A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

November 17, 2009

November News & Notes

High-visibility warning garments are required safety attire for highway and road construction workers according to a new letter of interpretation recently released by OSHA.

Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Declined in 2008. Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among private industry employers in 2008 occurred at a rate of 3.9 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers - a decline from 4.2 cases in 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported in 2008 declined to 3.7 million cases, compared to 4 million cases in 2007. The total recordable case (TRC) injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers has declined significantly each year since 2003. Read more here.

OSHA Addresses Combustible Dust Standard. OSHA has published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking as an initial step in developing a standard to address the hazards of combustible dust. More than 900 workers have been killed or injured in combustible dust explosions since 1980. OSHA has been conducting a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program since October 2007; a status report is available on OSHA's Combustible Dust Safety and Health Topics page. Read more details here.

CDC Flu Update. Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI) nationally decreased very slightly this week from last week, after four consecutive weeks of sharp increases.

  • ILI continues to be higher than what is seen during the peak of most regular flu seasons.

  • Total influenza hospitalization rates for laboratory-confirmed flu are climbing and higher than expected for this time of year.

  • Forty-eight states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time; a decline of one state from last week. This many reports of widespread activity at this time of year are unprecedented during seasonal flu.

  • Almost all influenza viruses identified so far continue to be 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. Read more from the CDC here.
OSHA to Evaluate State Plans. As a result of deficiencies found in Nevada OSHA's program, federal OSHA will implement a number of changes to strengthen the oversight, monitoring and evaluation of all state programs. Problems with the Nevada program include failure to issue appropriate willful and repeat violations, inspectors who were not properly trained to recognize construction hazards, and lack of follow-up to determine whether hazards were abated. Read more here.

A new H1N1 Flu and You brochure from gives information on the illness, tips on prevention and what to do if you get sick, signs of severe illness and more. Download a pdf file here.

BP Products North America Inc. has been issued the largest fine in OSHA's history for failure to correct potential hazards faced by employees - $87.4 million in proposed penalties. Safety violations at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery resulted in a massive explosion causing 15 deaths and 170 injuries in 2005. BP later agreed to corrective actions to eliminate potential hazards. The fine was recently announced following an OSHA evaluation that determined BP has allowed hundreds of potential hazards to continue unabated, even after four years. Read more here.

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