Effort to reduce retail injuries and fatalities

Supermarket ShopperOSHA is launching a local emphasis program to prevent retail sector injuries and fatalities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. The retail industry experienced 262 fatal occupational injuries in 2012. The injury and illness case rate for retail workers, including in the Pacific, was four per 100 full-time workers, compared with a 3.4 rate for all other private sector employees during the same period.

“We are not in the business of waiting to act only after a preventable injury or fatality occurs. Retail employers and workers need to be aware of hazards and risks commonly found in this industry,” said Mike Rivera, acting area director of OSHA’s Honolulu Area Office. “Stores must be safe for customers to shop and for employees to work.”

OSHA will conduct inspections to identify and evaluate hazards within the retail industry in Hawaii and the Pacific islands and territories. Targeted operation sites, such as clothing stores, department stores, general merchandise stores and other miscellaneous retailers, can expect random inspections. OSHA also will respond to complaints, referrals and fatalities related to retail operations.

Federal OSHA inspections at retail stores in the Pacific routinely find numerous safety or health hazards that result in serious violations. Cited safety and health violations generally relate to electrical hazards, unsafe merchandise handling, transportation hazards, fire hazards, exposure to harmful substances, or improper design, construction and maintenance of exit routes. Violations also relate to hazards that, if left unchecked can lead to falls, slips and trips, struck-by objects or amputations.

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Commonwealth of Kentucky Labor Cabinet

1047 US 127 SOUTH


          Steven L. Beshear, Governor                              Larry L. Roberts, Secretary    

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Urges Awareness of Fall Hazards

Warmer weather means increased numbers of injuries, deaths from falls

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 21, 2014) – With warmer weather comes an increase in Kentucky’s workplace deaths and injuries due to falls. Falls are the most common fatal hazard in the construction industry, accounting for nearly half the construction deaths in Kentucky from 2011 to present.

“Falls are the top cause of construction deaths,” said Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts. “With proper training and equipment use, we can minimize the tragedies that happen all too frequently in the Commonwealth.”

The Labor Cabinet is working in conjunction with Federal OSHA’s efforts to raise awareness for fall prevention. Each year in the U.S., falls kill more than 200 construction workers and seriously injure 10,000 more. For information on the national initiative, visit www.osha.gov/stopfalls. For more details on fall prevention, please visit www.stopconstructionfalls.com.

The U.S. Department of Labor has also called for a national safety stand-down from June 2 to 6 to raise awareness among employers and workers about the hazards of falls. For suggestions on how to prepare for a stand down, click here.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet reviewed all deaths in the construction industry in Kentucky from a time frame of 2011 to present. The Labor Cabinet found that 21 construction workers died from workplace hazards in that period, with nine deaths resulting from falls, eight deaths from workers being struck by an object, three from electrocution and one from hyperthermia.

In addition to the nine construction fall deaths, there were six other workplace deaths that resulted from falling. Three of those deaths were in the landscaping services industry.

The workplace deaths in this study refer only to those related to Kentucky OSH enforcement activities and voluntary compliance services, which are extended to both the public and private sectors in Kentucky with the exception of employees of the federal government and employers under the authority of federal agencies other than OSHA, such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration or the Federal Railroad Administration. Federal OSHA retains jurisdiction in Kentucky for private sector maritime activities as well as for Tennessee Valley Authority employment, military bases, and other properties ceded to the U.S. government.

In an effort to increase safety and health in the workplace, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet co-hosts the annual Governor’s Safety and Health Conference and Exposition in conjunction with the Kentucky Safety and Health Network Inc., a nonprofit organization representing individuals from all facets of Kentucky’s workplaces.

The 30th Annual Governor’s Safety and Health Conference and Exposition will take place May 6-9, 2014, at the Galt House in Louisville. The conference will feature pre-conference courses along with general sessions with outstanding keynote speakers, and concurrent workshops focusing on state of the art techniques, current issues and trends in workplace safety and health.

An extensive training on fall protection will be included in the conference for the first time this year. This new class will include a three-hour classroom session along with a three-hour hands-on practicum with a climbing tower.

For more information on the Governor’s Safety and Health Conference, please visit www.kshn.net.

The conference is in line with Gov. Steve Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow in February as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative significantly to reduce incidents and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.

