The recent release of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 14th Report on Carcinogens includes seven newly reviewed substances, bringing the cumulative total to 248 listings.
The chemical trichloroethylene (TCE), and the metallic element cobalt and cobalt compounds that release cobalt ions in vivo, are being added to the list, as well as five viruses that have been linked to cancer in humans. The five viruses include human immunodeficiency virus type 1, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1, Epstein-Barr virus, Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, and Merkel cell polyomavirus.
“Given that approximately 12 percent of human cancers worldwide may be attributed to viruses, and there are no vaccines currently available for these five viruses, prevention strategies to reduce the infections that can lead to cancer are even more critical,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Toxicology Program (NTP). “The listings in this report, particularly the viruses, bring attention to the important role that prevention can play in reducing the world’s cancer burden. There are also things people can do to reduce their exposure to cobalt and TCE.”
The Report on Carcinogens is a congressionally mandated report prepared for the HHS Secretary by NTP. The report identifies many different types of environmental factors, collectively called substances, including chemicals; infectious agents, such as viruses; physical agents, such as X-rays and ultraviolet radiation; mixtures of chemicals; and exposure scenarios in two categories—known to be a human carcinogen and reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.
It’s important to note that a listing in the report indicates a cancer hazard, but does not by itself mean that a substance or a virus will cause cancer. Many factors, including an individual’s susceptibility to a substance, and the amount and duration of exposure, can affect whether a person will develop cancer. In the case of viruses, a weakened immune system may also be a contributing factor. People should talk to their health care providers about decreasing their cancer risk from viruses.
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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. Although all of the deadlines have past, many worksites are still struggling with outdated MSDSs, old product labels, and workers that don’t understand the international hazard statements and symbols.
Environmental Resource Center is offering live online training for you to learn how to implement the rule at your facility. Bring your questions to the upcoming webcast on How to Implement OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) on November 15.
OSHA Focuses on Reducing Amputations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas
For manufacturing industry workers, amputation is serious risk and the cause of more than a 1,400 serious injuries each year. In 2015, OSHA received reports of more than 2,600 amputations nationwide—57% of them suffered by manufacturing workers.
Most often, amputations occur when workers operate machines without proper or adequately safety guards.
In an effort to stem the tide, OSHA recently announced a heightened focus on amputation hazards in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The goal is to enforce safety regulations and hold employers responsible for protecting workers and reducing instances of worker amputations.
"Our focus on amputation hazards reminds employers that safety and health should remain a top priority," said Kelly C. Knighton, regional administrator for OSHA. "We can only hope that the focus on this issue will reduce the potential for continued worker exposure to unguarded machines and equipment."
The push begins with a targeted enforcement phase, including on-site inspections and a review of employers in industries with machinery that exposes workers to amputation hazards. Federal safety and health inspectors will evaluate operations, working conditions, recordkeeping and safety and health programs to ensure compliance.
OSHA will conduct a surge of planned inspections immediately. Area offices will continue to open inspections in response to complaints, hospitalizations and fatalities.
Healthcare Facilities Required to Bolster Emergency Preparedness
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule to establish consistent emergency preparedness requirements for health care providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid, increase patient safety during emergencies, and establish a more coordinated response to natural and man-made disasters.
Over the past several years, and most recently in Louisiana, a number of natural and man-made disasters have put the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries—and the public at large—at risk. These new requirements will require certain participating providers and suppliers to plan for disasters and coordinate with federal, state tribal, regional, and local emergency preparedness systems to ensure that facilities are adequately prepared to meet the needs of their patients during disasters and emergency situations.
“Situations like the recent flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, remind us that in the event of an emergency, the first priority of health care providers and suppliers is to protect the health and safety of their patients,” said CMS Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc. “Preparation, planning, and one comprehensive approach for emergency preparedness is key. One life lost is one too many.”
“As people with medical needs are cared for in increasingly diverse settings, disaster preparedness is not only a responsibility of hospitals, but of many other providers and suppliers of healthcare services. Whether it’s trauma care or long-term nursing care or a home health service, patients’ needs for health care don’t stop when disasters strike; in fact their needs often increase in the immediate aftermath of a disaster,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “All parts of the healthcare system must be able to keep providing care through a disaster, both to save lives and to ensure that people can continue to function in their usual setting. Disasters tend to stress the entire health care system, and that’s not good for anyone.”
