As part of an ongoing effort to revise provisions in its standards that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary, OSHA is proposing to revise it’s recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction standards, which are summarized below
Reporting Job-Related Hearing Loss
OSHA recordkeeping regulations require employers to record and report occupational injuries and illnesses. The proposed revision codifies current enforcement policy and clarifies that a determination whether an employee's hearing loss is "work-related" must be made using specific, clear criteria, which are also set out in OSHA regulations.
Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)
The proposed revision clarifies employers' duties under the lockout/tagout standard. The existing general industry standard requires protections against the "unexpected energization" of machinery during servicing. The proposed revision to remove the term "unexpected" reflects OSHA's original intent and eliminates confusion regarding applicability of the standard.
Chest X-Ray (CXR) Requirements
The proposed revision removes the requirement for periodic CXR in the standards for inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and acrylonitrile to make OSHA's requirement consistent with current medical practices and reduce employer burden and paperwork.
The proposed revision permits storage of x-rays in digital formats. OSHA adopted the existing requirement for storage of x-ray film before the existence of digital x-ray and storage technology.
The proposed revisions update the lung-function testing (spirometry) requirements for the cotton dust standard to make them consistent with current medical practices and technology.
Existing requirements in the sanitation standard for Shipyard Employment specify that employers must maintain workplaces in a manner that prevents vermin infestation. OSHA recognizes that feral cats pose a minor, if any, threat, and tend to avoid human contact, and OSHA proposes to remove the term "feral cats" from the definition of vermin in the standard.
911 Emergency Services at Worksites
Existing construction regulations require employers to conspicuously post telephone numbers for ambulances, etc. at worksites located in areas where 911 emergency dispatch services are not available. The proposed revision updates this requirement to reflect the predominance of the use of cellular telephones at construction sites and the widespread adoption of 911 emergency dispatch services. The proposed revision requires the posting of location information at worksites in areas that do not have Enhanced 911 (which automatically supplies the caller's location information to the dispatcher).
Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)
The proposed revisions to the construction PELs requirements are corrections and clarifications to make this standard consistent with other OSHA PELs standards.
Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
To avoid unnecessary duplication, OSHA proposes to replace the entire thirty-one pages of regulatory text for the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM) Standard for construction with a cross reference to the identical general industry standard.
Personal Protective Equipment
Ensuring that personal protective equipment (PPE) properly fits each employee is essential to employees' protection. The proposed revision to require employers to select PPE that properly fits each employee clarifies the construction PPE requirements and makes them consistent with general industry requirements.
Lanyard/lifeline Break Strength
The proposed revision standardizes break-strength requirements for lanyards and lifelines throughout the construction and general industry standards.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
The proposed revisions update and clarify the provisions related to traffic signs and devices, flaggers, and barricades to align with current DOT requirements. This removes the burden on construction employers, who have sought this change, to follow multiple sets of regulations for OSHA, DOT, and state and local governments.
Load Limit Postings
The proposed revision exempts single family dwellings from a requirement to post maximum safe-load limits for floors in buildings under construction, reducing a burden for residential builders. The existing OSHA standard requires posting in residential dwellings where safe-load limits are rarely, if ever, an issue, thus eliminating a paperwork burden for construction employers.
The proposed revision clarifies employers' duties in the excavation standard. The proposed revision clarifies that a hazard is presumed to exist when loose rock or soil and excavated material or equipment is beside a trench.
MSHA Underground Construction – Diesel Engines
Existing regulatory language requires that mobile diesel-powered equipment used underground comply with outdated Mine Safety Health Administration's (MSHA) provisions. The proposed revision updates the regulatory language to cross-reference to the revised MSHA provisions.
The proposed revision replaces outdated decompression tables used to protect employees working in pressurized underground construction sites. The proposal allows employers to use the modern French decompression tables.
Rollover Protective Structures
The proposed revision replaces the outdated construction standard with references to the appropriate consensus standards.
Regulation of coke oven emissions in construction
The proposed revision removes the regulation of coke oven emissions provisions from the construction standards. Any work during operation of coke ovens is general industry work, and the standard does not fit construction work.