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The Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s primary responsibility is to ensure that divisions and offices falling under the auspices of the Cabinet work within the jurisdiction of Kentucky labor law to ensure equitable and fair treatment of the Commonwealth’s more than 1.9 million wage-earning employees. The Cabinet, according to regulation, has the duties, responsibilities, power, and authority relating to labor, wage and hour issues, occupational safety and health of employees, child labor, apprenticeship, workers’ compensation insurance, and all other matters under the jurisdiction of the Labor Cabinet. For more information, visit www.labor.ky.gov.

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Burrows Paper faces $298,100 in proposed fines from OSHA

iStock_000017378933XSmallSYRACUSE, N.Y. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Burrows Paper Corp., based in Little Falls, for repeat and serious safety violations at two of the company’s work sites. Burrows faces $298,100 in proposed fines following inspections by OSHA’s Syracuse Area Office.

“The proposed fines reflect both the gravity of the cited hazards and the employer’s refusal to use required safeguards,” said Chris Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “Workers could have been injured in falls, electrocuted or suffered other injuries because of the employer’s repeated failure to ensure a safe workplace.”

The inspections were initiated as part of OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting inspection plan. The inspections were conducted because the company’s injury and illness rates exceeded national incident rates for 2009 and 2010. Burrows is a food grade paper and packaging manufacturer that has five paper machines in four mills located in New York and Mississippi. It employs approximately 700 workers.

During the inspection of the company’s Mohawk Valley Mill at 489 West Main St., OSHA inspectors found three serious safety violations for stairways that lacked railings; papermaking machines that lacked guarding to prevent employee contact with their moving parts; and an electrical hazard related to the use of electrical equipment not approved for the location. Additionally, inspectors identified six repeat violations for safety hazards related to falls, lack of eyewash stations and additional machine guarding and electrical hazards.

The inspection of the East Mill at 730 E. Mill St. found two serious safety violations for exposure to combustible paper dust, electrical issues and a malfunctioning exit light. Additionally, it identified found four repeat safety violations for machines with insufficient guarding.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA had previously cited Burrows in 2010 and 2011 for similar hazards at locations in Little Falls and Lyons Falls. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Burrows has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The citations can be viewed at http://go.usa.gov/kCSB* and http://go.usa.gov/kCSQ*.

Posted in Electrical, Exit Routes, Fall Protection, Machine Safety, Slips/Trips/Falls | Tagged , | Leave a comment

OSHA fines Precision Custom Coatings LLC $185,400 for willful and repeat violations

e-stopTOTOWA, N.J. – Following two workplace incidents leaving one machine operator’s hand crushed and another with a partial hand amputation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Precision Custom Coatings LLC for one willful, one repeat and 12 serious safety violations, including failure to provide required machine guarding, at the company’s fabric manufacturing facility in Totowa.

OSHA’s investigation began in September 2013 in response to a referral from the Totowa Police Department after a machine operator’s hand was crushed while moving materials through a roller machine. During the investigation, OSHA was contacted about another incident where an employee suffered a partial hand amputation while performing machine maintenance. Proposed penalties total $185,400.

“With the proper machine guarding in place, this company could have prevented these needless, life-altering injuries,” said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. “Employers are responsible for eliminating or controlling hazards when the operation of a machine or accidental contact could injure the operator or others. This employer’s failure to do so created catastrophic consequences.”

The willful violation, with a $70,000 penalty, reflects the company’s failure to use danger tags and proper guards on machinery to warn and protect employees from burn hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The repeat violation, with a $38,500 penalty, was due to a lack of machine guarding to protect operators from hazards created by ingoing nip points and rotating parts. The company was cited for the same violation in December 2011. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Carrying a $76,900 penalty, the serious violations include:

  • Lack of a midrail on an aerial lift work platform.
  • Lack of standard railings on an open-sided platform more than 4 feet above a lower level.
  • Liquefied petroleum gas containers not stored properly.
  • Lack of danger tags to warn of burn hazards on dry can rollers.
  • Inadequate lockout/tagout procedures and training for controlling hazardous energy.
  • Lack of training for employees operating powered industrial trucks.
  • Powered industrial truck left unattended with elevated forks.
  • Lack of guards for rotating shafts and portable grinder.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

“A first step toward preventing such hazards is for an employer to develop and implement an illness and injury prevention program where management and workers proactively identify and eliminate hazardous conditions,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PrecisionCustomCoatingLLC_942873_0326_14.pdf*.

