OSHA recently issued a final rule to modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public, and OSHA about workplace hazards. With this new rule, OSHA is applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses.
OSHA requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses to help these employers and their employees identify hazards, fix problems, and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness every year. Currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers is made public or available to OSHA. Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency’s website.
Just as public disclosure of their kitchens’ sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety, OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”
The availability of these data will enable prospective employees to identify workplaces where their risk of injury is lowest; as a result, employers competing to hire the best workers will make injury prevention a higher priority. Access to these data will also enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, to improve their own safety programs.
To ensure that the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee’s right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting. This aspect of the rule targets employer programs and policies that, while nominally promoting safety, have the effect of discouraging workers from reporting injuries and, in turn leading to incomplete or inaccurate records of workplace hazards.
Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses, enabling researchers to better study injury causation, identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities. OSHA will remove all personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is publicly accessible.
Under the new rule, all establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.
The new requirements take effect August 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017. These requirements do not add to or change an employer’s obligation to complete and retain injury and illness records under the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses regulation.
Baltimore RCRA, DOT, and IATA Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Baltimore, MD, on June 7–9 and save $100. Ensure you have the training you need to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA Regulations on June 10. To register for these courses click here or call 800-537-2372.
Baton Rouge RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Baton Rouge, LA, on June 7–9 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Chattanooga RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Chattanooga, TN, on June 14–16 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)
OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on safety data sheets.
Environmental Resource Center is offering live online training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented. Bring your questions to the upcoming webcast on How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) on July 13.
Deadly Gas Release at Atlantic Coffee Industrial Solutions Asphyxiates Worker
OSHA began an inspection November 12, 2015, at the Atlantic Coffee facility in Houston after the release of carbon dioxide asphyxiated a 53-year-old shift supervisor. Following its inspection, OSHA issued citations for nine serious violations. The employer did not provide proper training to its workers for stopping the release of a hazardous chemical. Additionally, the company did not have the proper procedures in place for stopping releases.
Proposed penalties total $63,000.
“The uncontrolled release of carbon dioxide is dangerous. If the employer expects its workers to stop the release, it must develop and implement a detailed emergency response plan with specific procedures for stopping the release,” said Mark Briggs, OSHA’s area director in the Houston South office. “Untrained employees can quickly find themselves in a chaotic situation not knowing what to do and suffering serious or sometimes deadly injury.”
Safety Violations at Tritter Feefer Home Collection LLC Led to Amputation
OSHA began an investigation after learning a Tritter employee suffered a workplace injury that required hospitalization. On December 14, 2015, the 26-year-old furniture builder was using a table saw to cut wood strips when his right hand made contact with the saw blade. The tip of the worker’s middle finger was amputated and he suffered deep cuts to his index finger and thumb. Inspectors discovered that the safety guards on the saw had been removed. OSHA has established a National Emphasis Program on Amputations to identify and reduce workplace amputation hazards.
The agency cited Tritter for willfully exposing workers to an unguarded saw blade.
The serious citations relate to the employer’s failure to ensure drill presses were properly guarded and secured to the floor. Additionally the employer exposed workers to electric shock and fire hazards from improper wiring and unsafe installation.
“This horrific and totally preventable injury is a stark reminder of the dangers of disregarding OSHA standards,” said Christi Griffin, OSHA’s director of the Atlanta-West Office. “Aside from the saw that injured the worker, we found other unguarded machines and hazards that Tritter must address immediately, before another incident happens.”
Proposed penalties total $58,520.
Three Rivers Energy Fined $149,800 for Chemical, Grain-Handling Hazards
“Biofuels like ethanol are a fast-growing part of the energy sector. Its manufacture can involve potentially dangerous chemical reactions. Workers in biofuel facilities must be properly trained to operate equipment and respond to emergencies,” said Linda Harrington, OSHA’s acting area director in Columbus. “In addition to hazards in the manufacturing process, the storage of corn used in ethanol exposes workers to grain handling hazards like dust ignition and engulfment as workers move corn from storage to the processing area. Employers must protect workers from these hazards during their production processes.”