Collection of Social Security Numbers
The proposed revision comprehensively removes from general industry, construction, and maritime standards all requirements to include an employee's social security number on exposure monitoring, medical surveillance, and other records in order to protect employee privacy and prevent identity fraud.
"The changes we propose will modernize OSHA standards, help employers better understand their responsibilities, increase compliance and reduce compliance costs," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Most importantly, these revisions will improve the safety and health protections afforded to workers across all industries."
OSHA estimates that the revisions could save employers an estimated $3.2 million per year. They are based on responses to a public Request for Information issued in 2012 as well as recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA staff, and the Office of Management and Budget.
You can submit comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments also may be submitted by fax or mail. See the Federal Register notice for details. Comments must be submitted by December 5, 2016.
This is the fourth rule proposed under OSHA's Standards Improvement Project, which began in 1995 in response to a Presidential memorandum to improve government regulations. Other improvements to standards were issued in 1998, 2005, and 2011.
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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 webcasts on How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) on November 15.
OSHA Proposes Two Additional Fit-Testing Protocols
OSHA recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency's Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries.
Appendix A of the standard contains mandatory respirator fit-testing methods that employers must use to ensure their employees' respirators fit properly and protect the wearer. The standard also allows individuals to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators.
The existing standard contains mandatory testing methods to ensure that employees' respirators fit properly and are protective. The standard also states that additional fit-test protocols may be submitted for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence.
The agency invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace. More specific issues for public comment are listed in the Federal Register notice.
You may submit comments electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile; see the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments is December 6, 2016.
This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees. The proposed rule would not require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards. The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.
OSHA Proposes to Revise Respirator Fit Testing Requirements
OSHA is proposing to add two modified PortaCount? quantitative fit-testing protocols to its Respiratory Protection Standard. The proposed protocols would apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry. Both proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount? protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence. If approved, the modified PortaCount? protocols would be alternatives to the existing quantitative fit-testing protocols already listed in an appendix of the Respiratory Protection Standard. In addition, OSHA is proposing to amend an appendix to clarify that PortaCount? fit test devices equipped with the N95-CompanionTM Technology are covered by the approved PortaCount? protocols.
DOT Issues Interim Final Rule To Implement Expanded Authority to Issue Emergency Orders, Improve Pipeline Safety
The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) to implement the agency’s expanded authority to address unsafe pipeline conditions or practices that pose an imminent hazard to life, property, or the environment. The regulations adopt a provision of the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act), that allows the agency to impose emergency restrictions, prohibitions, and safety measures on owners and operators of gas or hazardous liquid pipeline facilities to address safety concerns affecting multiple owners or operators.
“Pipeline incidents can have devastating impacts on local communities and the environment,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The new regulations carry out DOT’s enhanced authority to compel industry to take immediate action to address problems that put people, property, or the environment at risk. We hope we never have to use it, but it is an important safety tool that will result in greater protection for the American public.”
Examples of when PHMSA may need to use this enhanced authority include instances where a serious manufacturing flaw has been discovered in pipe, equipment or other materials, or when an accident reveals a specific industry practice that is unsafe and needs immediate correction.
“We fully recognize the critical role that pipelines play in our everyday lives – they deliver important resources, and support our economy and way of life,” said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez. “Pipelines also operate in close proximity to people, homes, businesses, and sensitive environmental areas. This new authority gives PHMSA the ability to act quickly to address urgent safety concerns, and to protect people and the environment.”
The IFR is effective once posted to the Federal Register, and comments must be received within 60 days of publication.
Workplace Deaths Increase 28 Percent Since 2013 in Illinois
Thirty-six Illinois workers have died on the job since January 1, 2016. An average of one life lost each week in the Prairie State.
The tragedies that befell two men are sobering reminders of preventable workplace dangers:
- A 47-year-old laborer was trimming trees from an aerial lift approximately 50 feet off the ground in January 2016 when a tree limb struck the lift's bucket and ejected the worker. He died as a result of injuries in the fall. OSHA cited his employer for failing to ensure use of a harness by the worker, require hard hats and not reporting the fatality within 8 hours of the event.