Precision Custom Coatings has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director in Hasbrouck Heights, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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by Dwayne Towles

Acute pain in a woman Finger.Scenario: You have an employee dislocate their finger at work.  You send her to an occupational medicine clinic.  While at the clinic, the physician performs a closed reduction procedure on her dislocated finger. It was determined that the employee had no broken bones, splints were not necessary, did not receive any medication, no restrictions were issued, and she returned to work immediately after the reduction procedure was performed on her finger.

Medical Note:  Closed Reduction Procedure Explained – A dislocated finger can be corrected with or without injecting local anesthesia. To correct the dislocation, the doctor will press against the displaced bone to dislodge the bone if it is caught against the side of the joint. As the end of the bone is freed, the doctor can pull outward to restore the bone to its correct position. This is called closed reduction.

Based on the fact that employee had no broken bones, no medication, no splints, and no restrictions and she returned to work immediately after the reduction procedure was performed, you determine this falls under first aid treatment and is not an OSHA recordable.

Question:  Did you make the right decision?

Answer:  In an OSHA Letter of Interpretation dated June 26, 2013 to Ms. Brandi Behrnes with John L. Lowery & Associates, Inc., OSHA states “reduction is the care of a disorder not included on the first aid list under 1904.7(b)(5) and therefore it is considered medical treatment for OSHA recordkeeping purposes”.

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Website Provides Free, Read-Only Access

3D small people - an engineer with the laptopThe American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has launched an online tool for free, read-only access to voluntary consensus standards that have been incorporated by reference (IBR) into federal laws and regulations. In recent years, issues related to IBR have commanded increased attention, particularly in connection to requirements that standards that have been incorporated into federal laws and regulations be “reasonably available” to the U.S. citizens and residents affected by these rules.

Currently, the portal provides access to standards from 13 domestic and international groups, including the International Organization for Standardization and the American Welding Society.  The program is designed to prevent users from downloading, printing or taking screenshots of the material.

For more information on this valuable resource, visit the portal at ibr.ansi.org.

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Federal OSHA telling Arizona Their Residential Fall Protection Regulations Don’t Go Far Enough

iStock_000017937891SmallOn March 19, 2014, OSHA sent a letter to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, stating that OSHA does not believe that Arizona’s residential fall protection standards are at least as effective as federal OSHA standards. ADOSH has until April 18, 2014 to show how it will correct the outlined deficiencies or otherwise “show cause” as to why their standard is at least as effective as federal OSHA’s. Should the state fail to satisfy OSHA’s concerns, OSHA will move forward with a process that could eventually lead to the federal government taking over enforcement jurisdiction of Arizona’s construction sector.

OSHA has several concerns with Arizona’s residential fall protection standard, but most notably that it requires very limited conventional fall protection for workers working between 6 and 15 feet. Generally, OSHA requires the use of conventional fall protection at a height of 6 feet and above.

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction, and OSHA’s obligation is to protect construction workers by ensuring that Arizona has and enforces a standard that is at least as effective as OSHA’s. In discussions with Arizona officials over the past months, OSHA has indicated a strong preference for working collaboratively with Arizona to make the necessary changes to its legislation and statute so that the State Plan provides the requisite level of protection to workers, without the need for federal enforcement intervention.

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Construction worker holding blank signMSHA News Release: [04/03/2014]
Contact Name: Lauren North
Phone Number: (202) 693-4655
Release Number: 14-0539-NAT

MSHA issues guidance on implementing effective corrective action programs

copper mineARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today issued a Program Information Bulletin reminding the mining community of the process for submitting a corrective action program for MSHA approval and the tools MSHA makes available to assist mine operators in monitoring compliance.

The purpose of a CAP is to establish and implement corrective actions at a mine to reduce significant and substantial violations that could lead to pattern of violations sanctions. A CAP must: contain concrete, meaningful measures to reduce S&S violations; be specifically tailored to the mine’s compliance problems; and contain achievable benchmarks and milestones for implementation. These programs must be submitted to the agency for approval.

