OSHA Updates Practices to Encourage Workplace Safety and Health Programs

October 24, 2016

OSHA recently released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety and health in their workplaces.

The recommendations update OSHA's 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The recommendations feature a new, easier-to-use format and should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses. Also new is a section on multi-employer workplaces and a greater emphasis on continuous improvement. Supporting tools and resources are included.

The programs are not prescriptive; they are built around a core set of business processes that can be implemented to suit a particular workplace in any industry. OSHA has seen them successfully implemented in manufacturing, construction, health care, technology, retail, services, higher education, and government.

Key principles include: leadership from the top to send a message that safety and health is critical to the business operations; worker participation in finding solutions; and a systematic approach to find and fix hazards.

"Since OSHA's original guidelines were published more than 25 years ago, employers and employees have gained a lot of experience in how to use safety and health programs to systematically prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "We know that working together to implement these programs will help prevent injuries and illnesses, and also make businesses more sustainable."

The OSHA recommendations include seven core elements for a safety and health program: management leadership; worker participation; hazard identification and assessment; hazard prevention and control; education and training; program evaluation and improvement; and communication and coordination for host employers, contractors and staffing agencies.

Dr. Michaels released the new document at the National Safety Council Congress in Anaheim, California. In his remarks, he asked business groups and safety and health professionals to help spread the word through a campaign that encourages creation of a safety and health program using OSHA or other program recommendations that may be more appropriate to their businesses.

The recommendations are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

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Williamsburg RCRA and DOT Training

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How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)

When OSHA aligned the Hazard Communication Standard with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals, the agency required virtually every product label, safety data sheet (formerly called “material safety data sheet” or MSDS), and written hazard communication plan to 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 Delays Enforcement of Anti-Retaliation Provisions of Injury and Illness Tracking Rule Until December 1

OSHA has agreed to further delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its injury and illness tracking rule until December 1, 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requested the delay to allow additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.

The anti-retaliation provisions were originally scheduled to begin August 10, 2016, but were previously delayed until November 10 to allow time for outreach to the regulated community.

Under the rule, employers are required to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and incorporate the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.

Pentachlorophenol Listed as Carcinogen

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added pentachlorophenol and by-products of its synthesis (complex mixture) to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65.

The listing of pentachlorophenol and by-products of its synthesis (complex mixture) is based on formal identification by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an authoritative body, that the chemical causes cancer. The criteria used by OEHHA for the listing of chemicals under the “authoritative bodies” mechanism can be found in Title 27, Cal. Code of Regs., section 25306.

The documentation supporting OEHHA’s determination that the criteria for administrative listing have been satisfied for pentachlorophenol and by-products of its synthesis (complex mixture) is included in the “Notice of Intent to List Pentachlorophenol and By-Products of its Synthesis (Complex Mixture)” posted on OEHHA’s website and published in the October 30, 2015 issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2015, No. 44-Z). The publication of the notice initiated a public comment period that closed on November 30, 2015. OEHHA received three public comments on pentachlorophenol and by-products of its synthesis (complex mixture). The comments and OEHHA’s responses are posted with the Notice of Intent to List.

The chemical pentachlorophenol has been listed under Proposition 65 as known to cause cancer since January 1, 1990. This listing pertains to the complex mixture containing both pentachlorophenol and one or more compounds formed as by-products of pentachlorophenol synthesis.

A complete, updated chemical list is published in this issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register and is available on the OEHHA website at http://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list.

Free Workplace Lead Resources for Prevention Week

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 23–29, 2016. Elevated blood lead levels in adults are mostly due to workplace exposure. The California Department of Public Health is highlighting free lead poisoning prevention resources for a variety of audiences. Resources include an online continuing medical education (CME) course for healthcare providers; training courses for construction workers; and resources for employers and workers.

Colorado Health Department Offers Resources to Help Prevent Lead Poisoning

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends all low-income children in Colorado be tested for lead at 12 months and 24 months of age. Colorado’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program identifies approximately 200 children per year with confirmed elevated blood lead levels.