- A 36-year old-truck driver securing a load on a flatbed truck died after a powered industrial vehicle struck him in February 2016. OSHA cited his employer for failing to provide training and evaluation and failing to require the use of wheel blocks/chocks when parking PIVs on an incline.
To save lives, OSHA is calling on all Illinois employers to review their safety and health programs and procedures carefully.
"These injuries, illness and workplace deaths that are occurring in Illinois are preventable," said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA's regional director in Chicago. "Employers must develop good safety and health programs to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. These programs should include management leadership, worker participation and hazard identification. Properly employed, a culture of safety can be created in any workplace."
To reduce risk of job related illness, injuries and fatalities OSHA recommends that employers worker with their employees to:
- Evaluate for workplace hazards
- Ensure machinery, tools, and work areas are in good working order
- Develop procedures to eliminate hazards
- Provide personal protective equipment to employers and enforce its use
- Train employees on safe operating procedures and retrain frequently
- Encourage employees to report workplace hazards
Since January 1, 2015, employers have been required to report any severe work-related injury—defined as a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye—to OSHA within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within 8 hours remains in force. In the first full year of the new requirement, employers nationwide reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations.
Nationwide, from January 1 to August 30, 2016, OSHA initiated 2,709 workplace inspections in response to employer reported referrals. These included 2,052 employer reported hospitalizations of workers and 972 reports of amputation injuries sustained by workers.
The image features a table titled "Illinois Fatalities by Industry - CY2013-2015". For Construction, the fatalities are 13 for 2013, 16 for 2014, and 29 for 2015. For Manufacturing, the fatalities are 12 for 2013, 10 for 2014, and 8 for 2015. For Other, the fatalities are 17 for 2013, 16 for 2014, and 22 for 2015.
In Illinois, from January 1 to August 30, 2016, the agency initiated 636 workplace inspections in response to employer reported referrals. These included 425 employer reported hospitalizations of workers and 284 reports of amputation injuries sustained by workers.
"Prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers to develop safer workplaces," Atha said. "When employers, workers, unions and OSHA professionals work together we can ensure better working conditions and safety training for all Illinois and prevent debilitating injuries, illness and death that cost our economy and families untold sums."
OSHA also offers compliance assistance, tips, free consultation for small and medium size businesses, educational materials, training and other information to employers and workers on common workplace safety hazards and how to prevent illness and injury.
"We want to make sure that no Illinois business, no matter how small, fails to protect its workers because it can't afford good safety information or can't understand how to comply with safety and health standards," Atha said. "Compliance help is only a phone call away and by working together with businesses, unions, and employees we can reduce these sobering statics and prevent workplaces injuries and deaths."
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or one of the five federal offices in Illinois including: Aurora at (630) 896-8700, Calumet City at (708) 891-3800, Chicago North in Des Plaines at (847) 803-4800, Fairview Heights at (618) 632-8612 and Peoria at (309) 589-7033.
The free Illinois On-site Consultation Program phone number is (800) 972-4216. On-site Consultation Program information is available at OSHA's Web site.
Stanford Scientists Create Fabric that Cools the Body
Stanford engineers have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile that, if woven into clothing, could cool your body far more efficiently than is possible with the natural or synthetic fabrics in clothes we wear.
Describing their work in Science, the researchers suggest that this new family of fabrics could become the basis for garments that keep people cool in hot climates without air conditioning.
“If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy,” said Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
This new material works by allowing the body to discharge heat in two ways that would make the wearer feel nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than if they wore cotton clothing. The material cools by letting perspiration evaporate through the material, something ordinary fabrics already do. But the Stanford material provides a second, revolutionary cooling mechanism: allowing heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile.
All objects, including our bodies, throw off heat in the form of infrared radiation, an invisible and benign wavelength of light. Blankets warm us by trapping infrared heat emissions close to the body. This thermal radiation escaping from our bodies is what makes us visible in the dark through night-vision goggles.
“Forty to 60 percent of our body heat is dissipated as infrared radiation when we are sitting in an office,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering who specializes in photonics, which is the study of visible and invisible light. “But until now there has been little or no research on designing the thermal radiation characteristics of textiles.”