Inspectors found Three Rivers Energy’s ethanol production violated OSHA’s process safety management regulations including failing to:
- Develop written procedures for safely conducting tasks in the process, and for maintaining the ongoing integrity of equipment
- Train operators
- Correct equipment deficiencies
- Establish an incident investigation team and maintain accurate records
- Maintain adequate drawings and diagrams of pipes and instruments used in the chemical process
- Implement an emergency response plan for the plant and train workers in emergency response procedures
Other violations included failing to:
- Conduct personal protective equipment assessments
- Develop procedures and implement permit confined space requirements including testing atmospheric conditions and providing emergency and rescue equipment
- Train workers on grain bin safety and rescue operations
- Develop a written housekeeping program to remove grain dust and spills from the work area
- Install safeguards on machinery and live electrical parts
Michael Jones Contracting Fined $146,000 for Exposing Workers to Fall, Electrocution Hazards
OSHA opened an inspection on November 17, 2015, after an inspector observed an employee working from scaffolding with no fall protection as he did roof work; the scaffolding was also near an electrical power line. At the same time, the inspector saw other employees on a roof as high as 19 feet above ground with no fall protection. The agency issued citations for these hazards.
“Michael Jones Contracting failed to properly protect its employees at this work site, putting them in danger of a tragic fall or electrocution,” said Prentice Cline, OSHA’s area director in Charleston. “Every employer has a responsibility to provide employees with a safe and healthful workplace. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Proposed penalties total $146,400.
Higher Ground Tactical LLC Faces $135,220 in Fines for Exposing Workers to Willful Lead, Noise Hazards
- Use engineering or administrative controls where employees are exposed to excessive noise levels
- Implement a noise monitoring program
- Establish an audiometric testing program and evaluate hearing protection
- Train employees on the hazards of noise
- Conduct air monitoring for lead
- Establish a written lead compliance program
For these hazards, OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
OSHA cited serious violations as the company did not:
- Assess the employee’s need for, or train them on the use of personal protective equipment
- Develop hazard communication or respirator protection plans
- Implement engineering and work practice controls in areas where lead exceeded OSHA’s permissible exposure limits
- Provide protective work clothing
- Ensure employees consumed food and beverages in lead-free areas
- Ensure employees removed contaminated clothing before leaving the worksite
The other-than-serious citations involved failure to post a copy of the noise standard in the workplace or post warning signs in areas where lead levels exceeded OSHA’s permissible exposure limits.
“Indoor shooting range employers are well aware that noise and lead are common hazards in their industry. Higher Ground Tactical failed to take seriously its responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace by failing to protect workers from hazardous overexposure to noise and lead,” said Jean Kulp, OSHA’s area director in Allentown.
Proposed penalties total $135,200.
Reinhart Food Service, LLC, Exposed Employees to Dangerous Chemical Hazard
Responding to a complaint from employees at a Taunton facility operated by one of the nation’s largest food service distributors, OSHA found that a check valve in the food plant’s pump room leaked about nine pounds of anhydrous ammonia on October 21, 2015. Inspectors also found the ammonia sensor in the pump room did not sound an alarm as expected.
OSHA’s inspection identified several deficiencies in Reinhart Food Service, LLC’s Process Safety Management program, a comprehensive and effective program that covers every aspect of any process in the workplace involving large amounts of highly hazardous chemicals. In this case, the process is the facility’s refrigeration system which uses 27,500 lb of anhydrous ammonia.
Reinhart is the fourth largest foodservice distributor in the U.S., serving independent restaurants, delis, sporting venues, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, the military, and chain accounts.
“The leak was relatively small but the consequences could have been enormous. Exposure to even as little as 300 parts per million of anhydrous ammonia is immediately dangerous to life and health. An uncontrolled release can be lethal and catastrophic,” said Kenneth Shedden, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts.
The deficiencies included:
- Inadequate procedures for inspecting, testing and replacing valves and ammonia sensors consistent with the manufacturer’s recommended safety procedures
- Not ensuring that ammonia sensor alarms worked properly
- An inadequate emergency response plan
- Not ensuring that employees who responded with and provide support to hazardous materials technicians demonstrated competency
- Not taking adequate precautions to identify responders’ maximum exposure limits to ammonia
“For the health and well-being of its employees, Reinhart Food Service must correct these deficiencies and maintain an effective ongoing process safety management in the future,” said Shedden.
OSHA’s inspection also identified two hazards similar to those cited during earlier inspections of Reinhart’s New Bedford and Taunton facilities: unsecured and inadequately anchored large steel commercial storage racks that could have fallen and struck or crushed employees and unclosed openings on electrical cabinets and boxes.
As a result of its findings, OSHA cited Reinhart Food Service on April 20, 2016, for six serious and two repeated violations of workplace health standards. The company faces a total of $72,000 in proposed penalties.
