Don’t Forget!

New injury reporting requirements effective Jan. 1

Up until now, employers had to report the following events to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities
  • All work-related hospitalizations of three or more employees

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, employers will be required to report these events:

  • All work-related fatalities
  • All work-related in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees
  • All work-related amputations
  • All work-related losses of an eye

Employers must report a work-related fatality within 8 hours of finding out about it.

For any in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss, employers must report the incident within 24 hours of learning about it.

Only fatalities occurring within 30 days of the work-related event must be reported to OSHA. Further, for an inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, incidents must be reported to OSHA only if they occur within 24 hours of the work-related event.

Employers have three options for reporting an incident:

  1. Call the nearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours.
  2. Call he 24-hour OSHA hotline: 1.800.321.6742).
  3. OSHA is developing a new means of reporting events electronically, which will be released soon and accessible on the agency’s website.

More information and video

 

Workers at Freight Facility Exposed to Deadly Hazards

Company faces $330,800 in OSHA fines

Employees at the Central Transport LLC freight shipping terminal in Billerica, Mass., were exposed to electrocution, falls, crushing and other injuries due to their employer’s knowing and repeated disregard for basic worker safeguards, OSHA has found. The company faces $330,800 in fines for these hazards.

“Several hazards were brought to management’s attention, but the company took no corrective action, while other conditions were strikingly similar to violations for which Central Transport was previously cited at its locations in Illinois and Mississippi. The cited conditions put employees at risk of deadly or disabling injuries,” says Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s acting deputy regional administrator for New England. “It’s clear that Central Transport must systematically and effectively address and eliminate hazards at all its locations. The safety and well-being of its employees, now and in the future, depend on it.”

OSHA found that the building’s roof leaked water on to the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery chargers were located. Employees stood in water while plugging in battery chargers and drove forklifts in slippery conditions. This exposed workers to possible electrocution, forklift tip-overs, and slipping hazards.

Employees also were exposed to falls from the loading dock entrance ramp, which lacked required guardrails. Crushing or struck-by injuries arose from the use of defective forklifts, which were not removed from service. Given the company’s knowledge of and failure to address these conditions, OSHA cited Central Transport for four willful safety violations, carrying $242,000 in fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Two repeat violations, with $44,000 in fines, were issued for hazards similar to those cited in 2012 at company facilities in Hillside, Illinois, and Pearl, Mississippi. These violations involved unstable and insecure stacking of materials and failure to inform employees of the dangers associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Eight serious violations, with $44,800 in fines, were issued for inadequately evaluating workers’ ability to operate forklifts; unattended forklifts; lack of fire extinguishers; and tripping and electrical hazards.

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. 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 here.

Central Transport, based in Warren, Michigan, employs about 4,300 workers at 170 locations nationwide, including 18 employees at the Billerica location. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Cold Stress

Protect your workers this winter

Workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter, outdoor workers, and those who work in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat.

What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can more rapidly leave your body.

These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems, including hypothermia, immersion hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains.

Learn more from the CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) about the causes and symptoms of cold stress and how to protect your workers. Get NIOSH Fast Facts here.

 

 

Workplace Becoming Safer

Decline in worker injuries continues

Earlier this month, the federal government released its Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses—2013 report. And for the 11th year in a row, with the exception of 2011, there was a decline in the number of workers injured. Key findings from the report include:

  • The total recordable cases (TRC) incidence rate of injury and illness reported by private industry employers declined in 2013 from a year earlier, as did the rate for cases of a more serious nature involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction–commonly referred to as DART– marking the first decline in the DART rate since 2009.
  • Manufacturing continued a 16-year trend in 2013 as the only private industry sector in which the rate of job transfer or restriction-only cases exceeded the rate of cases with days away from work. The rates for these two case types declined by 0.1 case in 2013 to 1.2 cases and 1.0 case per 100 full-time workers, respectively.
  • The incidence rate of injuries only among private industry workers declined to 3.1 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2013, down from 3.2 cases in 2012. In comparison, the incidence rate of illness cases was statistically unchanged in 2013.

Read the full report.

OSHA Getting Audited

Office of Inspector General planning five audits for 2015

In its 2015 Office of Audit Workplan, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Labor includes plans for discretionary audits of five OSHA programs, including the agency’s Whistleblower Protection Program and its National and Local Emphasis Programs. Discretionary audits are based on risk and potential impact on the agency’s mission and goals.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Labor conducts audits to review the effectiveness, efficiency, economy, and integrity of all DOL programs and operations, including those performed by its contractors and grantees. This work is conducted in order to determine whether the programs and operations are in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations, DOL resources are efficiently and economically being utilized, and DOL programs achieve their intended results.

Learn more here.

 

U.S. DOL Announces Rule to Protect Workers from Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity

Extends to workers employed by federal contractors, subcontractors

A new rule prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal contracting workforce was announced on Dec. 4 by the U.S. Department of Labor. The rule implements Executive Order 13672, which was signed by President Obama on July 21.

EO 13672 tasked the department with updating the rules implementing EO 11246 to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes it protects. While 18 states, the District of Columbia, and many businesses, large and small, already offer workplace protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees, July’s executive order was the first federal action to ensure LGBT workplace equality in the private sector.

The final rule will become effective 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register and will apply to federal contracts entered into or modified on or after that date. More information is available here.

DOL Requests OMB Review of Respiratory Reduction Standards

Deadline for comments Dec. 22

On behalf of OSHA the Department of Labor has submitted an information collection request (ICR) titled Respiratory Protection Standard to the Office of Management and Budget for review and approval. The OMB will consider all written comments pertaining to the ICR on or before Dec. 22, 2014.

The ICR seeks to extend the agency’s regulatory authority on information collecting requirements that assist employers in protecting the health of workers exposed to airborne contaminants, physical hazards and biological agents.

A federal agency cannot collect information unless it is approved by the OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The current authorization for collection expires on Jan. 31, 2015, and the DOL seeks to extend authorization for an additional three years.

More information

 

Retailers Urged to Keep Workers Safe at Sales Events

Online guidelines available

OSHA is encouraging retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major holiday sales events.

Tragic consequences and risk to workers can occur if the proper safety procedures are ignored. In 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales.

“During the hectic shopping season, retail workers should not be put at risk of injury or death,” says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees.”

OSHA sent letters to major retailers to remind employers about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines, Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, provided in the OSHA fact sheet they received.

Crowd management plans should, at least, include:

  • Onsite trained security personnel or police officers
  • Barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store’s entrance
  • The implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store
  • Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers
  • Methods for explaining approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public
  • Not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level
  • Not blocking or locking exit doors

The letter sent to major retailers, retail associations, and fire associations can be viewed here

Protecting Against Falls

Falls, slips, trips killed 699 workers last year

According to the preliminary results of the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2013, fatal falls, slips, or trips took the lives of 699 workers in 2013.

OSHA has developed a number of training tools designed to help employers protect their workers against these incidents. These training tools provide guidance on how employers can be more proactive in providing protection before the work begins.

Click here for a list of the tools that OSHA offers in this area.

 

Notable OSHA Activity

Providence circus fall, fire at Vernon machining shop

OSHA Finds that Overloading Led to Circus Fall

A “Hair Hang Act” performance during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show on May 4 in Providence took a disastrous turn when the apparatus the performers were hanging from suddenly fell to the ground. An OSHA investigation has determined this incident occurred because the carabiner used to support the performers failed from being improperly loaded. The failure resulted in the eight employees performing the act falling more than 15 feet to the ground and sustaining serious injuries. A ninth employee, working on the ground, was struck by falling employees.

In violation of industry practice and the carabiner manufacturer’s instructions, the company improperly loaded the carabiner by attaching two pear-shaped steel rings to the bottom of the carabiner, with each steel ring having three wire cables running from it to the corners of the rigging apparatus. This created a tri-axial loading situation as opposed to the proper loading situation where the carabiner is loaded only at two points along its major axis. This improper manner of loading resulted in the carabiner being overloaded, causing the carabiner to fail and having all eight employees attached to the rigging fall to the ground.

As a result of its findings, OSHA has cited Feld Entertainment Inc., doing business as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for one serious safety violation with a proposed penalty of $7,000, the maximum fine allowed by law. 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.

See the citation

“This catastrophic failure by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clearly demonstrates that the circus industry needs a systematic design approach for the structures used in performances—approaches that are developed, evaluated, and inspected by professional engineers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “While the $7,000 penalty is the maximum allowable by law, we can never put a price on the impact this event had on these workers and their families. Employers must take steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

Jeffrey Erskine, acting deputy regional administrator in OSHA’s New England regional office, said “Equipment failures can lead to tragic results. To prevent these types of incidents, employers need to not only ensure that the right equipment is being used, but also that it is being used properly. The safety and well-being of employees depend on it.”

Fire at Vernon Machining Shop Sparks Investigation

What began as a fire in a titanium dust collection system at a precision machining shop in Vernon resulted in OSHA identifying and citing 20 safety and health violations at Soldream Inc. Proposed fines total $59,290.

“In addition to fire and explosion hazards, workers at this facility faced serious cuts and amputations, electrocution, illnesses, and other serious injuries due to a lack of safeguards,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford. “Clearly, worker safety and health were not the priorities they should have been. Soldream must quickly and effectively address these issues for the health and well-being of its employees.”

A workbench in the finishing room of the facility caught fire on May 19, 2014, while an employee cleaned titanium aircraft parts. OSHA found that the bench had not been designed or equipped for work with titanium and that the bench and the room’s dust collection system lacked adequate fire and explosion controls. Flammable titanium dust had also settled on electrical equipment. Additional fire hazards stemmed from the lack of sprinklers and fire safeguards in spray booths where flammable liquid was sprayed on parts, and employees did not have hands-on training to use portable fire extinguishers.

OSHA also found that employees in the spray finishing operation, who worked with the hazardous chemical molybdenum sulfide, lacked adequate respiratory protection. The workers had not been medically evaluated and fit tested for respirators or adequately trained in their use.

For employees who worked with liquid nitrogen, the company did not evaluate the need for and ensure the use of eye and face protection. In addition, containers of hazardous chemicals were not properly labeled, and workers were inadequately trained in the hazards associated with these chemicals.

In addition, several milling machines had inoperative or bypassed interlock mechanisms, which allowed them to operate with their access doors open. This exposed employees to being caught in the machines. Soldream was cited for serious violations in relation to these hazards. 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.

Soldream 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.