Fourth time tank cleaner failed to address dangerous confined space hazards

DSC00040An air quality test and harnesses properly tethered to a lifeline for rescue might have prevented tragedy for three workers overcome by a lack of oxygen inside a rail tanker in October 2015 in New Orleans, federal workplace safety and health investigators have determined.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found Dedicated TCS LLC failed to test the atmosphere inside the tanker before the three employers entered the tank and to mandate that the workers attach a lifeline to their harnesses to allow a rescue. One of the workers died and other two were hospitalized in the incident.

OSHA has cited Dedicated TCS for the same confined space violations three times before at its locations in Illinois. In April 2012, the agency issued eight serious violations at the company’s location in Channahon. In May 2012, inspectors found nine serious and two willful violations at its Lansing location. In July 2014, an investigation in Channahon found four serious and seven repeat violations.

Dedicated TCS LLC, a tank cleaning service with about 55 employees in Louisiana and Illinois, faces $226,310 in fines for two willful, three repeat, and four serious violations for exposing workers to hazardous health conditions in New Orleans.

Willful violations include failing to test atmospheric conditions within a confined space before allowing workers to enter and failing to evaluate a rescuer’s ability to respond in a timely manner and function appropriately while rescuing entrants from confined spaces.

Serious violations include failing to have a complete respiratory protection program and to medically evaluate and fit test employees before allowing them to use respirators.

Repeat violations include failing to take all necessary steps to guarantee safe entry into a confined space, failing to provide fixed points or mechanical devices for retrieving workers from a permit-required space, and failing to verify and check appropriate entry conditions on a permit before letting workers enter a confined space.

“Dedicated TCS continues to ignore crucial safety procedures for . This is the fourth time OSHA has found this employer in violation of federal safety standards,” said Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge. “Sadly, the company’s inaction has cost a man his life.”

Link to citations for Dedicated TCS: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/DedicatedTCSLLC_1098071.pdf*

 

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by David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM

Previously, we discussed silica as a mineral – where it’s found and the industries most likely to be affected by the new OSHA silica standard.  As a quick review, we discussed that silica is a naturally-occurring mineral commonly found in quartz, sand, and sand-type products including mortar, grout, and cement.  We also said that the real hazard with silica is the fine particles – the ones you can’t see.  These fine particles can get into your lungs and cause damage.

Before we get into specifics about the new silica standard, let’s answer some basic questions – sort of a silica FAQ.

Q:  Where do we usually find the silica that has the harmful dust?

A:  Mostly in concrete and masonry applications where there can be a lot of dust generated – mixing, sawing, drilling, hammering, etc.  It’s these types of activities that break down larger pieces into smaller particles (the fine dusts), and it’s these smaller particles that can get into the lungs and be harmful.  Additionally, these activities are common to construction which is why the new silica standard is targeted more to construction applications than general industry.

Q:  How do I know if my dry concrete or dry grout masonry mix contains silica?

A:  Silica will be listed as an ingredient on the Safety Data Sheet.  Additionally, the bag label should list silica on the label and have the warning symbol indicating a respiratory hazard.

silica warning symbol

Q:  If the concrete or grout contains silica, does that mean my employees are overexposed to silica?

A:  Not necessarily.  The truth is, there’s no way to correlate the amount of silica in a concrete mix or grout mixture with airborne silica exposure.  The amount of silica that’s in the air depends on how the powder is handled, how long it’s handled, the percentage of silica in the mix, etc.  However, we can say that if the concrete or grout mix contains silica, your workers could be overexposed.  The only way to absolutely determine if your workers are not overexposed is to conduct an exposure assessment.

Q:  If my concrete or grout does not list silica as an ingredient, does that mean that there’s no silica in it?

A:  Not necessarily.  It may mean that the amount of silica contained in the concrete or grout is below what is considered to be hazardous levels (0.1%) or the manufacturer may not know that the mixture contains silica, and consequently did not list silica on the Safety Data Sheet.

Q:  If I have silica in my mixes, do I need to do an exposure assessment?

A:  No.  You do not need to do an exposure assessment.  The new construction standard contains information (Table 1) which identifies specific tasks that, when completed according to the guidelines, will keep you in compliance without doing an assessment.

Q:  Is there a similar Table 1 for general industry?

A:  No.  But if you can obtain objective information (e.g., other exposure assessments), you may not need to conduct exposure assessments.

Q: If I have silica in my mixes and I want to do an exposure assessment, can I do this exposure assessment myself or do I need to have a professional do it?

A: Yes and No.  The sampling is relatively easy and you can do the sampling yourself, but you will need to send the samples to a laboratory for analysis.  There are lots of laboratories that can do silica analysis.

Q:  What is the cost for a silica analysis?

A: The cost for analysis is about $125 per sample, depending on the lab you use.  I’d recommend that you take at least two samples for comparison (more if possible – 6 samples is ideal).

In summary, if you are using anything that has concrete, grout, or cement-like material, you probably need to be thinking silica potential.  If you know you’re using silica-containing materials, then you probably need to be thinking exposure assessment or exposure control (Table 1 – Construction).  OSHA has published a fact sheet on the new silica rule for Construction and a separate fact sheet for General Industry.  Click HERE to view the Construction Fact Sheet and HERE for the General Industry Fact Sheet.

Next:  The OSHA Standard

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Recall - YTL International Drywall LifterRecall date:  April 20, 2016

Recall number:  16-149

Name of product:  Drywall lifts

Hazard:  The drywall lifts can fail during use causing the load of drywall to fall onto the lift operator, posing an injury hazard.

Description:  This recall involves YTL drywall lifts used for lifting sheets of drywall. The metal lifts are red, have three 30 inch legs with casters at the base, horizontal bars at the top to hold the drywall and a telescoping post that can extend vertically to a height of 11 feet using the manual crank. The recalled drywall lifts have a label on the vertical mast stating “PERFORMANCE BUILT,” “MUD BOSS” OR “150 LB. DRYWALL PANEL HOIST.”

Incidents/Injuries:  The firm has received two reports of the drywall lifts failing and dropping their load. No injuries have been reported.

Remedy:  Refund.  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled drywall lifts and contact YTL for a postage paid shipping label to ship them to YTL for a full refund

Consumer Contact:  YTL International toll-free at 888-723-6534 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or online at www.ytlinternational.com and click on Safety Recalls for more information.

Sold at:  Lowe’s, Menards and Orgill Inc. stores nationwide from January 2013 through January 2016 for about $250.

Importer(s):  YTL International, of Cerritos, California

Distributor(s):  YTL International, of Cerritos, California

Manufactured in:  China

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by David McGill, CIH, CSP, CHMM

The OSHA standard for  has just hit the street with an effective date of June 23, 2016.  The actual implementation date is June 2017 for construction and June 2018 for general industry.  There are some exceptions and caveats, but by and large, it’s June 2017 and June 2018.  I’ve been hearing water-cooler talk about the proposed standard for several years, but I didn’t want to post until things became official.  Well, things are now official.

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of the standard, let’s take a look at silica.  Silica is a naturally-occurring mineral used in many industrial applications and can be found in various common household products.  It can be synthesized (made in a lab) or mined.  There are many types and forms of silica; some are more harmful, some are less. Silica mining has enjoyed a boom in demand in recent years due to hydraulic fracking.

Crystalline silica is a special type that is particularly hazardous from a respiratory perspective.  You’ve undoubtedly seen (and touched) crystalline silica many times.  If you’ve been to a rock exhibit and seen the quartz rocks or geodes, you’ve seen crystalline silica.  You’ve also touched silica if you’ve taken a walk on the beach.  Yes – the sand on most beaches is silica.

So where’s the health problem, you ask?  Almost everyone has either handled a quartz rock or a geode, walked along a beach, or played in a sandbox and has lived to tell the story.  Although this is a true statement, it doesn’t tell the story about what’s going on with silica and the hazards with silica exposure.  As with most lung hazards (particle lung hazards in particular), the real hazard is with the fine particles – the ones you don’t see.  In this case, the particle size of concern is in the 10 micron (micrometer) diameter range or 10 thousandths of a millimeter in diameter.  This is about one thousand times smaller than what we can normally see.