Angel Brothers Enterprises Cited for Willful and Repeat Trenching Violations
OSHA issued a willful citation to Angel Brothers Enterprises Ltd., for exposing workers to trench hazards at its La Porte worksite. The investigation was initiated when Angel Brothers employees were seen working in an unprotected excavation site 9-feet deep as they installed storm sewers and adjusting existing underground utilities without any type of shoring, benching, or sloping. The employer is under a contract with Harris County, Precinct 2. OSHA initiated the investigation under its National Emphasis Program for Trenching.
This is the sixth time since 2009 that OSHA has cited Angel Brothers. In five of those inspections, the agency issued citations to the company for allowing workers to enter an unprotected trench or excavation. The company has been cited both repeat and willful for this violation in the past.
Proposed penalties total $70,000.
“Angel Brothers is well aware of the dangers associated with trenching and of OSHA standards. There is absolutely no excuse for continuing to endanger its workers,” said Mark Briggs, OSHA’s area director in the Houston South office. “It is fortunate our compliance officer was able to catch the violations before someone was buried alive.”
Kellenberger Plumbing & Underground Exposed Workers to Unprotected Trench
OSHA’s Calumet City Area Office cited Kellenberger Plumbing & Underground for one willful and one serious safety violation for not providing cave-in protection or having a competent person on site to remove employees from a hazardous area.
The agency opened an investigation under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavation after receiving a complaint that two workers were removing a sewer line in a trench more than 8-feet deep at a workplace under construction in Naperville on March 4, 2016.
“An unprotected trench can bury a worker under thousands of pounds of soil in seconds and cause severe or fatal injuries,” said Kathy Webb, OSHA’s area director at its Calumet City Area Office. “Since 2012, OSHA has now cited Kellenberger Plumbing three times for violating federal trenching standards. The company knows that every trench deeper than 5 feet must have cave-in protection. They are putting their employees in serious danger by ignoring federal safety standards.”
Proposed penalties total $59,290.
Thomson Plastics Fined $54,000 for Exposing Employees to Amputation
The agency cited the company for failing repeatedly to perform annual inspections of the energy control procedures to ensure compliance. OSHA cited the company for the same violation at this location in July 2012.
The serious violations relate to the employer not providing written energy control procedures to prevent machinery from starting during maintenance and servicing, and exposing workers to amputation hazards due to unguarded rotating fan blades. Proposed penalties total $54,000.
“Thomson Plastics—like all employers—have a legal, ethical, and moral obligation to assess the workplace for new or reoccurring safety hazards and to ensure measures are taken promptly to protect employees,” said William Fulcher, OSHA’s area director in the Atlanta-East Office. “Employers should not wait for an OSHA inspection or incident to occur before they proactively evaluate and correct hazards, especially when they have been cited previously.”
Wright Pallet Inc. Exposed Workers to Hearing Loss, Electrical, and Amputation Hazards
OSHA issues 12 serious safety violations to Wright Pallet, Inc., Inspectors from OSHA’s Toledo office opened an inspection under the Local Emphasis Program for pallet manufacturing. The agency found Wright Pallet’s workers exposed to multiple hazards including hearing loss and amputation hazards.
During its investigation, the agency found the company:
- Allowed workers to wear hearing protection improperly
- Failed to train workers in hearing conservation and electrical safety related work practices
- Allowed machines to operate without safety guards
- Lacked adequate lockout/tagout procedures to prevent unintentional machine starts during service and maintenance such as clearing jams, and adjusting operating parts
- Lacked electrical safe work practices, including not providing personal protective equipment
- Allowed forklift drivers to handle unstable loads and operate with a limited view of travel
- Improperly stored compressed gas cylinders
“Each year, thousands of workers suffer occupational hearing loss which can be permanent and debilitating,” said Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo. “Hearing loss is preventable with proper hearing protection, training and annual audiogram testing to monitor the effects of occupational exposure. Employers like Wright Pallet have a responsibility to implement training and safety procedures that protect workers on the job.”
Proposed penalties total $51,590.
Ozburn-Hessey Logistics LLC Refrigeration Warehouse Lacked Proper Procedures for Handling Ammonia
OSHA issued nine serious and two other-than-serious violations to Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, LLC. A January 2016 complaint investigation found the manufacturer violated OSHA’s process safety management procedures for ammonia used in the company’s refrigeration warehouse facility where more than 10,000 lb of ammonia are in use.
