OSHAÆs Proposed Safety and Health Program Rule

October 01, 2004

Under OSHAÆs proposed Safety and Health Program Rule, each employer will be required to set up a safety and health program to manage workplace safety and health to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities by systematically achieving compliance with OSHA standards and the General Duty Clause. The program must be appropriate to conditions in the workplace, such as the hazards to which employees are exposed and the number of employees there.

The program must have the following core elements:

  • Management leadership and employee participation
  • Hazard identification and assessment
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Information and training
  • Evaluation of program effectiveness

For details on the proposed rule, see: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/safetyhealth/nshp.html




Uniform Company Faces OSHA Fine

Uniform supplier Cintas is facing a fine for unsafe working conditions at the companyÆs Rochester, NY, manufacturing plant. According to OSHA, the company broke 29 safety rules. As a result, Cintas is facing a proposed $44,000 in fines for a number of alleged serious safety violations. A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one that can cause serious physical harm or death.

The violations include exposing workers to live electrical components, failure to offer hepatitis vaccinations to workers who handle blood-contaminated laundry, and exposing workers to the risk of being crushed by large industrial washers. The Cincinnati-based company employs about 85 workers at the Rochester plant.

The inspection stemmed from a complaint from Keith Crawford, a former Cintas worker. According to the company, Crawford was fired for falsifying time cards. However, Crawford alleges that he was released after he alerted OSHA. He claimed that the working environment at the Rochester plant had been dangerous for several years.

OSHA citations are not final; a spokesman for the company indicated that Cintas will contest the violations in court. Company leaders are scheduled to meet with inspectors to clarify these issues and clear up any confusion.




OSHA Enforces California Weeding Ban

The California Farm Bureau Federation expressed concern that emergency state regulations on hand weeding may pose difficulties for that stateÆs farmers.

The state Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recently adopted a regulation prohibiting hand weeding "unless there is no readily available or reasonable alternative." California employers will be required to justify the necessity for hand weeding, but the regulation allows "occasional or intermittent" hand weeding. If the regulation is approved by the Office of Administrative Law, it will take effect early in October.

The new emergency regulations, which will be in effect for 120 days, will not affect most farms. The majority of crops are weeded mechanically, or by workers who use long-handled tools. However, hand weeding is considered to be a necessary technique, especially for flowers, nursery crops, vegetables, and organically grown commodities.

Enforcement of the rules as prescribed should allow farmers to retain the flexibility to weed the affected crops by hand when necessary. The alternative is the increased use of herbicides to kill weeds, an option which most farmers find undesirable.




Poultry Plant Receives OSHA Fine

OSHA cited Wayne Farms, LLC, following an investigation of a fatal accident that occurred at the companyÆs Albertville, AL, poultry processing plant in late April.

The fatal accident occurred at a workstation where caged birds were moved along a conveyor belt. The OSHA investigation found that an employee had reportedly stepped between two cages to free a stuck cage door when the cages were pushed forward, crushing the worker.

This type of mishap, known as a æstruck-byÆ accident, is a leading cause of worker deaths in the Southeast, according to the OSHA Birmingham area office which conducted the investigation.

OSHA issued 19 serious citations to Wayne Farms for allegedly exposing workers to safety hazards associated with conveyance systems, electrical equipment and corrosive chemicals. The citations carry $49,500 in proposed penalties.

OSHA also issued one repeat citation, with an additional proposed penalty of $10,000, for exposing maintenance and service employees to alleged fall hazards. A repeat citation is issued when a company has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Wayne Farms has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.




Ammonia Refrigeration E-Tool: Free From OSHA

Ammonia refrigeration systems with 10,000 pounds or more of ammonia are subject to the requirements of the Process Safety Management Standard [1910.119]. Many of these requirements are identified in an OSHA e-tool as possible controls and are useful as recommended practices whether or not the ammonia refrigeration system is a covered process. As mentioned in 1910.119 Appendix C, smaller businesses which may have limited resources might consider reductions in inventory or dispersing inventory to several locations to reduce the risk from an ammonia release.

The OSHA e-tool is designed to assist employers and employees in identifying and controlling the hazards associated with the operation and maintenance of ammonia refrigeration systems. This e-tool consists of Ammonia Receiving and Storage and Emergency Response modules. Other operations include condenser area, piping and pressure vessels, refrigeration spaces, and the machine room.

You can access the ammonia e-tool at this link.




OSHA Investigation Into Crane Fatality Begins

OSHA began an investigation into the death of a construction worker while working on a city well in Sioux Falls, SD.

Timothy Walsh, 37, of Columbus, OH, was loading equipment back onto a flatbed trailer when a crane started to sink, eventually overturning and crushing Walsh. After an initial investigation by area law enforcement, the case was turned over to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA requires employers to report work-related fatalities within eight hours. Normal procedure then includes an on-site investigation to ascertain whether any violation of OSHA regulations contributed to the death. If there should be evidence of any such violations, OSHA will issue citations.

OSHA can fine up to $7,000 for each serious violation. If regulations were violated previously, or were willingly violated, fines could total as much as $70,000. The agency works with families of the victims, providing information about the incident as it becomes available. An OSHA investigation may take up to six months to complete.