As with most particles (e.g., asbestos, hexavalent chromium, lead, arsenic), it’s the fine particles that get in your lungs that cause the problem which is why you don’t have a concern with the beach sand or the rock exhibits – the particle size is too big.  It isn’t until we get down to the 10 micron size that there’s a health risk.  Particles this small make it to the lungs and cause a condition called silicosis.  Silicosis is a scarring of lung tissue due to the irritating effects of the micro fine silica fibers.  It’s sort of the silica version of asbestosis.  Particles bigger than 10 microns never make it to the lungs but get caught by our nose and throat.

Don’t worry, OSHA isn’t going to make you wear respirators on beaches or at the rock exhibit.  Their concern is the 2.3 million workers (of which 2 million are construction) exposed to the fine crystalline silica particles, and preventing the 100 annual deaths due to silica exposure.  Though the mortality rate of silica-related deaths has been reduced by 90% in the last 50 years1, 100 deaths per year is 100 more than necessary because it’s a 100% preventable.

Now you know what silica is, where it is, and the hazards of silica exposure.  The next topic we’ll explore is do you, as an employer, fall under this new standard?  From there, we’ll look at the nuts and bolts of the new OSHA standard – construction and general industry.  For most of us, I don’t think we’ll have a lot to do, but there may be some things we might want to take a closer look at.  From what I’ve read, construction will be more greatly impacted than general industry.

Next:  The At-Risk Industries

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Weekly Mortality and Morbidity Report, 2/13/15, Silicosis Mortality Trends and New Exposures to Respirable Silica – United States, 2001 – 2010.
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OSHA cites Sharpe Holdings in death of worker at Missouri dairy farm and places them in OSHA’s Severe Violator Program following 3rd fatality since 2012

OSHA InspectorFor the third time since 2012, federal OSHA investigators have cited Sharpe Holdings in the death of an employee. The most recent casualty was a 51-year-old equipment operator, who suffered serious head injuries after being ejected from the rear of a van on Sept. 26, 2015. He died the following day.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company did not provide safety belts, secure passenger seats or latch the rear doors of the van used on its La Belle cattle and dairy farm. OSHA issued one repeat and 17 serious safety violations to the company on Feb. 23 and placed it in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Sharpe Holdings is a repeat violator that knowingly refuses to follow basic safety procedures. Three people have died while working at this facility in the last five years. This latest tragedy could have been prevented by using common-sense safety devices,” said Mike Minicky, OSHA’s acting area director in St. Louis. “Safety is simply not a priority for Sharpe Holdings. OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect this employer to ensure workers are protected on the job.”

While investigating the fatality OSHA found:

  • Workers exposed to amputation and other serious injuries while servicing and maintaining various equipment including the creamery boiler and concrete mixing trucks because the company failed to develop and use procedures to prevent the unintentional startup of equipment.
  • Fans, shafts and other machinery lacked guards to prevent workers from contact with moving parts.
  • Multiple electrical hazards.
  • Confined space hazards.
  • Lack of respiratory protection.
  • No emergency eyewash stations where corrosives were present.
  • Air receiver safety valves were not inspected as required.

According to OSHA incidents like the September fatality occur all too frequently. In 2014, more than 1,800 U.S. workers died in transportation-related incidents, an average of 150 per month, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics*.

Bethel-based Sharpe Holdings has been inspected by OSHA seven times since September 2012. Those investigations include two other fatalities and a worker hospitalization.

  • On Sept. 1, 2014, a 35-year-old worker doing maintenance work on an overhead door’s pulleys died after he fell off a 12-foot ladder onto a concrete floor at the dairy farm. OSHA identified eight serious safety violations. The company contested those citations.
  • In October 2012, an auto mechanic at a company repair shop in La Belle died of complications during treatment for injuries inflicted when a tire rim struck him. The inspection resulting from that fatality found multiple violations of OSHA regulations.
  • In January 2015, a skid steer loaded struck a worker, resulting in his hospitalization. OSHA issued one serious violation for failing to instruct the operator in the safe operation. The company contested the citation.