“Lead-Free for a Healthy Future,” the theme for Lead Poisoning Prevention Week October 23–29, underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. Following the department’s lead screening guidelines will help ensure children at risk can receive treatment. Visit http://www.colorado.gov/cdphe/leadhealth for more information about blood testing for lead.

There is no safe level of lead in the body. Lead is especially dangerous to children because it may affect the normal development of a child’s brain. Elevated blood lead levels may result in intelligence quotient (IQ) loss, learning and behavior problems, developmental delays, and lifelong mental and physical health issues.

Lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, and any house built before 1979 might contain some lead-based paint. Approximately 48% of the housing units in Colorado were built before 1980. Major sources of lead exposure include not just the lead paint, but lead-contaminated dust from deteriorating building surfaces caused by renovation activities or even normal wear and tear, such as opening and closing windows and doors that were painted with lead-based paint.

Additional sources of lead exposure include contaminated drinking water; take-home exposure from a workplace; soil contaminated by paint chips, auto emissions, and other industrial sources; lead in-home remedies; and lead in consumer products and food.

To increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the department is sponsoring the following activities during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2016:

  • Paint-can stir sticks with lead awareness messaging, available at hardware stores throughout Colorado, or available by request at cdphe.lead@state.co.us.
  • 3M Leadcheck kits are available to check for lead paint in homes built before 1979. Find information on how to request a kit at http://www.colorado.gov/cdphe/leadpaint.
  • The department is sponsoring a Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Tote Bag Design Contest. Visit http://www.facebook.com/cdphe.apcd to enter.
  • Tote bags with lead awareness messaging, including the winning design from the 2015 design contest, will be available throughout Colorado.

Contact cdphe.lead@state.co.us or 303-692-3150 with questions or requests for outreach items.

Monster Tree Service’s Failure to Follow Safety Measures Led to Fatal Electrocution

Had proper precautions been taken, a 34-year-old tree trimmer would not have been fatally electrocuted when an aluminum pole saw made contact with overhead power lines, an investigation by OSHA has found.

Anthony Robert Donahue was strapped to a tree approximately 18 feet in the air and working at a private residence on Bay View Drive in Fort Lauderdale on April 25, 2016, when the incident occurred.

After its investigation, OSHA issued citations to Ray Carolan Services, Inc., doing business as Monster Tree Service, for one willful, one serious and one other-than-serious safety violation.

"This tragedy was preventable had Monster Tree Service taken the necessary steps to ensure the worker was protected while working around overhead power lines," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "We've seen an unfortunate rise of similar incidents in the tree trimming industry recently due to employers not following OSHA standards. Ignoring safety standards near energized power lines gambles with worker's lives."

OSHA issued a willful citation to the employer for allowing workers to use an aluminum pole saw near power lines that were approximately 8 feet away. OSHA requires workers be at least 10 feet away from power lines when performing such work.

The serious violation involves exposing employees to multiple fractures or amputation hazards while using a stump grinder that had unguarded belts and pulleys. The other violation relates to exposing workers to hazards associated with chemicals and not implementing a hazard communications program.

Proposed penalties total $133,617.

Safety Failures at Hankins Lumber Co. Led to Worker’s Death

An employer that fails to follow safety standards leaves workers like Charlie Cummins, Jr. to suffer the consequences.

On May 4, 2016, the saw operator with more than 20 years with Hankins Lumber Co., was attempting to adjust a pin stuck in the up position on an infeed table of a gang saw. Suddenly, unguarded sprocket on a rotating shaft entangled his clothes, leaving him pinned against the equipment and unable to breathe fully. Cummins then lost consciousness. Taken to a local hospital after others freed him, the 56-year-old man later died of his injuries

The OSHA investigated and found his employer failed to ensure proper machine guards and emergency shut-off procedures were in place. The agency issued 12 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to Hankins Lumber.

"Had Hankins Lumber met its responsibilities to protect its workers, Charlie Cummins would not have died needlessly," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in the Jackson Office. "Every employer must ensure equipment is guarded and safety procedures are operational in the event of an emergency."

OSHA issued the serious citations to the employer for its failure to:

  • Utilize safety procedures to turn off equipment in an emergency
  • Close unused openings in electrical cabinets
  • Provide machine guarding on shafts, pulleys, and belts
  • Provide confined space training
  • Provide standard railings on open sided floors and platforms
  • Provide a safety latch on the hoist hook

Other violations include no hazard assessment certification, not posting confined space signs by the boiler and failing to have a written hazard communication program.

