Advertisements suggesting that OSHA workplace posters must be purchased from private companies to avoid fines are incorrect. OSHA's official posters are available free for the asking.
The official OSHA poster was redesigned last year to make it easier to read and understand. The new poster, called "It's the Law!" is available in English and Spanish. Employers are not required to replace older posters with the new ones; however, employers are required to display one of the two posters in a prominent location.
The OSHA poster informs workers of their rights to a safe and healthful workplace; tells them how to file a complaint, report an emergency, and seek OSHA advice; and advises them of their right to confidentiality. It also lists the toll-free number for OSHA (800-321-OSHA) as well as phone numbers for regional OSHA offices around the country.
Complete the order form online, and fax your request to Publications at (202) 693-2498. You can also call (202) 698-1888 or write to: U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535 Washington, D.C. 20013-7535.
Employers in states operating OSHA-approved state plans should obtain and post the state's equivalent poster if there is one.
OSHA FINES MEDLEY, FLA., FIRM $92,650 FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT
OSHA has cited Trusscorp International Inc. and proposed penalties totaling $92,650 following a fatal accident at the company's Medley, Fla., plant.
OSHA inspectors found evidence that the November fatality occurred when an employee checking oil in a lift truck started the engine while standing outside the vehicle. The worker died of injuries sustained when the forklift rolled over him, crushing his lower torso.
OSHA cited one willful violation for failure to train employees about safe operation of forklifts. Two additional hazards were cited as serious -- not withdrawing a defective forklift from service and failing to examine the trucks before putting them in service.
Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director, said, "Although there were no witnesses to the accident, the evidence indicated that the forklift's parking brake was faulty and the gear appeared to be in reverse before the engine was started."
A comprehensive inspection pursuant to the initial response to the accident revealed 13 additional serious violations. These included machine guarding violations, electrical hazards, and lack of personal protective equipment and eye protection.
"If the employer in this case had inspected forklifts and removed damaged or faulty equipment from service, this tragic accident could have been avoided," Santiago said. "OSHA cites a willful violation, as in this case, when an employer exhibits intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations."
A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
Trusscorp International employs 30 workers at the Medley facility to manufacture roof trusses. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA CITES BERRY CONTRACTING LP DBA BAY LTD. IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS, FOR SIX ALLEGED SAFETY VIOLATIONS AND PROPOSES $94,500 IN PENALTIES
OSHA has cited Berry Contracting LP, doing business as Bay Ltd., in Corpus Christi, Texas, with six alleged safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $94,500.
Berry Contracting is a maintenance contractor that performs repairs and upgrades to chemical process systems. Berry has 175 workers on-site at the Valero Oil Refinery in Corpus Christi and employs 2,600 workers nationwide.
The alleged safety violations were discovered during an OSHA inspection that began Nov. 29, 2000, when two employees working at the Valero Refining site were exposed to hydrogen sulfide (H2S). One of the employees died a few days after the exposure. Berry was cited for one willful and five serious violations. Valero Refining Co. was cited for nine alleged safety violations with penalties totaling $138,000.
The willful violation was for failing to provide personal detection/monitoring equipment for employees working with a possible H2S exposure. H2S paralyzes a person's ability to breathe and, depending on the amount of exposure, a person can be asphyxiated instantly. A willful violation is defined as one that is committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
The five serious violations include exceeding maximum peak concentrations, not providing respirator protection for H2S exposures, and deficiencies in the lockout/tagout program. Lockout/tagout refers to labeling and shutting down an energy source in an appropriate manner. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
OSHA RECOMMENDS PROTECTIVE MEASURES FOR WORKERS EXPOSED TO ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION WHILE WORKING OUTDOORS
The arrival of warmer weather means that an increasing number of people will be working outdoors and will be exposed to sunlight while doing so. Sunlight is the main source of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause eye damage, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancers, such as melanoma.
In an effort to help the region's workers safeguard themselves against UV radiation, OSHA suggests that they take the following precautions when working outdoors:
- Wear protective clothing that does not transmit visible light.
- Frequently apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher.
- Wear broad-brimmed hats that protect the face, ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses that block UV rays.
- Seek shade, if possible, when the sun's intensity is at its peak-between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancers and see a health-care clinician if an unusual skin change occurs.