After reviewing the current Medicare emergency preparedness regulations for both providers and suppliers, CMS found that regulatory requirements were not comprehensive enough to address the complexities of emergency preparedness. For example, the requirements did not address the need for:
- Communication to coordinate with other systems of care within cities or states
- Contingency planning
- Training of personnel
CMS proposed policies to address these gaps in the proposed rule, which was open to stakeholder comments.
After careful consideration of stakeholder comments on the proposed rule, this final rule requires Medicare and Medicaid participating providers and suppliers to meet the following four common and well known industry best practice standards.
- Emergency plan: Based on a risk assessment, develop an emergency plan using an all-hazards approach focusing on capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters specific to the location of a provider or supplier.
- Policies and procedures: Develop and implement policies and procedures based on the plan and risk assessment.
- Communication plan: Develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both Federal and State law. Patient care must be well coordinated within the facility, across health care providers, and with State and local public health departments and emergency systems.
- Training and testing program: Develop and maintain training and testing programs, including initial and annual trainings, and conduct drills and exercises or participate in an actual incident that tests the plan.
These standards are adjusted to reflect the characteristics of each type of provider and supplier. For example:
- Outpatient providers and suppliers such as Ambulatory Surgical Centers and End-Stage Renal Disease Facilities will not be required to have policies and procedures for provision of subsistence needs.
- Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Long Term Care facilities will be required to install and maintain emergency and standby power systems based on their emergency plan.
In response to comments, CMS made changes in several areas of the final rule, including removing the requirement for additional hours of generator testing, flexibility to choose the type of exercise a facility conducts for its second annual testing requirement, and allowing a separately certified facility within a healthcare system to take part in the system’s unified emergency preparedness program.
The final rule also includes a number of local and national resources related to emergency preparedness, including helpful reports, toolkits, and samples. Additionally, health care providers and suppliers can choose to participate in their local healthcare coalitions, which provide an opportunity to share resources and expertise in developing an emergency plan and also can provide support during an emergency.
These regulations are effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Health care providers and suppliers affected by this rule must comply and implement all regulations one year after the effective date.
Inventors Selected in First-Ever Noise Safety Challenge
Three inventors were recognized for their ideas to reduce work-related hearing loss during the first 'Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge' hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA and Mine Safety and Health Administration, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on October 27, in Washington, D.C.
The challenge was launched with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. Ten finalists, selected from 28 submissions to Challenge.gov, were invited to Washington, D.C., to present their solutions to reduce workplace-induced hearing loss.
"This event was an innovative way for government to help better protect workers from job-related hearing loss by connecting the entrepreneurial community with inventors developing solutions," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
A panel of judges awarded first place to Nick Laperle and Jeremie Voix for their custom-fitted earpiece designed to provide a worker with protection, communication, and monitoring.
Brendon Dever was selected for second place for a wearable sensor technology that affixes to glasses or protective equipment such as hardhats. The sensor detects noise levels and provides warnings and other communications via color-coded lights.
Third place was awarded to Madeline Bennett for an interchangeable decorative piece that attaches to silicone earplugs. The attachments are manufactured with licensed designs for sports teams, businesses, or music festivals.
North Carolina Workplace Injury and Illness Rate Drops to Historic Low
North Carolina’s workplace injury and illness rate for private industry dropped to a historic low in 2015 keeping the Tar Heel state one of the safest states in which to work. The rate dropped from 2.7 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2014 to 2.6 for 2015 and remains below the national rate.
“During my service as Labor Commissioner, I am proud of the fact that North Carolina’s injury and illness rate has dropped 51 percent (5.3 to 2.6) over the past 15 years,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “The record-low injury and illness rate is a credit to the employers and employees of our state. Safety is being embraced by management as well as those on the front lines who are performing the state’s most dangerous work.”
The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Division focuses on hazardous industries like construction and manufacturing by implementing special emphasis programs, providing free education and training, conducting free safety and health consultative visits, and establishing partnerships and alliances.
The 2015 rate for construction dropped to 2.7 per 100 full-time workers from 3.3 in 2014, below the national rate of 3.5. The 2015 rate for manufacturing remained steady at 3.3, below the national rate of 3.8.
North Carolina is one of the top 10 safest states in which to work, with a rate statistically less than the national rate of 3.0.
Labor officials point to other driving factors that are affecting the state’s record-low rates. Accidents are costly when you factor in legal fees, insurance costs, plant down time, and liability suits. Many employers are implementing effective safety and health programs to lower costs and improve their bottom line.
“Good employers understand that a good workplace safety program pays for itself,” Commissioner Berry said, “but at the end of the work day, it’s really about making it home to family and loved ones that matters most.”
South Dakota Companies’ Negligence Led to Fatality
Federal investigators found multiple safety violations at a South Dakota ethanol refinery expansion project after a 38-year-old pipefitter suffered fatal burn injuries when ethanol spilled from a process pipe he was working on and was ignited by flames from nearby welding operations.
On November 1, 2016, OSHA issued five serious safety violations to the worker's employer Bilfinger-Westcon, the project's construction contractor. Inspectors determined the contractor allowed welding work to occur without verifying that the area was free of flammable liquids.
OSHA cited the refinery operator and owner, Sioux River Ethanol, LLC, which operates as Poet Biorefining-Hudson, for three serious violations of OSHA's process safety management standards including failing to ensure the process pipe being removed did not contain ethanol.
"This death was needless and preventable if critical safety standards had been followed," said Sheila Stanley, OSHA's area director in Sioux Falls. "Communication between the host employer and all contractors is critical in working safely at any site covered by the Process Safety Management Standard. All aspects of permit systems including 'hot work' and line break must be implemented to ensure that welding activities do not occur near line break activities where flammable materials may be released."
Agency investigators determined the pipefitter was removing a vent line on the sixth floor of the refinery's distillation building on May 6, 2016, when the incident occurred. As he detached a nine-foot segment of this line, 190-proof ethanol spilled onto him, flowed through the grated flooring, and ignited on the fourth floor due to the welding operations occurring there. The resulting fire engulfed the worker, causing fatal injuries that led to his death the following day.
The agency cited his employer Bilfinger-Westcon for:
- Conducting welding operations in an area where flammable liquids could be present
- Failing to provide flame retardant clothing
- Not training workers in procedures for process safety procedures and hazards, associated with working in a processing facility
OSHA has proposed penalties of $62,355. Based in Bismarck, North Dakota, Bilfinger-Westcon is a diversified industrial construction company that provides construction services to large industrial processing facilities throughout the nation.
The agency cited Poet Biorefining-Hudson for failing to:
- Inform contractors working at their facility of the hazards related to ethanol processing
- Implement written procedures to conduct shutdown activities including verifying the process piping did not contain ethanol
- Ensure safe work practices including controlling the entrance, presence and exit of contract workers within the process area
OSHA has proposed penalties of $37,413 to the Hudson-based company, a leading producer of ethanol and other biorefined products, operating more than 25 U.S. facilities.
TC Excavating Fined $142,800 After Employee Killed in Trench Collapse
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has fined TC Excavating LLC $142,800 for five violations, including two willful violations. The citation was based on an investigation of a trench that collapsed and killed an employee.
The accident occurred on May 5, 2016, during the installation of a sewer line for a house in southwest Portland. The investigation found two employees were working in an improperly shored trench that was about 10 feet deep. The excavation was incorrectly braced because two pieces of shoring were spaced too far apart to handle unstable soil. One of the employees was on his hands and knees working between the two pieces of shoring—spaced 15 feet apart—when the unprotected wall collapsed. The collapse buried and killed the employee.
During the investigation, the company’s owner, who was on site, said he was negligent in allowing his employees to work in such a situation. He said he saw that the shoring was set up about 15 feet apart and that he knew it was not set up correctly. “I know the rules,” he said, noting he has more than 16 years of excavation experience.
“There is absolutely no good reason for an employer to disregard clear and time-tested excavation rules that protect workers from such tragedies,” said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “This is a time to pause and remember that a young man died, leaving behind family and friends and co-workers. And it is a time to remind ourselves that this was not some sort of ‘freak accident.’ It was predictable and it was preventable.”
Oregon OSHA cited the company for two willful violations, each with the legal maximum penalty of $70,000. A willful violation occurs when an employer intentionally or knowingly allows a violation to occur.