OSHA has proposed $80,937 in penalties.

Panama City Framing Fined $359,878 for Lack of Fall Protection

Inspectors with OSHA observed employees of Panama City Framing unprotected from falls as they installed truss framing at a residence in a Cedar Park subdivision. OSHA cited the company with two willful and two repeated safety violations. This inspection fell under OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction.

OSHA issued the willful citations for the employer's failure to protect workers with a fall protection system when working at heights up to 22 feet, and for not having a roof access ladder for employees to access the roof trusses. Federal standards require the use of a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest systems when workers are working at heights of 6 feet or more above a lower level.

The agency cited the company for repeated violations for allowing workers to use powered nail guns without eye protection and failing to ensure employees were wearing head protection. OSHA cited the employer for the same violations in October 2015 at a work site in Panama City.

OSHA has cited the employer previously four times since 2012 for willful, repeat, and serious violations for a lack of fall, eye, and head protection.

Proposed penalties total $359,878.

"Panama City Framing's management has been performing residential framing for nearly 20 years and is aware of OSHA's fall protections standards, yet routinely exposes their employees to a primary cause of death in the construction industry," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville.

Workers Exposed to Carbon Monoxide, Asbestos at Nursing Home Renovation

After five employees became ill from carbon monoxide exposure as they renovated a New Glarus nursing home, federal safety inspectors responding to the scene found their employer also exposed the workers to asbestos hazards.

OSHA inspectors determined A&A Environmental Services, Inc., failed to monitor carbon monoxide exposure for workers inside an asbestos containment area, and violated required procedures for safe handling of the dangerous known carcinogen. A local hospital later treated the five employees sickened by the gas exposure on April 19, 2016.

On October 19, 2016, OSHA issued four willful and nine serious health violations to the Poynette-based company. A&A faces proposed fines of $243,716. The agency found workers' exposure exceeded 50 parts per million over an eight hour time-weighted average and that the company failed to implement engineering controls to reduce employee exposure.

"A company like A&A Environmental Services that specializes in asbestos abatement should be setting the standard in employee protection while handling known carcinogenic material," said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA's area director in Madison. "No worker should ever become sick on the job or suffer long-term health issues because their employer failed to take the necessary precautions to protect them."

Asbestos exposure occurs when workers cut, sand, remove, and/or disturb asbestos containing materials, releasing asbestos fibers that can be inhaled without proper protection. Asbestos can cause lung disease and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung or stomach that is often fatal. Asbestos fibers also remain on clothing and transfer to other surfaces such as upholstery and carpets, creating a danger of secondary exposure for others.

In its citations, OSHA alleges that A&A Environmental failed to:

  • Provide a separate room for asbestos containment equipment
  • Create a decontamination area with a separate area for employees to shower and remove work clothing before leaving the worksite
  • Ensure employees did not consume beverages inside an asbestos containment area
  • Monitor worksites for carbon monoxide exposure
  • Train workers on carbon monoxide hazards
  • Smoke test the containment area and glove bags used to contain asbestos
  • Provide ground fault circuit interrupters inside containment areas where wet techniques are used for asbestos removal
  • Provide medical evaluation and fit-testing for employees required to use respirators

York Building Products Ordered to Pay $135,000 in Back Wages and Damages to Whistleblower

A Pennsylvania masonry company terminated a plant manager—less than two weeks after it hired him—after the manager repeatedly reported air quality and other safety and health hazards to upper management at the company's Middletown plant in 2014.

York Building Products has entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor whereby the company will pay a total of $135,000 in back wages and compensatory damages to the terminated employee. The settlement resolves a whistleblower investigation conducted by OSHA. The company is one of the nation's largest producers of masonry units.

The employee began work as a plant manager on or around October 1, 2014. Shortly after, he identified several safety and health problems at the plant; among them were excessive respirable dust, worker exposure to noxious chemicals caused by equipment overspray, lack of personal protective equipment for workers, and broken tools and equipment. The manager also received multiple complaints from plant employees about safety and health conditions there. After receiving these complaints, he brought safety concerns to the attention of the plant operations manager on a daily basis.