"Melanoma accounts for more than three-fourths of skin cancer-related deaths each year, though most skin cancers can be cured if detected early enough," says Ruth McCully, OSHA Regional Administrator for New England. "Unprotected employees working in sunlight risk exposure to UV radiation. Outdoor workers with fair skin and hair, freckles, or numerous or irregular moles are especially susceptible to sun damage. Even a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer. However, workers can take steps to protect their health and well-being."
"These simple precautions plus a knowledge of the hazards of UV exposure are workers' best allies in combating one of nature's deadliest hazards, now and in summers to come" McCully said.
To further assist workers and employers, OSHA has published a free pocket-sized card, "Protecting Yourself Against Harmful Sunlight" (OSHA Publication 3166), which provides detailed information on the hazards of UV radiation, symptoms of exposure, methods of protection and sources of additional information. The pocket card is advisory and informational; it is neither a new standard nor a new regulation and creates no legal obligation.
New England workers and employers can obtain copies of the free pocket card from one of the following OSHA area offices:
Connecticut: Hartford (860-240-3152); Bridgeport (203-579-5581)
Maine: Portland (207-780-3178); Bangor (207-941-8177);
Massachusetts: Braintree (617-565-6924); Methuen (617-565-8110);
New Hampshire: Concord (603-225-1629);
Rhode Island: Providence (401-528-4669);
DOT DIRTY DOZEN VIOLATIONS
When DOT comes to call for a site inspection, they generally conduct a "wall-to-wall" review of all DOT requirements for operation of commercial fleets. In recent years DOT has turned up the heat on many employers who were not taking compliance seriously. Levels of fines and other administrative actions have increased for those found out-of-compliance. Following are the top twelve areas that companies have been cited for in the past few years:
- Failing to require driver to prepare vehicle inspection report
- Failing to require driver to make a record of duty status
- Using a driver before receiving a pre-employment result
- Filing false reports of records of duty status
- Failing to implement a random drug/alcohol testing program
- Failing to do random drug tests at applicable annual rate
- Failing to keep minimum records of inspection and maintenance
- Requiring or permitting a driver to drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 days
- Failing to preserve driver's record of duty status for 6 months
- Using a commercial motor vehicle that is not periodically inspected
- Failing to maintain a driver qualification file on each driver
- Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program
OSHA CITES GARMENT MANUFACTURER IN AMERICAN SAMOA FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS
A garment manufacturer in American Samoa is facing a fine of $78,500 following an OSHA investigation of "hazardous and squalid working conditions."
Daewoosa Samoa, Ltd., was cited for 28 alleged safety and health violations at its Tafuna facility. The company ceased operations in January, and its owner, Kil-Soo Lee of South Korea, was arrested in March by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of involuntary servitude and forced labor. The FBI alleges that the owner obtained the services of Vietnamese factory workers through threats of serious physical harm or physical restraint.
"The conditions under which these workers work were beyond comprehension," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The owner of this factory must be held accountable for his inhumane acts and pay the consequences of his actions. The charges of both the FBI and OSHA make clear that justice will be served."
OSHA's inspection of the facility was prompted by a media referral following a disturbance between workers and management at the facility on Nov. 28, 2000. OSHA's inspection found numerous instances of dangerous and unsanitary working conditions.
OSHA assessed Daewoosa Samoa $30,000 in penalties for 11 alleged serious violations for inappropriate and insufficient sanitation facilities, inadequate fire exits, and lack of installed fire alarms. The owner was also cited improperly managing the temporary lodging facilities of workers by not controlling rodent and insect infestation; allowing unsanitary conditions in the kitchen and dining hall, including non-disposal of refuse; causing overcrowding in sleeping rooms; failing to provide functional fire extinguishers; and violating various electrical standards.
The company was also cited for eight alleged repeat violations stemming from three previous OSHA inspections beginning in September 1999. Those violations address the employer's failure to maintain OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping logs, install railings on stairs, furnish sanitary toilet conditions, document fire extinguisher checks, and cover electrical outlets. A total of $18,500 in penalties was proposed.
One failure-to-abate notice was issued with a proposed penalty of $30,000 for failing to provide hot water for sanitation. That instance was first cited in a September 1999 inspection. Eight other-than-serious violations were issued for failing to provide laundry sinks, handwash basins, food storage cabinets, needle guards on sewing machines, and fluorescent light covers. No penalties were proposed for the other-than-serious violations.
Until its closure in January, Daewoosa Samoa manufactured men's sportswear for numerous retail outlets in the United States. Approximately 250 people worked at the factory in American Samoa, a U.S. territory approximately 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii.
Daewoosa has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.