An investigation by the agency’s Appleton area office found the company failed to:
- Correct ice buildup, blistered and rusted piping on ammonia lines
- Develop operational procedures to maintain the ongoing integrity of refrigeration equipment
- Develop procedures for the safe completion of refrigeration related tasks while working at elevations
- Document inspections and maintenance for the ammonia refrigeration evaporator condenser
- Ensure piping and instrumentation diagrams are accurate
- Provide clear instructions to employees to mitigate ammonia releases during service and maintenance
- Provide personal protective and detection equipment necessary in the event of ammonia release
- Keep catwalks and passageways in good repair
“Exposure to ammonia can cause serious eye, throat and respiratory issues for employees,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director in Appleton. “When highly hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled and stored there is a potential for unintentional release. Companies that use refrigeration ammonia must carefully monitor their processes to ensure safe use.”
Proposed penalties total $42,000.
Cinch Connectors Inc. Fined $41,000 for 11 Violations
OSHA initiated the December 2015 inspection after a report that an employee at Cinch Connectors slipped and fell, and suffered injury. The agency cited the telecommunications connections company for seven serious and four other violations for having inadequate housekeeping, lack of noise monitoring and not performing audiometric testing, not assessing hazards, not having personal protective equipment for its workers, and having an inadequate lockout/tagout program. The fines total $41,000
“Cinch Connectors did not assess the potential hazards associated with its production of telecommunications products and an employee suffered injury as a result,” said Travis Clark, OSHA’s Area Director in the Corpus Christi office. “Preventing hazards in the workplace must be this employer’s top priority.”
OSHA Finds Serious Violations at Structural & Steel Products Manufacturing Ltd.
OSHA began an inspection November 19, 2015, after receiving a complaint about unsafe working conditions at Structural & Steel Products Manufacturing Ltd. Investigators with the Fort Worth Area Office responded and found 11 serious violations including:
- Having unrated, unstamped, and uninspected spreader bar
- Failing to ensure an overhead crane had rail stop bumpers installed
- Allowing exposed wiring at the pendant controls
- Not ensuring that overhead crane pendant control functions were identified and legible
- Failing to conduct monthly hook inspections, and failing to ensure certification records for the hooks were performed and maintained
- Failing to tag alloy steel slings used with the appropriate identification
- Failing to remove damaged synthetic web slings
- Allowing missing barrier guards on a press and winch
- Having damaged cables and the insulated sheathing pulled away on welding machines
- Having unused openings to the electrical boxes
- Lacking strain-relief mechanisms on electrical extension cords
Proposed penalties total $40,458.
“The violations we found at Structural & Steel Products Manufacturing demonstrate the company’s lax attitude toward protecting workers who move heavy steel from serious injury,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth. “A company of this size has the ability and resources to do what’s necessary to protect their employees from these types of hazards, but is failing in its responsibility.”
OSHA, Fehr’s Metal Building Construction Sign Alliance to Promote Worker Safety and Health
OSHA’s Lubbock Area Office and Fehr’s Metal Building Construction, LLC, signed an alliance on May 9 to promote a greater understanding of the workplace safety and health rights and responsibilities of both workers and employers. The alliance’s goal is to help improve safety by identifying areas of emphasis for continued awareness, outreach, and communication activities. It will concentrate on the Construction Focus Four hazards, a training program that puts emphasis on falls, caught-in or in-between, struck-by, and electrocution hazards. The alliance is for a two-year term.
“We are pleased to work together with Fehr’s Metal Building Construction to prevent those hazards, such as falls, that most commonly found in the construction industry,” said Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith and community-based organizations, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. For information about forming an alliance or partnership, contact OSHA’s Lubbock Area Office at 806-472-7681.
Electro-Spec Achieves INSHARP Certification
Electro-Spec, Incorporated, located in Franklin, Indiana, achieved certification as an Indiana Safety and Health Recognition Program (INSHARP) site. INSHARP sites are leaders in workplace safety and health and are recognized for their success in proactively protecting Hoosier workers.
Electro-Spec, Inc., has been in business at its location in Franklin for 57 years. The company employs approximately 82 onsite workers. Services provided by Electro-Spec include gold, silver, nickel, copper, and tri-alloy electroplating for aerospace, medical, telecommunications, automotive, and batteries. The site also provides passivation and heat treating services.
“Electro-Spec, Inc., is a shining example of how efficiency in workplace safety and health is achievable,” said Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “Our staff looks forward to continuing to work with management and employees of the Franklin company.”
Management at Electro-Spec, Inc., demonstrated commitment to maintained workplace safety and health programs. A safety committee consisting mostly of employees helps maintain all safety programs and conducts regular inspections of the facility. Thanks to the efforts of both management and employees, the site has worksite injury and illness rates well below the national industry averages, recordable cases, and “days missed” cases.