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A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ComplianceSigns.com

December 23, 2013

Illinois Bans Handheld Devices for All Drivers Starting January 1

hands free only in Illinois
Illinois Hands-Free Device Sign
An Illinois law prohibiting driving while using handheld cell phones and similar electronic communications devices goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014. The law allows hands-free devices.

House Bill 1247 prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle on any road in Illinois while using a mobile phone or other electronic communication device. The bill makes exceptions for two-way radios and hands-free devices, including those with headsets that can initiate a call using a single button or a voice command. Fines for first offenses are set at $75. For subsequent violations the fines are $100, $125 and $150.

Related to the new hands-free law, House Bill 2585 increases penalties that can be imposed on drivers whose use of an electronic device while driving causes an accident. If the accident causes great bodily harm, the driver can be sentenced to up to one year in prison, and a fatal accident can result in a prison sentence of one to three years. Current law only allows these drivers to be charged with traffic violations.

ComplianceSigns.com, based in Chadwick, IL, has developed a variety of signs and labels to remind Illinois drivers of the new law. Options include post- and surface-mount signs, self-adhesive labels and clear stickers to mount on vehicle windows.

December 20, 2013

Top 13 Workplace Safety Articles of 2013

One of our business goals is to provide resources and information to help make your workplace safer, and your job a little easier. These were the 13 most popular articles on the CONNECTION blog in 2013. Use the link in each title to read more:

1. Chemical Advisory on Ammonium Nitrate Issued by OSHA, EPA and ATF

The September advisory addresses hazards associated with solid ammonium nitrate storage, handling and management. This advisory contains information on:
  • Recent and past accidents involving AMMONIUM NITRATE (AN)
  • AN hazards and management
  • Appropriate steps for community emergency planning and proper emergency response.
2. Free Reference Card Compares NFPA 704 Diamond and OSHA GHS labels
OSHA and NFPA worked together to develop a “Quick Card” showing the differences between the the NFPA and GHS hazard identification systems. OSHA does not necessarily see a conflict between HCS and NFPA 704. OSHA has indicated that the GHS numbers are not relative ratings of hazards but are used for the purpose of classifying hazards into categories for proper labeling and training information.
OSHA launched two new web resources to help companies keep workers safe from potentially dangerous chemicals:
  • Transitioning to Safer Chemicals is a toolkit to help businesses eliminate or reduce hazardous chemicals. The toolkit includes methods, tools and guidance to eliminate hazardous chemicals or find substitutions. 
  • Permissible Exposure Limits – Annotated Tables presents existing Z-Tables with other selected occupational exposure limits, and includes side-by-side comparisons.

December 14, 2013

OSHA Local Emphasis Program Targets Hazardous Chemicals in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri

NFPA, EPA labelsOSHA has launched a local emphasis program in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri for programmed health inspections of industries known to use hazardous chemicals and who have reported release of such chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The emphasis program will focus on industrial sites that are known to have released EPA-monitored hazardous chemicals. Industries will be selected for inspection based on site-specific chemical release data from the EPA's TRI Explorer database, which lists industry establishments that have released chemical quantities equal to or exceeding 100,000 pounds. Chemicals reported to the EPA that have been released into the environment include ammonia; barium, chromium and copper compounds; hydrochloric acid; hydrogen fluoride; lead and manganese compounds; N-hexane; styrene; sulfuric acid; and nitrate, vanadium and zinc compounds.

OSHA has created a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. 


December 13, 2013

Top November 2013 OSHA Fines Exceed $3 Million


OSHA issued 13 6-figure citations with a total proposed value topping $3.1 million in November. Whistleblower and construction citations were common. Here are some details of the cases. Most are still pending final decisions.

$1,070,123 for firing whistleblowers at a North Carolina trucking company

    Caution This Vehicle Makes Wide Turns
  • A whistleblower complaint alleged that four truck drivers were terminated for participating in an inspection audit of the company facilities, which was conducted by the DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. From Feb. 28 through March 1, 2012, the four employees were interviewed on-site by the FMCSA. On March 8, following the audit and subsequent citations issued against the company, the workers suffered adverse retaliation by company officials, including termination, layoffs and removal of employee benefits.
  • The order includes preliminary reinstatement of employees, back wages, interest, compensatory damages of $215,657 and punitive damages of $675,000. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

$313,000 for willful and serious safety violations following fatal June building collapse in Philadelphia

  • Safety violations include three willful per-instance violations following a building collapse that killed six people and injured 14. Demolition construction standards violations include egregious violations for leaving a wall without sufficient lateral support, and two willful violations alleging the failures to demolish the building from the top down and to have an engineering survey by a competent person on the possibility of collapse prior to starting the demolition. 
  • Serious violations included failure to provide: employees with hard hats when there was a possible risk of head injury; fall protection for employees working on surfaces at least six feet high; training on fall hazards; and adequate personal fall arrest systems; failure to inspect stairs and maintain them in a clean, safe condition; failing to protect employees from falling through holes and to provide fall hazard training.

December 5, 2013

OSHA Seeks Comments on Process Safety, Explosives, Spray Finishing and More

non-hazardous waste, universal waste
Hazardous Waste Labels
OSHA just announced a request for information seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard and related standards, as well as other policy options to prevent major chemical incidents.

The RFI is in response to executive order 13650, which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas, tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion.

OSHA is asking for comments on these standards: