A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

July 22, 2013

Top 10 OSHA Fines in June Approach $2 Million

OSHA issued ten 6-figure fines in June, with a total proposed value of more than $1.9 million. Trenching hazards and health and safety violations were common citations, as were willful and repeat violations. Here are some details of the cases, which are still pending final decisions:
1.  $465,410 for Electrocution, Other Hazards at N.Y. Construction Site
DANGER Electrocution Hazard
Electrocution Hazard Sign
  • Workers for three contractors performed concrete work and crane operations close to energized 13,200-volt overhead power lines during construction of a five-story building in Valley Stream, N.Y. The employers were issued willful citations for allowing employees and crane operations in close proximity to the power lines. They had been issued serious citations for not marking the power lines with warning signs.
  • Serious citations included failures to check if lines had been de-energized; train workers on electrocution hazards; have cranes inspected by a qualified person after assembly; mark the crane's swing radius; have protective helmets; and label and protect rigging, and not marking overhead power lines with warning signs.

2.  $325,710 and SVEP for Violations Related to Fire Fatality in Cincinnati
  • Four willful violations were among 22 safety and health violations assigned after a fire and explosion at a Cincinnati waste treatment facility. Two employees were severely burned by the fire, one fatally. Even after the explosion, the company failed to immediately address procedures and ensure employees knew how to use appropriate personal protective equipment and properly handle hazardous waste such as sodium chlorate, which caused the fire.
  • Willful violations cited involve failing to develop and implement hazardous waste handling procedures,  provide new training to employees assigned to handle waste materials, select and ensure use of proper personal protective equipment, and train workers on its selection and use for protection from various materials that are part of their routine assignments. Serious violations involved training and health issues.

3.  $258,000 for 51 Health and Safety Violations at Ohio Explosives Factory
  • Twenty-three serious violations related to process safety management include failing to correct deficiencies found in compliance audits; failing to have operating procedures address consequences of deviation from operating limits, including steps to avoid or correct deviation from such limits; and not following generally accepted good engineering practices for inspection and testing procedures.
  • An additional 24 serious violations involve inadequate labeling of hazardous chemical containers, not developing energy control procedures for the maintenance and servicing of equipment, lack of machine guarding and fall protection, as well as violations of electrical safety standards. Four other-than-serious violations involve failing to identify the worker who applied a lockout device, not effectively closing unused openings in electrical cabinets and boxes and not including the properties and hazards presented by process chemicals in written operating procedures.
4.  $159,400 for Machine Guarding and LOTO at a New York Manufacturer
  • Following an amputation incident, the company received two willful citations for an unguarded foot pedal and for failing to secure a saw to the floor. Sixteen serious citations involve failing to establish a lockout/tagout program and provide energy control equipment and training to workers; lack of a hazard communication program and failing to train employees on chemical and wood dust hazards; an exit door that was welded shut; various electrical hazards; untrained powered industrial truck operators; failure to keep the workplace clean, orderly and sanitary; floor not maintained in good repair; and inadequate guarding of moving machine parts.

July 16, 2013

New OSHA Regional Program Targets Automotive Lifts

Auto Lift Safety Sign: Remain clear of lift when raising or lowering vehicle
Auto Lift Safety Sign
OSHA has launched a local emphasis program in Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa that will focus on injuries and fatalaties associated with automotive lifts. If significant problems are found, it's reasonable to assume the program would be expanded to other regions.

OSHA compliance offices will begin conducting inspections to identify and evaluate hazards of lifts used in the automotive industry. Inspections will be conducted at randomly selected sites in general operations within targeted industries, such as: automobile dealers; automotive repair and maintenance shops; gasoline stations; and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores. In addition, OSHA will respond to complaints, referrals and fatalities related to operations where automotive lifts are used.

"Workers in the automotive industry are exposed to crushing hazards from automotive lifts when servicing and repairing vehicles," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Regional Administrator in the West. "These hazardous risks can be limited by properly maintaining automotive lifts and providing workers with effective training regarding inspection and use of lifts."

July 9, 2013

July Workplace Safety News and Notes

New Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Fact Sheet from OSHA.
A new OSHA Fact Sheet describes common elements of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and how to implement them. Such programs allow employers to find and fix workplace hazards on an ongoing basis before workers are hurt or become ill. The fact sheet explains elements of an effective program: include management leadership; worker participation; hazard identification, assessment, prevention and control; education and training and program evaluation and improvement. Download the fact sheet here (pdf) or visit the Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page for more information.

OSHA Webinar on Protecting Temporary Workers - July 18.
OSHA will co-moderate a webinar with the American Staffing Association at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, July 18, to discuss best practices for protecting temporary workers. This is part of OSHA's new effort to protect temp workers, who generally suffer workplace injuries at higher rates than permanent workers. Register for the webinar here, or read more on the new OSHA initiative here.

New National Emphasis Program on Isocyanates.
Isocyanates commonly are used to produce polyurethane polymers, which are components of materials such as polyurethane foams, thermoplastic elastomers, spandex fibers and polyurethane paints. Isocyanate exposure can cause occupational asthma, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and cancer. Deaths have occurred. The 3-year OSHA program will focus on general workplaces, construction and maritime industries that use isocyanate compounds. Read more about the emphasis program here, or visit the OSHA isocyanates page here.

OSHA and Canada to Align Hazardous Communication Standards.
OSHA and the Department of Health of Canada will collaborate on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling in their respective jurisdictions, as well as any future developments of the GHS. Under the agreement, OSHA and HECS will work together to reduce barriers between the systems responsible for workplace chemical safety, and collaborate to reach common ground on proposed updates to the system, among other goals. Read a news release here.

July 8, 2013

Safety Tip: Resources to Prevent Heat Illness

Exposure to heat can cause illness and death - and illness-inducing temperatures may be lower than you think. The OSHA heat illness website provides many helpful resources for combating heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and more. Here are some heat-illness tips and resource links:

Risk Factors for Heat Illness: 
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion sign
Heat Exhaustion Safety Sign

• High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
• Low liquid intake
• Heavy physical labor
• Waterproof clothing
• No recent exposure to hot workplaces

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
• Headache, dizziness, or fainting
• Weakness and wet skin
• Irritability or confusion
• Thirst, nausea, or vomiting

Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
• May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures (fits)

Heat Safety Resources:
The OSHA Heat Illness website has a variety of resources and links to help protect workers, including a new heat safety app, as well as:
• Fact Sheets
• Worksite Posters
• Employer Training Guides
• Heat Stress QuickCard
• Wallet Card with QR Code
• Links to Washington- and California-specific heat illness materials

New OSHA Grain Worker Safety Initiative

OSHA has developed a new Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities in response to the high number of recent grain handling deaths. In 2010, 51 workers were engulfed by grain stored in bins, and 26 died - the highest number on record. It takes just 5 seconds for a worker to become engulfed in flowing grain, and 60 seconds to submerge. More than half of grain engulfments result in suffocation deaths.

STOP sign grain worker safety posterOSHA is now working directly with grain and agricultural groups to educate employers and workers about the unique hazards of grain handling, and to find ways to prevent deaths and injuries. OSHA also developed a Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities focusing on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards.

"This alliance is an opportunity for OSHA to work together with the grain and agricultural industries and the agricultural community to train employers and workers about the unique hazards of the grain and feed industry," said Nick Walters, OSHA Regional Administrator for six Midwestern states. "Through training, decals, brochures, websites, and other means of information communication, we will continue to work to improve awareness of these hazards and the safety and health of workers on farms and in grain handling facilities. We are committed to preventing the injuries and deaths that have been too frequent in the industry in recent years."

OSHA and state grain and feed associations developed a stop sign decal for grain bin doors to remind entrants to protect themselves from potential hazards.

The Grain Handling Safety Coalition (GHSC) provides training materials to train farmers, commercial grain handling employees, youth and rescue workers. There are five different safety topics available including an overview of grain handling and storage safety, grain bin entry as well as entanglement, fall and confined space hazards. GHSC also offers "Train the Trainer" courses for companies and communities to have a local resource for training.

July 6, 2013

Younger Workers and the Mistakes They Make

hard hat label for safe workers
Safe Worker Hard Hat Labels
Promote Safety Awareness
Young workers are often strong, energetic, eager, and much smarter than those “old guys” around them - or so they think. But experienced workers know it’s not unusual for younger workers to be injured on the job during their first few months. As their supervisors, we need to help them understand the safety culture, and encourage them to take responsibility for their own safety.

A knowledgeable and attentive supervisor is the best ally for a young worker. Effective supervision involves more than simply monitoring a worker and providing discipline. The supervisor should ensure that every worker under his or her direction understands the company’s safety culture and is aware of the hazards of the tasks they will perform. Some employers operate formal mentoring programs in which new workers are paired with veteran employees. The older worker takes on the responsibility of training the new counterpart in the safe performance of tasks, monitors his or her performance, and provides friendly correction as needed.

The safety experts at Safety Management Group have written an article that explains factors behind the injury rates, why hazards aren't so obvious to young workers, and shares ideas on what you can do to help keep them safe on your worksite. Check out the full article here, or browse hard hat labels here.

July 5, 2013

New Commercial Driver Hours of Service Rules Now in Effect

Truck safety sign - Caution Wide Right Turns
Wide Turn Safety Sign
On July 1, new DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours of service rules went into effect. Although lawsuits are pending on the new rules, FMCSA implemented the rules before the cases are decided. The rules were first announced in late 2011. The new rules:
  • Limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, down from the previous maximum of 82 hours.
  • Allow truck drivers who reach 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights from the hours of 1 to 5 a.m.
  • Require truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
  • Retain the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.
FMCSA says companies and drivers who commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.