Mine operators are encouraged to develop and implement CAPs prior to meeting the POV screening criteria. Mines that meet the POV screening criteria and lack mitigating circumstances are subject to sanctions under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 for demonstrating a disregard for miners’ health and safety through a pattern of S&S violations.

In January 2013, MSHA published a final rule revising the agency’s pattern of violations rule. According to the preamble to the rule, mine operators approaching POV status have the opportunity to implement a CAP, and MSHA considers a mine operator’s effective implementation of an approved CAP as a mitigating circumstance in determining whether to issue a POV notice.

In accordance with Section 104(e)(1) of the Mine Act, once a mine operator receives a POV notice, for each subsequent S&S violation MSHA will issue an order withdrawing miners from the affected area until the cited condition has been corrected. MSHA will terminate an operator’s POV notice if no withdrawal order for an S&S violation is issued by the agency within 90 days of the issuance of the POV notice, or when an inspection of the entire mine is completed and no S&S violations are found.

“Mine operators should closely track their violation and injury histories,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Developing and implementing an effective corrective action program that reduces significant and substantial violations puts a mine on track to make the workplace safer and healthier for miners.”

MSHA’s online POV monitoring tool is available to assist operators in tracking their violation and injury histories against the POV screening criteria. MSHA stresses that operators should not rely on the monitoring tool exclusively and be proactive in monitoring their violation, accident and injury histories to determine if they are approaching the POV screening criteria. An S&S rate calculator is also available to assist operators in determining if a mine is meeting the goals set forth in its CAP.

“As our guidance explains, these tools are evaluation aids. Ultimately, mine operators are responsible for monitoring compliance, determining whether they are close to meeting the POV screening criteria and taking corrective actions,” said Main. MSHA updates the POV monitoring tool on or about the 15th of each month. However, operators should not wait for violations or injuries to appear in this program before considering the implementation of a CAP. MSHA conducts POV screening at least once each year.

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Olivet Management faces $2.3M in OSHA fines for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos and lead during renovation of former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in New York

iStock_000001167898SmallWASHINGTON – Olivet Management LLC, a real estate development and management company that owns the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in the Wingdale section of Dover Plains, N.Y., faces a total of $2,359,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company has been cited for exposing its own employees, as well as employees for 13 contractors, to asbestos* and lead* hazards during cleanup operations in preparation for a tour of the site by potential investors.

“Olivet knew that asbestos and lead were present at this site, yet the company chose to ignore its responsibility to protect its own workers and contractors,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The intolerable choice this company made put not only workers, but also their families, in danger.”

An inspection by OSHA’s Albany Area Office conducted in response to a complaint began Oct. 23, 2013. The inspection found that Olivet employees and contractors were exposed to asbestos and lead while performing renovation and cleanup activities. The work, which was directed and overseen by Olivet supervisors, included removing: asbestos- and lead-contaminated debris; asbestos-containing floor tiles and insulation; and lead-containing paint from walls, windows, door frames and other painted surfaces.

OSHA determined that Olivet knowingly failed to take basic safety precautions. The company neither informed their own employees nor the contractors about the presence of asbestos and lead, despite knowing that both hazards existed. As a result, Olivet did not: train employees in the hazards of asbestos and lead and the need and nature of required safeguards; monitor workers’ exposure levels; provide appropriate respiratory protection; post notices, warning signs and labels to alert workers and contractors to the presence of asbestos and lead. The company also did not provide clean changing and decontamination areas for workers, many of whom wore their contaminated clothing home to households with small children.

As a result of these conditions, Olivet was cited for 45 willful violations, with $2,352,000 in proposed fines. Twenty-four of the willful citations address instance-by-instance exposure of workers to asbestos and lead hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health. Olivet was also issued one serious citation, with a $7,000 fine, for failing to inform waste haulers of the presence of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials, meaning asbestos from the site may have been disposed of improperly at an unknown location. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/OlivetManagementLLC945519.pdf*.

Renovation and cleanup activities can generate airborne concentrations of asbestos and lead. Workers can be exposed to both through inhalation or ingestion. Exposure to asbestos can cause disabling or fatal diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and gastrointestinal cancer. While lead exposure can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys, blood forming organs, and reproductive system. Detailed information on asbestos and lead hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html and http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/lead/index.html respectively.

