Tips to Protect Workers in Cold Environments

December 27, 2010

Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue, and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.

OSHA’s Cold Stress Card provides a reference guide and recommendations to combat and prevent many illnesses and injuries. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers, workers, and the public. OSHA’s tips on the card address ways to protect workers including:

  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.
  • Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
  • Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system—work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (e.g., sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea, sodas, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
  • Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition, or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease.


IATA Update – What’s New for 2011?

Each year, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) updates and revises the regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods (hazardous materials) by air. If you offer dangerous goods for transportation by air, you must follow the new regulations by January 1. A large number of significant changes are being implemented in the 2011 IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).


At this live webcast, you will learn:

  • Changes in the regulations for consumer commodities– new marking and shipping paper entries
  • New test authorized to determine classification and packing group of corrosives
  • Changes in the classification criteria for magnetized materials
  • Revisions to the classification of environmentally hazardous substances, marine pollutants, and aquatic pollutants
  • Phase in of new packing instructions for Class 3 flammable liquids, Class 4 flammable solids, Class 5 oxidizers/organic peroxides, Class 8 corrosives, Class 9 miscellaneous, and Division 6
  • New entries on the IATA List of Dangerous Goods and new special provisions
  • New marking requirements for net quantities, limited quantities, environmentally hazardous substances, and orientation arrows


Cleveland RCRA and DOT Training


Advertising Opportunities Available

Environmental Resource Center is making a limited number of advertising positions available in the Safety Tip of the Week™, the Environmental Tip of the Week™, and the Reg of the Day™. 

OSHA Acts to Protect Residential Roofing Workers

The directive being replaced, issued in 1995, was intended initially as a temporary policy and was the result of concerns about the feasibility of fall protection in residential building construction. However, there continues to be a high number of fall-related deaths in construction, and industry experts now feel that feasibility is no longer an issue or concern.

“Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths in construction. We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Almost every week, we see a worker killed from falling off a residential roof. We can stop these fatalities, and we must.”

The National Association of Home Builders recommended rescinding the 1995 directive, as did OSHA’s labor-management Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health; the AFL-CIO; and the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, which represents the 27 states and territories that run their own occupational safety and health programs.

According to data from the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. One-third of those deaths represent Latino workers, who often lack sufficient access to safety information and protections. Latino workers comprise more than one-third of all construction employees.

OSHA’s action rescinds the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, Standard 03-00-001. Prior to the issuance of this new directive, Standard 03-00-001 allowed employers engaged in certain residential construction activities to use specified alternative methods of fall protection rather than the conventional fall protection required by the residential construction fall protection standard.  Where residential builders find that traditional fall protection is not feasible in residential environments, 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) still allows for alternative means of providing protection.

Construction and roofing companies will have up to six months to comply with the new directive. OSHA has developed training and compliance assistance materials for small employers and will host a webinar for parties interested in learning more about complying with the standard. 

OSHA to Host Live Web chats, Conference call on Regulatory Agenda

OSHA will host live Web chats and, in one case, a conference call to discuss its regulatory agenda on January 5, 2011, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. EST. 


Underwriters Laboratories Expands Its Portfolio of Marks for Fire Alarm, Fire Detection & Fire Resistance Products

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced an expansion of its portfolio of Marks aimed at manufacturers of fire alarm, fire detection, and fire resistance products interested in selling their products in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and other applicable markets.

The combined UL Mark for Europe, Canada, and the U.S. is the first transcontinental Mark in UL’s portfolio of market-leading certification marks now available for fire alarm, fire detection, and fire resistance manufacturers. The Mark demonstrates product compliance with applicable European standards as well as applicable requirements for Canada and the U.S. Manufacturers now have the opportunity to earn a combined Mark with one product submittal, enabling them to reduce critical time-to-market and compliance costs by combining global testing and certification efforts with one organization at one time.

For manufacturers that require European market access, UL has introduced the new UL-EU Mark, a pan-European certification mark. The UL-EU Mark is part of UL’s global market strategy to help manufacturers get safe products to market quickly. UL’ efforts are a response to industry desire to reduce the number of certification marks on their products, and the need for a strong global brand behind the marks associated with their products. The UL-EU Mark on a product means that samples of the product have been tested to applicable European safety standards. Trust in a manufacturer’s safety claim is key, and going the extra step to earn a voluntary safety mark to accompany the CE marking demonstrates a manufacturer’s commitment to safety.