To develop their cooling textile, the Stanford researchers blended nanotechnology, photonics and chemistry to give polyethylene—the clear, clingy plastic we use as kitchen wrap—a number of characteristics desirable in clothing material: it allows thermal radiation, air, and water vapor to pass right through, and it is opaque to visible light.
The easiest attribute was allowing infrared radiation to pass through the material, because this is a characteristic of ordinary polyethylene food wrap. Of course, kitchen plastic is impervious to water and is see-through as well, rendering it useless as clothing.
The Stanford researchers tackled these deficiencies one at a time. First, they found a variant of polyethylene commonly used in battery making that has a specific nanostructure that is opaque to visible light yet is transparent to infrared radiation, which could let body heat escape. This provided a base material that was opaque to visible light for the sake of modesty but thermally transparent for purposes of energy efficiency.
They then modified the industrial polyethylene by treating it with benign chemicals to enable water vapor molecules to evaporate through nanopores in the plastic, said postdoctoral scholar and team member Po-Chun Hsu, allowing the plastic to breathe like a natural fiber.
That success gave the researchers a single-sheet material that met their three basic criteria for a cooling fabric. To make this thin material more fabric-like, they created a three-ply version: two sheets of treated polyethylene separated by a cotton mesh for strength and thickness.
To test the cooling potential of their three-ply construct versus a cotton fabric of comparable thickness, they placed a small swatch of each material on a surface that was as warm as bare skin and measured how much heat each material trapped.
“Wearing anything traps some heat and makes the skin warmer,” Fan said. “If dissipating thermal radiation were our only concern, then it would be best to wear nothing.”
The comparison showed that the cotton fabric made the skin surface 3.6?F warmer than their cooling textile. The researchers said this difference means that a person dressed in their new material might feel less inclined to turn on a fan or air conditioner.
The researchers are continuing their work on several fronts, including adding more colors, textures and cloth-like characteristics to their material. Adapting a material already mass produced for the battery industry could make it easier to create products.
“If you want to make a textile, you have to be able to make huge volumes inexpensively,” Cui said.
Fan believes that this research opens up new avenues of inquiry to cool or heat things, passively, without the use of outside energy, by tuning materials to dissipate or trap infrared radiation. “In hindsight, some of what we’ve done looks very simple, but it’s because few have really been looking at engineering the radiation characteristics of textiles,” he said.
Columbia Recycling Corp. Fined $317,814 for Continually Exposing Workers to Hazards
OSHA issued citations to Columbia Recycling Corp., of Dalton, Georgia, for five repeated, three serious, and one other-than-serious safety and health violations. Acting on a complaint, the agency initiated the inspection on April 26, 2016.
OSHA issued the repeated citations for the employer's failure to:
- Administer an effective hearing conservation program
- Ensure nameplates were maintained in a legible condition
- Protect petroleum gas storage tanks with crash rails or guards
- Store and handle liquefied petroleum properly
- Outline clear and specific energy control procedures for shutting down and securing machines and equipment
The serious citations relate to:
- Improper storage of compressed gas cylinders
- Not ensuring an employee successfully completed training to operate a powered industrial truck
- Not allowing sufficient access and working space around electrical equipment
One other violation was cited for failure to report a work-related amputation within the required 24 hours.
Proposed penalties total $317,814.
"The issuance of repeated citations is a clear indication that Columbia Recycling continues to ignore OSHA's safety standards and lacks concern to protect workers at this facility," said Christi Griffin, OSHA's director of the Atlanta-West Office. "Employers need to be proactive and should not wait for an OSHA inspection to assess and correct workplace safety hazards."
Station Builders Inc. Fined $291,997 for Failing to Provide Fall Protection
OSHA issued three willful, four repeat, and six serious safety citations on September 23, 2016, to Station Builders, Inc., a construction contractor.
Two inspections in Easton, Pennsylvania—one initiated on April 8, 2016, and the other on May 25, 2016—and one inspection in Allentown initiated on June 9, 2016, were in response to OSHA compliance officers observing Station Builder employees in imminent danger conditions. The inspections were also initiated as part of OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program on Fall Hazards in the Construction Industry.
