Latest OSHA Activity

Bristol trash-to-energy plant faces $80,000 in fines

OSHA has cited Covanta Energy Bristol Inc. for 16 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. These include:

  • Allowing combustible dust to accumulate on ledges, conduits, floors, guardrails, work platforms and catwalks
  • Failing to determine employees’ exposure level to ash containing toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic
  • Inadequate training and protective clothing for an employee performing testing on live electrical parts
  • Inadequate safeguards for employees working in confined spaces
  • Lack of an emergency eyewash for employees working with batteries
  • Fall, fork truck, air pressure and mechanical 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

“Covanta Energy Bristol Inc. needlessly exposed its employees to the hazards of electrocution, fire, falls, slips and trips, crushing, being trapped or overcome in a confined space, eye injuries, and cancer, lung, or kidney damage,” said Terence McEvily, OSHA’s acting area director in Hartford. “It must take effective steps to eliminate these hazards and prevent them from happening again.”


OSHA and NIOSH Issue Hazard Alert on Protecting Workers from Silica Exposure D
uring Countertop Manufacture and Installation

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have jointly issued a hazard alert about protecting workers from significant crystalline silica exposure during manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured stone countertops.

The hazard alert follows reports of 46 workers in Spain and 25 workers in Israel who developed silicosis–an incurable, progressively disabling, and sometimes fatal lung disease–as a result of exposure to crystalline silica in their work manufacturing stone countertops. Ten of the workers in Israel required lung transplants as a result of their condition.

OSHA and NIOSH have identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in stone countertop operations in the United States, both in fabrication shops and during in-home finishing/installation. The alert jointly issued by OSHA and NIOSH explains how this hazard can be mitigated with simple and effective dust controls.

Crystalline silica is found in granite, sandstone, quartzite, various other rocks, and sand. Workers who inhale very small crystalline silica particles are at risk for silicosis. Symptoms of silicosis can include shortness of breath, cough, and fatigue and may or may not be obviously attributable to silica. Workers exposed to airborne crystalline silica also are at increased risk for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

The hazard alert details what can be done at stone countertop fabrication and installation worksites to protect workers from exposure to silica. This includes monitoring the air to determine silica exposure levels; using engineering controls and safe work practices to control dust exposure; and providing workers with respiratory protection when needed, training, and information about the hazards of silica.


Massachusetts Roofing Contractor Cited for Fourth Time for Exposing Employees to Potentially Fatal Falls; Faces
 $43,560 in Fines

William Trahant, Jr., Construction, Inc., of Lynn, Mass., was cited by OSHA for one willful, one repeat, and three serious violations of workplace safety and health standards. These include: lack of fall protection for employees repairing an asphalt shingle roof on a three-story house, inadequate anchorage points for fall arrest lines, and not training employees to recognize and address fall hazards.

An additional fall hazard stemmed from using a damaged portable ladder, with split rails and bent rungs, to access the roof. Finally, an employee working on the ground beneath the roofers lacked a hardhat, exposing him to falling objects.

The willful and repeat citations stem from this employer’s history of fall protection violations. William Trahant, Jr. Construction, Inc., was previously cited by OSHA for similar violations in August 2014 for a worksite located in Revere, Mass., September 2012 for a site in Peabody, and July 2011 for another site in Peabody.

“Trahant Construction continues to demonstrate a wanton disregard for employee safety, exposing its employees to deadly or disabling injuries on multiple occasions,” said Anthony Covello, OSHA’s acting area director in Andover. “Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. This employer must take steps to effectively train and enforce a culture of safety for himself and his employees.”


Central Transport LLC Shipping Exposes Terminal Employees
in Multiple States to Injuries and Death from Defective Forklifts 

Employees at Central Transport LLC’s 170 freight shipping terminals nationwide use forklifts daily to move, handle, load, and unload freight and other materials. These vehicles must be maintained according to recognized safety standards, so that workers are not crushed, struck by, or injured by defective forklifts.