During the week of October 7, a plant worker complained of illness, blaming excessive respirable dust as the cause. The manager then alerted the operations manager, again raising concerns about the plant's air quality and requesting that air quality testing be performed. The operations manager denied the request, and the existence of air quality problems, and then terminated the manager.

"Employers should act promptly and positively when they receive safety complaints from employees. In this instance, the employer did not, and they are paying the price," said Oscar L. Hampton III, Regional Solicitor in Philadelphia. "This settlement agreement makes the complainant whole for his wrongful termination and has a ripple effect that will act as a deterrent for other employers."

On October 14, the terminated manager filed two complaints with OSHA. One complaint alleged safety and health hazards at the plant, and the other complaint alleged the company fired him in retaliation for reporting these hazards. On October 20, OSHA began its safety and health investigation of the plant. Inspectors identified 38 violations, resulting in $38,880 in fines. Air samplings collected in the investigation showed that certain plant employees had been exposed to silica dust at amounts up to 14 times greater than permissible exposure limits.

"Extended exposure to silica dust can leave workers at risk of developing silicosis—a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. It may also cause other non-malignant respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis; lung cancer and kidney disease," said Richard Mendelson, OSHA Regional Administrator in Philadelphia. "York Building Products failed to protect its employees. Furthermore, no worker should have to fear retaliation when they raise workplace safety and health concerns."

The whistleblower investigation found the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it terminated the former plant manager. In addition to paying the back wages and damages, under this whistleblower settlement, York Building Products is required to provide supervisors with anti-retaliation training at the location where the terminated employee worked, and post the OSHA poster entitled, "Job Safety and Health, It's The Law."

A subsidiary of The Stewart Companies, York Building Products provides stone masonry, sand and gravel, asphalt and other products at nearly 20 locations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's largest masonry providers.

The Department's Office of the Regional Solicitor in Philadelphia handled the case.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise concerns about health and safety hazards in the workplace to the employer or the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conducted may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program.

Quick Carpentry Inc. Fined $105,631 For Exposing Workers to Falls

On September 26, 2016, OSHA issued Quick Carpentry, Inc., citations for two repeat and seven serious violations.

OSHA's inspection began on May 24, 2016, under the agency's local emphasis program focused on falls in construction.

Inspectors issued the repeat violations after finding that the company exposed employees to fall hazards and failed to provide training in recognition of fall hazards again. The agency cited the company for similar violations in February 2016.

The serious violations involved use of damaged ladders, workers exposed to struck-by hazards and the employer's failure to have a competent person conduct frequent and regular inspections of the site, ensure employees wore hard hats and provide employees with training to recognize fall hazards.

"Quick Carpentry exposed its employees to falls up to 12 feet while installing roof trusses on residential properties. Falls are the leading cause of serious injury and death in the construction industry so proper workplace safeguards are critical. This company's failure to provide basic fall protection and total disregard for safety on all of these issues jeopardizes its employees needlessly, and will not be tolerated" said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton Area Office.

Proposed penalties total $105,631.

Seneca Steel Exposed Workers to Six Story Falls

The absence of fall protection equipment exposed six temporary employees to falls of up to 60 feet as they welded and attached steel braces on a commercial construction site in Columbus, Ohio. A dangerous oversight given that falls account for nearly 40% of work-related fatalities—the construction industry's leading cause of death.

Responding to a report of unsafe working conditions, inspectors from OSHA observed inadequate fall protection for workers at a building site for Alliance Data System in the 3000 block of Loyalty Circle, on July 12, 2016.

On October 19, 2016, OSHA issued violations to the workers' employer Seneca Steel Erectors, Inc., Construction Labor Contractors, the temporary employment agency that provided the workers, and The Daimler Group, the site's general contractor.

"Asking workers to walk steel and work in aerial lifts at heights of 60 feet without fall protection is reckless and needlessly exposes them to the risks of serious injury and death," said Larry Johnson, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control over the employee, and are jointly responsible for a temporary employee's safety and health. General contractors also have a responsibility to inspect job sites and ensure safety procedures are followed."

