazards Following Workplace Fatality
OSHA has cited R&R Contracting Services Inc. after an employee suffered fatal injuries when he was crushed by a powered industrial truck at the company’s O’Fallon, Missouri, facility in September 2019. OSHA cited the portable restroom service provider for nine serious violations, and proposed penalties of $52,626.
OSHA alleges that the company failed to adequately train employees on the safe use of powered industrial vehicles ‒ commonly known as forklifts ‒ and failed to remove damaged vehicles from service. Inspectors also allege electrical and fire safety hazards, improper storage of oxygen and gas cylinders, deficiencies in the employer’s communication to employees regarding hazardous chemicals and a lack of guardrails on storage lofts, which exposed employees to fall hazards.
“Powered industrial trucks must be maintained and operated safely to prevent worker injury,” said OSHA St. Louis Area Office Director Bill McDonald. “Employers must develop comprehensive safety and health programs to address known issues in their facilities, and train workers on proper safety and health precautions.”
Lumber Facility Cited Following Accident
Oregon OSHA has cited Mid-Columbia Lumber Products for six violations of job safety rules – half of them repeat offenses – in connection with an accident investigation of the company’s worksite in Madras.
In one violation, the company, which manufactures framing lumber, exposed workers to serious harm or death by not controlling the hazards involved in maintaining a powered machine – an outfeed conveyor. In another, the company subjected workers to the dangers of getting caught in an unguarded rotating sprocket.
The hazardous energy violation – a failure to use lock out and tag out procedures to isolate a machine from its power source – is the second such violation committed by Mid-Columbia Lumber Products since 2016. Likewise, the unguarded machine violation was a repeat of the company’s carelessness in 2017.
“There is simply no reason to expose workers to hazards that we have long known how to control or eliminate,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “To repeatedly violate safety standards – standards that exist to protect people from harm – is the height of recklessness.”
Oregon OSHA opened an investigation of Mid-Columbia Lumber Products in September 2019, after an accident in which a worker attempted to put a moving chain back on the track of a moulder outfeed chain conveyor while it was still operating.
The worker’s left hand was dragged into the machine’s rotating sprocket. The worker’s injuries resulted in an amputated ring finger, an amputated pinky fingertip, and pins installed in the crushed middle and pointer fingers.
Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat violations. The citation against Mid-Columbia Lumber Products carries a total proposed penalty of $8,610. The fine amount includes a standard penalty reduction based on the company’s size.
Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited the company for the following violations:
- Failing to maintain an effective centralized safety committee, which employers with multiple locations may use. This serious violation included not having a written safety and health policy; not posting safety committee minutes; not training committee members on hazard identification; and not conducting quarterly inspections.
- Failing to conduct periodic inspections to ensure energy control procedures were being followed. This was a serious violation.
- Failing to develop, document, and use procedures to control potentially hazardous energy when employees are doing service or maintenance work on a powered machine. This was as repeat violation.
- Failing to provide machine guarding to protect employees from hazards created by point of operation, nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. This was a repeat violation.
- Failing to train employees in the safe application, use, and removal of energy control devices. This was a repeat violation.
- Failing to maintain and produce documents related to recording workplace injuries and illnesses. This was an other-than-serious violation.
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