In January of this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration ordered Olivet to stop all work that could disturb asbestos at the facility. EPA’s investigation is ongoing.

Olivet has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

Due to the willful violations found at the site, Olivet has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities or job sites.

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by Whitney Martin

Russ Lazzell had been with FreightCar America, Inc. less than 6 months when he decided to do an Employee Safety Perception Survey. He was the first Director of Safety the company had hired (previously, safety was managed by each individual facility) and he could see right away that it was going to be an uphill battle. During the first six months of 2012, the company was at a 13.2% recordable incident rate. During the last six months of that year—after conducting the Safety Perception Survey—they were down to a 4.5% rate. Mr. Lazzell feels the survey played a key role in this success by:

  • Giving employees more ownership in the safety program
  • Giving him ammunition to go to company leadership with, to gain their support and commitment to the safety initiatives he was proposing
  • And, by validating his thoughts on what needed to change, and helping him prioritize his plan of attack.

What is a Safety Perception Survey?

Perception SurveyA safety perception survey (SPS) is designed to measures the safety culture in an organization. The term “safety culture” was first used in reference to the Chernobyl disaster, and later in the context of the Challenger and Columbia shuttle explosions, the King’s Cross underground fire in London, and the Continental 2574 crash in 1991. The Advisory Committee on Safety in Nuclear Installations (ACSNI) defined the term as “The product of individual and group values, attitudes, beliefs, competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety management.”

It is a pretty powerful statement to say that disasters such as Chernobyl and The Challenger explosion were not primarily due to a system failure or a freak human error—they were primarily caused by an underlying pattern of values, attitudes, and beliefs that demonstrated an overall lack of commitment to safety.  A SPS measures employee values, beliefs, and attitudes that drive behavior. It is a proactive measure of safety that allows you to identify the state of safety within the workplace without having to wait for the system to fail.

Why Conduct a Safety Perception Survey?

First, what you measure send a message (both internally and externally) about what you think is important. In most organizations, the C-Suite measures things like profit, market share, and customer satisfaction: measures of success. In safety, however, we most often rely on lagging indicators such as accidents and lost time. These are measures of failure and are fraught with issues. The famous safety consultant Dan Peterson once said, “of course you can use frequency-severity figures to measure your firm’s safety program, as long as you realize that in almost all instances these figures are absolutely worthless.” Conducting a SPS sends a message (to employees, as well as shareholders, customers, regulatory agencies, and insurance carriers) that your company is committed to proactively measuring safety success (rather than failure).

Next, conducting a SPS creates alignment and engagement. Do employees buy-in to your safety messages and practices? Do they truly take ownership of their own safety and that of their coworkers? As a result, do they practice safe behavior (even when you’re not looking) because they accurately perceive the risks and actually believe that adhering to your safety program is an effective way to avoid injury? Giving employees an opportunity to provide feedback and have input into your organization’s safety practices is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page and working for the same team.

And third, conducting a SPS can have a significant bottom-line impact. Not just in terms of reduced workers comp premiums and OSHA fines, but also because the data obtained in the survey allows you to create targeted, strategic, and efficient action plans. This means that interventions are willingly adopted by employees, and that time and money is spent on implementing the initiatives that will have the biggest impact.  Implementing measures to guide work practices, machinery, behaviors, processes, etc., can only go so far in preventing injuries. A strong safety culture is necessary for any of those efforts to flourish.

How They Did It at FreightCar America – An Interview with Russ Lazzell

“We gave the employees an opportunity to write in their own comments. I had never done that before, and it worked out fantastic for us because we had a lot of good comments written in—I believe the percentage was like 70% of the employees had written-in comments. So they weren’t just going through and pencil whipping the actual survey (coloring in the dots) because they had comments on the back.

We set up in group meetings of about 50-60 employees (depending on the size of the shop). We brought them in, we gave them an hour to do the survey. We explained up front what we were doing, why we were doing it, to be very open, very honest in your comments and don’t hold back. There’s no names on this survey, so no one’s going to know who filled the survey out, if you’ve got a comment on there about a specific supervisor or something like that, more than willingly, put it on there because nobody’s going to know who put it on there.”

Read Whitney’s full article and interview here.

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