“The global marketplace moves rapidly. There has never been a greater need than now in the marketplace for a well-recognized and valued Mark that can provide confidence in the safety of the products being sold,” said Chris Hasbrook, UL global vice president, Building Materials, Life Safety & Security industries. “UL is internationally known for safety and integrity, thanks to a long history of technical expertise, standards development, commitment to research and its strong global network of safety experts.”

Consumers, retailers, code authorities, architects, insurers, and fire brigades worldwide rely on UL’s Marks to provide confidence in product compliance to applicable safety standards regionally, and can now have that same confidence of a product’s compliance to European standards as well.

Manufacturers utilizing one of these two UL Marks will see immediate benefits. Primary benefits include: having only one product submittal and one team of UL testing experts to accommodate their testing requests; strong market recognition; reduced number of certification marks appearing on products; and a greater public confidence in the safety of products supplied to the market.

OSHA Cites Contractor for not Protecting Workers against Falls at Wal-Mart Jobsite

OSHA has issued Destin Drywall and Paint Inc., of Houston, Texas, five serious citations and one repeat citation for fall hazards and other safety violations. The company was cited while installing wallboard to the exterior of a Wal-Mart store in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. Proposed penalties total $20,100.

“This protection is critical given that falls are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry.”

Serious citations allege a failure to provide fall protection for employees working on aerial lifts, training for employees on fall protection requirements while working on aerial lifts and roofs, and required personal protective equipment. They also allege that the company permitted workers to operate a rough terrain forklift without required training and allowed misuse of a stepladder. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Penalties for the serious citations total $11,700.

The repeat citation alleges that the company permitted its employees to work on a surface greater than 6 feet above the ground without an approved method of fall protection. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The proposed penalty for this repeat citation is $8,400.

Destin Drywall was issued a separate serious citation with a $1,500 penalty earlier this year for not providing proper fall protection while performing work at a Wal-Mart location in Benbrook, Texas. The company also was issued two additional serious citations and $3,375 in penalties for similar hazards while performing work at a Wal-Mart site in North East, Maryland.

OSHA Cites Peoria Siding & Window Co. for Failing to Provide Roofers with Fall Protection

OSHA has cited Peoria Siding & Window Co., Inc., of Washington, Illinois, with one willful safety violation for failing to provide fall protection for employees working on residential roofing projects. The company faces penalties totaling $48,400.

The citation follows an investigation OSHA conducted in November at a jobsite in Pekin, Illinois. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

“Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria, Illinois. “Failing to provide fall protection is unacceptable, and OSHA is committed to ensuring employers abide by this agency’s safety and health regulations.”

Peoria Siding & Window, an exterior home improvement company, also was cited for failing to provide fall protection for workers in July 2008 and July 2010.

OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems, be in use when workers perform residential construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

OSHA Fines Di Paolo Co. $113,000 for Failure to Provide Cave-in Protection for Trench Workers

OSHA has cited Di Paolo Co., in Glenview, Illinois, with one willful and nine serious safety violations for allowing workers in Elgin to perform trenching and excavation work at depths of up to 12.5 feet without cave-in protection. The citations carry total penalties of $113,000.

“Cave-in accidents are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations. At the time of the inspection, members of the Di Paolo management team were on site and still allowed workers to be exposed to serious safety hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Kathy Webb in North Aurora, Illinois. “This situation simply is unacceptable, and we will do all we can to protect workers by enforcing OSHA regulations.”

Di Paolo Co., specializes in installation of underground water and sewer pipes. OSHA’s inspection, initiated in June, cited the company with one willful violation for failing to provide cave-in protection for these workers. Cave-in protection is required when employees are working in an excavation at a depth greater than 5 feet. The violation has a proposed fine of $70,000.

Additionally, the company was issued nine serious violations with proposed penalties of $43,000 for failing to provide fall protection for shoring systems and walkways, failing to properly train flaggers, and having spliced flexible extension cords and unapproved repairs to electrical cords.

Prior to this inspection, Di Paolo had been inspected by OSHA 20 times since 1982 and received 33 citations, many for trenching violations. In 1993, the company received four citations when a worker was fatality injured on a jobsite.