The Bethlehem inspection began June 22, 2016, under OSHA's Construction Targeting Program.
The company did not provide fall protection at all four worksites and received the willful citations.
The repeat citations involved the employer's failure to provide personal protective equipment, improper use of portable ladders at the worksites, and conduct frequent and regular worksite inspections.
OSHA issued the serious citations for lack of fall protection and personal protective equipment, and improper use of portable ladders.
"Since November 2015, OSHA offices in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have inspected Station Builders' work sites and issued citations 16 times. In each case, the violations included preventable hazards related to lack of fall protection," said Jean Kulp, director of OSHA's Allentown Area Office. "The company can easily eliminate the hazards by using readily available and reusable personal protective equipment, or by making simple modifications to its work practices, yet it continues to expose workers to dangerous conditions. This will not be tolerated by OSHA."
Proposed penalties total $291,997.
Frame Q Fined $222,697 for Exposing Workers to 20-Foot Falls
OSHA's inspection began on April 23, 2016, after an OSHA compliance officer observed Frame Q employees performing residential construction framing activities without fall protection. The inspection was also part of the agency's Local Emphasis Program on Falls.
The violations involved the company's failure to provide workers with fall and eye protection. OSHA cited the framing contractor for the same hazards in March 2014 at a work site in nearby Englewood Cliffs.
"Frame Q continues to jeopardize the safety of its employees by not providing basic safety equipment that saves lives," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. "Falls are the number one killer of workers in the construction industry. By not complying with OSHA safety standards, this company is not upholding its legal responsibility to provide employees with a safe workplace, which is unacceptable."
Proposed penalties total $222,697.
Machine Hazards at Allstate Can Corp. Lead to Amputations
OSHA's inspection began on March 24, 2016, after investigators noted noise hazards during an inspection. They found that the company failed to institute a hearing conservation program, and failed to provide annual hearing tests for all employees exposed to excessive noise. Allstate Can neglected to retrain workers who suffered hearing loss, and did not refit them with hearing protection or refer workers for a medical examination. The agency also found the company exposed employees to high noise levels in the production area.
"Twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Exposure to sustained loud noise kills the inner ear's nerve endings, and leads to permanent hearing loss that neither surgery nor medicine can correct," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "Despite knowing the requirement for annual hearing tests, Allstate Can failed to take the proper steps to protect workers from hearing loss, which is unacceptable."
Proposed penalties total $104,220.
Mavis Tire Exposed Workers to Hazardous Chemicals, Compressed Gas, and Falls
On September 29, 2016, OSHA issued citations to Mavis Tire Supply Corp., dba Mavis Discount Tires, for one repeat and 7 serious and health and safety violations.
Acting on an employee allegation that Mavis Tire was exposing workers to safety and health hazards related to water leaking into the workplace's basement, OSHA contacted the store by phone and fax. The employer failed to respond properly, and the agency initiated a health and safety inspection on March 30, 2016. Once completed, OSHA inspectors issued a repeat citation for obstructed exit routes, a violation for which the agency cited Mavis previously in May 2015.
OSHA also identified serious violations, and cited for:
- Lack of exit signs
- Failure to properly store compressed gas cylinders
- Not providing guardrails on an open-sided platform 9 feet above ground level
- Failure to train workers on chemical safety hazards, and to provide Safety Data Sheets when requested
"The hazards cited at Mavis Tire's Westfield location pose serious safety and health dangers to employees. Improperly stored gas cylinders can leak or explode, unmarked exits can lead to disaster during an emergency and missing guardrails on raised platforms creates the potential for dangerous falls," said Patricia Jones, director of OSHA's Avenel Area Office. "This employer needs to address these issues and the other OSHA violations our inspectors found before someone is hurt or killed."
Proposed penalties total $103,331.
The Roofing Guys Inc. Repeatedly Exposed Workers to Falls
A Syracuse, New York, roofing contractor with a history of safety violations has again exposed its employees to potentially fatal fall hazards at one of its worksites, this time in Camillus.