Proposed penalties total $189,000. View citations here:
http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/osha/OSHA20160380.pdf

Sharpe Holdings employs about 300 workers at an array of businesses in northeast Missouri, including a dairy and creamery, farm, concrete plant, auto repair, welding shop, restaurants and lodging, a telecommunications company, graphic design firm and a convenience store.

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Wire manufacturer faces $124K in fines

OSHA InspectorSYRACUSE, N.Y. – Copper wire manufacturer Tecnofil Chenango SAC continues to expose workers at its Sherburne manufacturing plant to potential deadly or disabling injuries due to missing or inadequate safeguards for machines used in the manufacturing process, an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found.

OSHA cited the plant in 2013 for several hazards involving unguarded or inadequately guarded operating parts of machines. The latest inspection found numerous instances of new and recurring machine guarding hazards on die presses, saws, lathes and other machinery. Hazards included bypassing interlocks designed to stop machines from operating when their doors opened. A related hazard stemmed from not locking out machines’ power sources before changing dies or performing maintenance and not adequately training employees to do so.

“The breadth and recurring nature of these hazards is disturbing. The purpose of machine guarding is simple: to prevent any part of an employee’s body from coming in contact with a machine’s moving parts. This can result in such serious or fatal injuries as crushing, lacerations and amputations. Tecnofil Chenango must take prompt, effective and ongoing action to eliminate these hazards once and for all,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s Syracuse area director.

The latest inspection also found workers exposed to falls of up to 8 feet from unguarded work platforms, slipping and tripping hazards from floors littered with tools, machine parts, lubricants and coolants and electric shocks from ungrounded equipment.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited Tecnofil Chenango on February 11, 2016, for one willful, seven repeated and nine serious violations. Proposed fines total $124,740. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The citations can be viewed here.

Posted in Fall Protection, Lockout/Tagout, Machine Safety, OSHA, OSHA Inspections | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Employer faces $117K in fines

As the construction industry continues to grow, falls continue to be the leading cause of death.  Source: https://www.bls.gov.

As the construction industry continues to grow, falls continue to be the leading cause of death. Source: https://www.bls.gov.

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The life of a 53-year-old roofer who died after dropping 40 feet to the ground could have been saved if his employer had provided proper fall protection, the OSHA has found.

OSHA cited R&B Contractors LLC of Shandon for one willful, 11 serious and three other-than-serious safety citations on February 9th after the agency’s investigation into the man’s death at a commercial building site in Cincinnati on August 10, 2015.

Four of 10 fatalities in the construction industry in 2014 were the result of a deadly fall,” said Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “Falls are a leading cause of death for construction workers and can be prevented with proper fall protection. Yet another worker has died needlessly because his employer failed to protect his safety. This has to stop.”

OSHA investigators found the worker was installing a new commercial roof when he fell. No guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall prevention devices were in place at the time. In addition, OSHA determined R&B failed to:

  • Train workers about fall hazards.
  • Develop a safety and health program.
  • Designate a safety monitor.
  • Train powered industrial vehicle operators.
  • Record injuries and illnesses.

R&B faces proposed penalties of $116,900. View citations here.

To inform construction employers and workers, OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The site provides fact sheets, posters and videos on various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA requires employers to provide an effective form of fall protection when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

The agency’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda program. Begun in 2012, the campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use gear properly.

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Leading Cause Of Worker Death, Serious Injury In The Construction Industry

OSHA Stop Falls Stand-DownThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal safety agencies recently announced that they have designated May 2-6, 2016, for the 3rd National Safety Stand-Down. The event is a nationwide effort to remind and educate employers and workers in the construction industry of the serious dangers of falls – the cause of the highest number of industry deaths in the construction industry.

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Center for Construction Research and Training are leading the effort to encourage employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, demonstrations, and training on how to recognize hazards and prevent falls.

“Falls still kill far too many construction workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “While we regularly work with employers, industry groups and worker organizations on preventing falls and saving lives, the National Safety Stand-Down encourages all employers – from small businesses to large companies operating at many job sites – to be part of our effort to ensure every worker makes it to the end of their shift safely.”