$360,000 Penalty for Trench Cave-in Hazards

OSHA has issued Gerardi Sewer & Water Co., in Norridge, Illinois, eight willful, two serious, and three repeat safety citations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. The citations arose from work the company performed in the Illinois villages of Elmhurst, Park Ridge, Oak Lawn, and Des Plaines. Gerardi faces proposed penalties of $360,000.

“Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “At each of these four jobsites, Gerardi’s president and foreman were present and still failed to protect their workers despite their knowledge of required safety procedures. This situation demonstrates a systemic problem with the way this company approaches safety and demonstrates an egregious disregard for workers’ lives.”

OSHA issued willful citations alleging that Gerardi failed to properly protect workers from trench cave-ins, the result of four separate inspections conducted under the OSHA Trenching and Excavation Special Emphasis Program. The inspections occurred June 25 in Elmhurst, July 28 in Park Ridge, September 21 in Oak Lawn, and November 17 in Des Plaines.

Employees were found to be working at varying depths from 5.9 to 8 feet without cave-in protection during the inspections.

“OSHA implemented a Trenching and Excavation Special Emphasis Program in the 1980s, so the industry is well aware of the safety regulations for trenching operations,” said OSHA Area Director Kathy Webb in North Aurora, Illinois. “Gerardi Sewer & Water has been inspected and cited by OSHA numerous times. There is no excuse for noncompliance at its jobsites.”

Gerardi Sewer & Water Co., was issued repeat citations alleging that employees failed to wear hard hats and high-visibility vests at the Elmhurst site, and that Gerardi failed to provide a safe means of access and egress for employees working in an excavation site in Des Plaines.

The company was issued serious citations for allegedly failing to ensure that water accumulations were removed from a trench at both the Elmhurst and Des Plaines sites.

This case meets the criteria for OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations. 

Prior to the four inspections detailed above, Gerardi Sewer and Water Co., had been inspected by OSHA eight times since 1987, resulting in 15 prior citations.

$87,000 Fine for Exposing Workers to Potential Cave-ins

OSHA has issued Ballenger Construction Co., in Corpus Christi, Texas, three serious and two repeat citations for exposing workers to potential cave-ins while performing trenching work to install a storm drain. Proposed penalties total $87,000.


OSHA’s Corpus Christi Area Office began its investigation on June 22 at the company’s worksite on Twin River Boulevard where employees were working on installing a storm drain without proper shoring or benching to adequately protect them from a possible cave-in.

Serious citations were issued alleging a failure to ensure employees did not enter areas under digging equipment, ensure soil was placed 2 feet or more from the excavation site, and provide safe access to a work area with a break in elevation greater than 19 inches.

The two repeat violations were cited for allegedly failing to provide workers with egress when working in a trench that is deeper than 4 feet and failing to provide cave-in protection.

OSHA Cites Grain Facility Following Fatality

OSHA has issued CHS Inc., doing business as United Plains Ag in Weskan, Kansas, one willful and one serious citation following the death of a worker who fell through an access hole in a grain bin and was killed. The company allegedly exposed employees to fall and unguarded machinery hazards.

“Unfortunately, incidents in grain elevators are not rare occurrences,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Missouri. “OSHA has found that deaths in grain elevators generally occur because of employer negligence, failure to comply with OSHA standards, and/or poor safety and health practices. All employers, and especially those in high-hazard industries such as the grain industry, must take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace.”


The serious citation addresses hazards associated with unguarded sprocket wheels and chains.

Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels sent a letter to businesses in the grain handling industry reminding them of their responsibility to ensure their workers’ safety. 

OSHA has proposed $75,000 in penalties for CHS Inc.

Philadelphia Construction Company Earns OSHA Star

OSHA has certified L.F. Driscoll LLC’s construction site at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a “star” worksite, the highest honor in its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

“L.F. Driscoll’s commitment to ensuring a safe and healthful work environment for employees makes it most deserving of this honor,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Philadelphia, who attended the ceremony.

L.F. Driscoll employs 115 workers and completes building construction projects ranging from very small renovations to major building expansion projects.

The VPPs recognize employers and workers in private industry and federal agencies that have implemented effective safety and health management systems, and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training, management commitment and worker involvement. 

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