Inspectors from the Syracuse Area Office of OSHA found employees of The Roofing Guys, Inc., exposed to falls of up to 20 feet as they worked without fall protection atop a residential roof at 100 Gulf Rd. They also found the employer allowed an additional fall hazard created by a roof access ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet above the roof's edge for required stability.
OSHA had previously cited the company between 2011 and 2015 for similar hazards at other roofing jobs in Liverpool, Marcellus, Syracuse, and North Syracuse.
"This pattern of non-compliance is disturbing. This employer knows that effective fall protection is not just a necessity, it's required by law. Workers are just one slip, trip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling fall each time fall protection is absent or inadequate. The Roofing Guys needs to take ongoing and effective action to ensure that all its employees are safeguarded at all its worksites," said Jeffrey Prebish, OSHA's acting area director in Syracuse.
As a result of this latest inspection, OSHA cited The Roofing Guys Inc. for two repeat violations of workplace safety standards. Proposed penalties for these violations total $96,027. The citations can be viewed here.
"Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. These deaths can be prevented if employers plan ahead to do the job safely and provide their employees with proper training and safety equipment. Employers who needlessly and repeatedly fail to do so are gambling with their workers' lives and well-being," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
The company's latest violations led OSHA to place The Roofing Guys Inc. in the agency's Severe Violators Enforcement Program. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
Earth Inc. Ignored Trench Dangers, Fined $93,532
Earth, Inc., an Arpin, Wisconsin, contractor faces penalties of $93,532 after federal inspectors found the company risked the lives of at least two of its employees as they installed underground water, sanitary and storm sewer utilities in an unprotected 9-foot deep trench at the Stevens Point Sixth Avenue Reconstruction Project.
Inspectors with OSHA saw two workers employed by Earth, Inc., in a trench without required protection. Cave-in protection prevents trench walls from collapsing and potentially burying the workers in thousands of pounds of soil and rock. Trench collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the construction industry.
OSHA cited Earth Inc. for allowing its employees to work in the trench without cave-in protection and a means to exit the trench quickly in a collapse. In addition, inspectors determined a competent person was aware of the hazardous conditions but still allowed the worker to enter the trench.
"Each year, dozens of workers die and hundreds suffer injury needlessly while working in trenches. Ground soil gives no warning prior to giving away, and a collapse can bury workers in just seconds," said Robert Bonack, OSHA's area director in Appleton. "One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a small automobile making it almost impossible to avoid tragedy. Inspection, use of protective systems and proper training can be the difference between life and death."
OSHA's trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and that soil and other materials remain at least two feet from the edge of trench.
Aluminum Shapes LLC Repeatedly Exposed Workers to Machine Hazards
OSHA's inspection began on April 27, 2016, after the company reported a worker had suffered an amputation, and as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program on Amputations.
Inspectors determined that an employee suffered a fingertip amputation while feeding aluminum pieces into a roll-forming machine. While OSHA's inspection was ongoing, two additional incidents occurred; the first resulted in an employee's thumb injury and the other resulted in a worker suffering a fingertip amputation.
OSHA issued repeat citations to the company for a lack of machine guarding, as well as for its failure to report the amputation within the required time frame. The agency cited the employer for the same violations in May 2012 and March 2016.
"In 2015, our investigation found 44 safety violations at Aluminum Shapes' facility including amputation hazards related to the lack of machine guarding. This employer has taken no action to protect its workers and serious and senseless injuries are the result. This is unacceptable," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton Area Office. "Employers have a legal responsibility to provide employees with a safe and healthful work environment, and we intend to hold companies accountable when they fail to meet their obligations."
Proposed penalties total $89,390.
Hard Rock Construction Failure to Protect Workers from Trench Collapse Leads to Fatalities
A Boise excavation contractor could have prevented the deaths of two workers and serious injuries suffered by a third after a trench collapse if the company had not allowed federal safety standards to be ignored at a Northwest Boise work site in May.
OSHA inspectors responded to the scene after the Boise Police Department alerted them that a trench between 9- and 11-feet deep had caved-in and buried three workers employed by Hard Rock Construction, Inc. The collapse killed the crew's foreman and another worker, and hospitalized the third laborer with serious injuries. The men were doing underground utility work for the Meridian-based contractor when the incident occurred May 3, 2016, on Gary Lane.