One of the willful violations was based on the company’s failure to provide employees with an adequate system to protect them from cave-ins. Under Oregon OSHA rules, excavators must shield their workers from cave-in hazards by taking defined steps. Those steps include ensuring that shoring devices are properly installed according to written requirements approved by a professional engineer. Manual and visual soil tests also must be conducted.
The investigation found the shoring used by TC Excavating should have been spaced no more than eight feet apart. During the investigation, the company’s foreman said he had not read the written requirements for the shoring, even though it was available. He also said he did not know how to classify the soil type and did not do a manual or visual test.
The other willful violation stemmed from the company’s failure to provide employees with a ladder or other safe means to leave the trench. Oregon OSHA rules require an excavation that has a depth of four feet or more to have a ladder, stairway, or ramp within 25 feet of employees, whose safety may depend on how quickly they can climb out.
The owner of TC Excavating saw that employees had no ladder and said he did not know if a ladder was at the job site, according to the investigation. The foreman said employees were not using a ladder to get in and out of the trench. No ladder was found at the job site for employees to use, the investigation showed.
The following serious violations, totaling $2,800 in fines, were also found during the investigation:
- The company failed to inspect the excavation and protective system before employees went to work.
- The company failed to keep a pile of unearthed material away from the edge of the excavation, exposing employees to possible falling debris.
- The company failed to document safety meetings.
For more information about Oregon OSHA’s rules regarding excavations visit the Excavations topic page. Learn about excavations and safe practices for small business owners and contractors in this Excavations publication.
PECOFacet Fined $224,477 for Failure to Protect Employees from Hazards
While investigating one serious employee injury in May 2016, at PECOFacet—a global manufacturer of filtration and containment products—inspectors with OSHA found themselves investigating a second incident in which another employee was hurt seriously three days after they arrived.
The agency opened its initial investigation on May 3, 2016, after an employee suffered a finger amputation on April 26, 2016, when a part of metal plate being fabricated fell on the worker's finger while the employee was still in training. On May 6, 2016, a 1,300-pound metal product being fabricated fell on an employee's feet causing serious injuries.
OSHA's investigation of both incidents found workers operating machinery without point of operation and safety guards and emergency stop switches. The agency issued citations and proposed fines of $224,477. In addition to lacking machine guards and stop switches inspectors found 21 serious violations for:
- Allowing equipment to operate without safety latches
- Permitting the use of non-compliant crane equipment
- Failing to address electrical hazards
- Not having guard rails on elevated surfaces
- Failing to mark emergency exits
- Ladders not meeting specification requirements and not maintained
- Lockout/tagout procedures not developed or implemented
- Horizontal belts and shafts not guarded
"No worker should suffer amputation or be struck-by product at a large manufacturer such as PECOFacet. The number of violations at this facility is astounding," said Jack Rector, OSHA's Fort Worth Area Director. "This employer is responsible for the protection and safety of its workers from these types of life-altering injuries."
Ridge Corporation Fined $214,857 for Exposing Workers to Amputation
For at least two years, an Ohio manufacturer of thermoplastic lining systems for truck bodies and trailers exposed workers to the risk of amputation and other serious injury by disabling safety devices to speed production.
On October 26, 2016, OSHA issued one willful, two repeated and six serious citations, and one other-than-serious citation for safety violations to Ridge Corporation. In its investigation, the agency found the company deactivated light curtains that prevent workers from coming in contact with operating machine parts. Investigators determined Ridge disabled the devices to produce products more quickly.
In 2015, OSHA cited the company for a lack of machine safety procedures and for failing to require employees to wear gloves when handling materials at its Frazeyburg facility. The Pataskala-based manufacturer faces proposed penalties of $214,857.
"OSHA's investigation found the company's leadership created a culture that routinely tolerated willful and serious safety violations in favor of production," said Larry Johnson, OSHA's area director in Columbus. "When companies prioritize profit over the health and safety of their workforce, too often it is the workers that pay the price. Lack of machine safety procedures injury hundreds of workers each year and continue to be among the most frequently cited by OSHA."
OSHA complaint investigation found Ridge Corporation failed to:
- Install machine guards on multiple pieces of equipment
- Remove defective forklifts from service
- Cover exposed electrical connections
Railtech Boutet Exposed Workers to Silica, Noise, Other Hazards
An Ohio manufacturer of railroad track repair kits routinely exposed its workers amputation risks and other serious injuries as they serviced and maintained industrial core machine mixers, an inspection by OSHA has found.
Acting on a complaint, OSHA inspectors found Railtech Boutet, Inc., failed to develop procedures to power down and lockout operating parts, a process known as lockout/tagout. The agency cited the Napoleon-based employer for one willful, and 11 serious safety and health violations following its July 2016 investigation. In addition to the machine hazards, inspectors found workers exposed to air contaminants such as silica, noise, and other hazards. Railtech Boutet faces proposed OSHA penalties of $159,631.
"All too often, OSHA finds employers are complacent with machine safety features and bypass them to speed production," said Kim Nelson, area director of OSHA's Toledo office. "Additionally, employers working with processes that can expose workers to silica, noise and other corrosive material must have procedures in place to minimize and monitor such exposure to ensure the long-term health of workers."
OSHA's inspection found the company failed to:
- Conduct air monitoring for contaminants such as silica
- Implement a hearing conservation program
- Install gates and guardrails to prevent falls at ladderway openings and around dangerous equipment
- Guard operating parts of mixing equipment
- Cover electrical junction boxes, unused openings in circuit breaker panels
- Install an eyewash station near corrosive material
- Develop a hazard communication program and train employees about hazardous materials in use
- Store flammable liquid properly
Collis Roofing Exposed Workers to Dangerous Falls
Inspectors with OSHA saw Collis Roofing's workers unprotected from falls as they installed shingles at a residence. OSHA cited the contractor with two repeated violations and one serious violation. The agency initiated the inspection as part of its Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction.
OSHA issued the repeated citations for Collis' failure to protect workers with a fall protection system when working 6 feet or more above a lower level, and allowing employees to operate powered nail guns without eye protection. Federal standards require the use of a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest systems when employees are working at heights greater than 6 feet.
The agency cited the company with a serious violation for not extending a portable ladder 3 feet above the landing area.
OSHA has cited the employer previously seven times since 2011 for willful, repeated, and serious violations for a lack of fall and eye protection.
Proposed penalties total $142,865.
"Although Collis Roofing advertises that it cares about the safety of customer's families and employees, the company continues to jeopardize the lives of their workers by not ensuring they are protected from serious injury or death when working at dangerous heights," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "This employer is fully aware of OSHA's standards and yet—seven times in five years—we have found Collis putting their workers at risk in violation of federal safety laws."
Bekaert Corp. Failed to Protect Employee from Amputation
A Bekaert Corp. employee suffered amputation while trying to untangle moving wire at the Arkansas facility that manipulates and coats steel products. Inspectors from OSHA’s Little Rock Area office found machines that carry steel wire and pulleys with unguarded pinch points, a violation for which OSHA cited the company at the same location in April 2015. The agency identified the most recent violation in an inspection that began July 7, 2016 resulting in penalties for repeat violation.
Proposed penalties total $124,710.
"Despite our warnings, Bekaert Corp. has allowed unsafe activities to occur and now a worker has suffered an amputation as a result," said Carlos Reynolds, OSHA's Area Director in Little Rock. "This employer must take seriously its responsibility to protect the safety and health of its employees. We will continue to inspect and cite this facility until the company properly guards its machinery, and complies with all safety requirements."
NIBCO Inc. Honored as Workplace Safety and Health Leader
NIBCO, Inc., of Goshen, Indiana, achieved consecutive approval as a STAR participant in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Indiana VPP sites are recognized as leaders in workplace safety and health, and those who achieve the ‘STAR’ title go above and beyond the merit.
NIBCO, Inc., is involved in the manufacture of valves, fittings, and other piping products for construction, industrial, fire sprinkler, and environmental protection markets. The plant employs 128 workers. The Goshen location, one of ten in the United States, Poland, and Mexico, has been a part of the Goshen community since 1968. NIBCO’s national headquarters is located in Elkhart, Indiana.
“VPP certification isn’t given lightly, let alone the ‘STAR’ achievement within the program,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “Management and employees at the Goshen NIBCO plant recognize the value of a safe and healthy workplace, and they’ve worked hard to attain that type of environment.”
For the past three years, the plant had an average of 1.1 recordable occupational injury or illness incidents per 100 full-time workers, 83% below the industry average of 6.4.