More than four million workers participated in the National Safety Stand-Downs in 2014 and 2015, and OSHA expects thousands of employers across the nation to join the 2016 event. To guide their efforts, OSHA has developed the official National Safety Stand-Down web site with information on conducting a successful stand-down. After their events, employers are encouraged to provide feedback and will receive a personalized certificate of participation.

“In many workplaces, falls are a real and persistent hazard. Given the nature of the work, the construction industry sees the highest frequency of fall-related deaths and serious, sometimes debilitating injuries,” said Dr. John Howard, Director of NIOSH. “Since the effort began in 2014, the National Safety Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for both employers and workers to stop and take time in the workday to identify existing fall hazards, and then offer demonstrations and training to emphasize how to stay safe on the job.”

The National Safety Stand-Down in 2016 is part of OSHA’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign. Begun in 2012, the campaign was developed in partnership with the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda program. It provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to take steps to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for their workers, and train all employees in the proper use of that equipment. OSHA has also produced a brief video with more information about the 2016 Stand-Down in English and Spanish.

For more information on the success of last year’s Stand-Down, see the final data report. To learn how to partner with OSHA in this Stand-Down, visit http://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/. The page provides details on how to conduct a stand-down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. To learn more about preventing falls in construction visit http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/.

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Recall - Apple World Travel Adapter KitRecall date:  February 18, 2016

Recall number:  16-106

Name of product:  AC Adapter Kits and Plug Adapters

Hazard:  The two-prong wall plug adapters for Australia/New Zealand/Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe and Korea can break and expose the metal portion of the adapter, posing an electric shock risk.

Units:  About 814,000 (In addition, about 81,000 were sold in Canada)

Description:  This recall involves Apple World Travel Adapter Kits and wall plug adapters. The kits contain three-prong and two-prong AC wall plug adapters that fit different electrical outlets worldwide. The recalled adapters were made for use in Australia/New Zealand/Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe and Korea and were also sold with Mac computers and iOS devices. The wall plug adapters are white plastic with the following characteristics:

  • Australia/New Zealand/Argentina – flat angled blades
  • Brazil – round thin pins
  • Continental Europe – round thin pins, slightly slanted inward
  • Korea – round thick pins

Recalled wall plug adapters have either four or five letters or numbers, or no markings on the inside slot where the wall plug adapter attaches to the main power adapter. Redesigned adapters have a three-letter regional code in the slot (EUR, ARG, KOR, AUS or BRA).

Incidents/Injuries:  Apple has received 12 reports of wall plug adapters breaking and consumers receiving shocks overseas, including three reports of consumers who were medically evaluated and released. No reports of incidents or injuries were reported by U.S. consumers.

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled wall plug adapters and contact Apple for free replacement adapters.

Consumer Contact:  Apple at 800-275-2273 any time or online at www.apple.com and click on AC Wall Plug Adapter Recall Program for more information.

Sold at:  Apple stores and other home electronics stores, and online at Apple.com from January 2003 through January 2015 for about $30.

Importers(s):  Apple, of Cupertino, California

Manufactured in:  China

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Recall - Eurotech Lume Office ChairRecall date:  February 18, 2016

Recall number:  16-107

Name of product: Eurotech Lume office chairs

Hazard: The chair seat can detach, posing a fall hazard to consumers

Description:  This recall involves Eurotech Lume office chairs. The black, mesh mid-back, adjustable chairs have a black base with five wheels. Item number MF2500 and the date of manufacture in YY/MM/DD format are printed on a label located on the underside of the seat. Dates of manufacture included in the recall are between 14/10/08 and 15/10/16.

Recall - Eurotech Lume Office Chair (2)Incidents/Injuries:  None

Remedy:  Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled chairs and contact Raynor to receive a full refund.

Consumer Contact:  Raynor toll-free at 866-800-1377 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.eurotechseating.com and click on Warranties at the bottom right hand corner of the page and then on the Lume Chair Recall link for more information.

Sold at:  Davies Office in New York and Office Furniture Depot stores in New Jersey and by other independent distributors from January 2015 through November 2015 for about $300.

Importer(s):  Raynor Marketing, LTD, of West Hempstead, N.Y.

Distributor(s):  Raynor Marketing, LTD, of West Hempstead, N.Y.

Manufactured in:  China

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