Each year, dozens of workers die and hundreds suffer injury when trench walls collapse and bury them in soil and rock—sometimes weighing several thousand pounds. In fact, one cubic yard of soil can be equal to the weight of a small automobile, about 3,000 pounds. Excavation cave-ins are among the most common causes of fatalities in the construction industry.
OSHA inspectors found Hard Rock failed to provide cave-in protection systems or a ladder to enter or exit the trench, did not have a competent person conducting inspections and failed to train its employees on the hazards and dangers in working in trenches. The agency issued three serious citations and one willful citation, and assessed penalties of $77,319 to the company.
"The tragic loss of these men's lives and serious injuries suffered by their co-worker were preventable -which makes this incident even more tragic," said David Kearns, area director of OSHA's Boise office. "Our investigation found Hard Rock Construction made almost no effort to protect its workers, or even to understand the right ways to avoid the common hazards in this line of work. Hiring workers and assuming they know how to protect themselves is a sure path to tragedy."
US Postal Service Cited After Two Des Moines Workers Suffer Heat Illness
Feeling the symptoms of heat-related illness, a 24-year-old U.S. Postal Service mail carrier asked her supervisor to be relieved after walking about half-way through her 11-mile delivery route on a hot June day in Des Moines when temperatures exceeded 93 degrees. Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration later learned the woman's supervisor told her initially to continue walking her route despite feeling ill.
The carrier working at the U.S. Postal Service's University Station location subsequently missed three days of work recovering from her illness.
In its investigation of the reported illness on June 9, 2016, the department learned that a co-worker—a 47-year-old female carrier—needed transport to a hospital emergency room with heat-related illness on July 21, 2016, when the heat index reached more than 111 degrees. She had walked about five miles in the heat that day.
On September 30, 2016, OSHA issued the post office one repeated citation under the agency's general duty clause for exposing workers to excessive heat and proposed penalties of $68,591. In 2012, the agency cited the USPS after the heat-related death of a mail carrier in Independence, Missouri in July 2012. Since January 2016, OSHA has investigated 16 heat-related deaths reported to the agency.
"Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable when employers help workers acclimate to hot environments, allow frequent water breaks, ample time to rest and provide shade," said Larry Davidson, OSHA's area director in Des Moines. "Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Employers must keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions."
The agency has found a lack of heat prevention and acclimatization programs by employers commonly lead to heat-related deaths and illness among workers.
In addition to acclimating workers to heat conditions OSHA also recommends employers:
- Train supervisors and other employees in the proper response to employees reporting heat-induced illness symptoms, which includes stopping work, moving to a cool place, and providing help, evaluation and medical assistance
- Require trained supervisors to go into the field and conduct in-person evaluations of employees complaining of heat-induced symptoms
- Establish work rules and practices that encourage employees to seek assistance and evaluation when experiencing heat stress symptoms
Commonly and mistakenly, people believe that if they are sweating, they are not in danger of heat stroke. In fact, sweating is no indication that heat stroke is possible. One frequent symptom of heat stroke is mental changes, such as confusion or irritability. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If there is any suggestion of heat stroke, call 911 and institute the other safety measures as quickly as possible. To learn more about heat-stress symptoms see OSHA's Heat Stress Quick Card.
OSHA's Heat Safety Tool App is available to employers, employees, and the public for free download on iPhones and Android phones.
Iowa Postal Facility Exposes Workers to Mold, Electrical Hazards from Unrepaired Water Leak
OSHA’s Des Moines Area Office cited the U.S. postal service facility for one repeated and four serious safety violations.
The citations follow an October 2015 OSHA investigation of a complaint alleging visible mold in the vestibule area of the postal facility. An investigation found workers exposed to slips, electrical hazards and respiratory illness because water was leaking into the facility causing the mold to form and also dripping onto the electrical panel.
"Employers must make visual assessment of their facilities on a routine basis and promptly repair maintenance issues that can cause an illness, slips, falls, and other injuries," said Larry Davidson, OSHA's area director in Des Moines.
Proposed penalties total $63,500.