The agency cited Seneca Steel Erectors, Inc., of Dublin, for eight serious and two repeated violations carrying proposed penalties of $92,286. The agency found Seneca failed to:

  • Ensure workers attached themselves to the basket of the aerial lift and stood firmly on the floor of the lift basket during operations. OSHA cited the company for these same violations in February 2013 at a job site in Dublin.
  • Provide required fall protection
  • Prevent loads on the boom and lift basket from exceeding limits
  • Train employees on how to operate aerial lifts and understand fall hazards
  • Provide a qualified rigger

OSHA also issued three serious violations to Construction Labor Contractors for failing to provide a qualified rigger, to train employees about fall hazards and proper operation of aerial lifts. OSHA has proposed penalties of $37,413 to Richfield-based company.

The agency cited the Daimler Group for failing to train workers in fall hazards and conduct site inspections. The company faces penalties of $17,460.

Federal safety and health officials are determined to reduce the numbers of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction industry. OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page provides fact sheets, posters and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

The ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. Begun in 2012, the campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use gear properly.

AJM Packaging Corp. Worker Suffers Amputation

OSHA issued a citation to AJM Packaging Corp., on October 18, 2016, for one repeated safety violation.

OSHA initiated an investigation at the Folkston paper product manufacturer after being notified that an employee suffered a partial amputation to his right hand's middle finger on July 27, 2016. The 35-year-old assistant crew leader was refeeding paper into a bag machine when his finger was pulled under the feed roller and into an unguarded slitter blade.

OSHA issued the repeated citation to the employer for not developing adequate safety procedures to protect employees from the slitter blades on the bag machine. The company was cited for this same violation in October 2015 at this facility.

Proposed penalties total $68,591.

"AJM Packaging was cited less than a year ago for this same violation and continues to expose workers to laceration and amputation hazards," said Margo Westmoreland, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "Employers must evaluate and correct safety and health hazards that expose workers to serious injury or death."

Two Northern Michigan Companies Again Recognized for Exemplary Workplace Safety

Arnold Center Incorporated located in Gladwin and Midwest International Standard Products Incorporated in Charlevoix received renewal of the prestigious Michigan Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (MSHARP) award from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). MIOSHA is part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

The MSHARP award acknowledges employers with outstanding workplace safety and health programs that far surpass their counterparts.

“The management and engaged employees of Arnold Center and Midwest International continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to accident and illness prevention,” said MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman. “MIOSHA is pleased to recognize Arnold Center for its third MSHARP renewal and Midwest International for its fourth.”

The program targets small manufacturers to help them develop, implement and continuously improve the effectiveness of their workplace safety and health management system. It provides an incentive for employers to emphasize accident and illness prevention by anticipating problems, not reacting to them.

MIOSHA’s Consultation, Education and Training Division, Onsite Consultation Program operates the MSHARP. Program worksites earn an exemption from "programmed" MIOSHA inspections on a yearly basis.

Onsite consultants work with employers to help them become self-sufficient in managing occupational safety and health. The MIOSHA review team for both companies consisted of Joe LeBlanc, senior safety consultant and Robert Dayringer, senior industrial hygienist.

Both facilities have excellent safety and health management systems in place, incorporating each of the seven required elements: hazard anticipation and detection; hazard prevention and control; planning and evaluation; administration and supervision; safety and health training; management leadership; and employee participation.

Some of Arnold Center’s best practices include monthly and yearly safety audits, and the completion of incident forms for all accidents and near misses.

“We are very proud to receive this distinguished award,” said Arnold Center Safety Director Greg Knopp. “It validates what is truly a team effort and commitment to make safety at the Arnold Center the number one priority. Thank you, MIOSHA for recognizing our team’s dedication.”

A couple of Midwest International’s best practices include internal inspections and surveillance, and prompt corrective action to prevent recurrence.

“Our safety supervisor, J’nean Feteroff, has done a great job managing our safety needs and working with the MSHARP protocol,” said Walter Pair, Midwest International CEO. “This is our eighth straight year with MSHARP, which reflects our commitment to the program. Everyone involved at Midwest has really bought in and has done a great job keeping safety a priority.”

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