Multiple inspections during the last several years by OSHA have found that Central Transport has repeatedly left dangerously defective forklifts in service in at least 11 shipping terminals in nine states: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

As a result, the department has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission seeking an order to require the freight shipper to remove damaged, defective and unsafe powered industrial trucks from service at all its locations nationwide.

“A systemic problem demands a systemic solution,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Central Transport’s corporate safety managers participated in several OSHA inspections and were aware of the widespread nature of these hazards, but have not corrected them across the board. This means that employees at many Central Transport terminals continue to be exposed to deadly or disabling injuries day after day. This must change.”

The department’s complaint alleges that Central Transport has been aware of the need to remove damaged, defective, and unsafe forklifts from service since 2006. Several OSHA inspections resulted in 11 citations and final orders, which required Central Transport to remove damaged forklifts from service. However, OSHA inspections in 2014 of company freight terminals in Billerica, Massachusetts, and Rock Island and Hillside, Illinois, found that the company, despite its awareness of the hazards involved, knowingly allowed this dangerous practice to continue at multiple locations.

“When a company operates in multiple locations and workers face similar hazards at many, if not all, locations, their safety can’t be addressed in a piecemeal fashion. Given the breadth and severity of the hazards these workers face, and Central Transport’s failure to respond proactively, we are seeking an order requiring correction at all of the company’s locations where these hazards exist,” said Michael Felsen, the department’s regional solicitor of labor in Boston, whose office filed the complaint.

Central Transport, based in Warren, Michigan, employs about 4,300 workers at 170 locations nationwide.

After the Distraction Ends, the Danger Remains

New facts about interrupted road awareness

You reach down to adjust the dial on your car radio. It only takes two seconds, so you say it is no big deal and perfectly safe.

New research from Liberty Mutual’s Research Institute for Safety, however, indicates that may be an incorrect assumption. It has been understood that even minor distractions while driving increase crash risk, but the reasons have been elusive. The study sought to provide further insight on the dangers behind distracted driving

Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that in-vehicle glances be restricted to no more than two seconds. Unfortunately, if you do something minor, such as turning the radio knob, which ostensibly may only take two seconds, the risk period  may be longer than you realize.

The Liberty study demonstrated that driver’s road awareness is interrupted for more than just two seconds. There is an additional readjustment period as the driver returns to focusing on the road that impacts the ability to concentrate on the road and properly assess new hazards. Increasing the danger was drivers’ lack of awareness of their poor hazard identification.

As one of the investigators points out, “ The fact that drivers consistently missed critical information but were unaware of having missed it suggests that they would be likely to continue unsafe behaviors. We need to find ways to illustrate to drivers just how much in-vehicle distractions can impair their driving performance.”

 

New NIOSH Web Page on Engineering Controls

Critical information on eliminating workplace hazards

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has posted a new directory page that links to NIOSH Web pages, projects, programs, tools, and resources related to engineering controls created to improve workplace health and safety.

Engineering controls protect workers by removing hazardous conditions or by placing a barrier between the worker and the hazard.

Click here to view the new page.

Total Worker Health

Integrating health protection, health promotion

Occupational safety and health programs and workplace health promotion efforts traditionally have operated in silos. The good news is that’s finally changing.

An emerging body of evidence recognizes that separate approaches are not as effective as integrated approaches that consider worker safety, health, and well-being at work and beyond the workplace.

Today, more employers are making the connection that a safe, healthy, and engaged workforce affects their bottom line.

Learn more from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health.

Stand Tall, Stand Proud, and Stand-Down for Fall Safety!

OSHA to host second-annual Construction Fall Safety Stand-Down

Every day in this country, construction workers fall. One wrong step and they’re tumbling down a steeply pitched roof, sliding or dropping off an unstable ladder, or left hanging from a scaffold. The difference between an unexpected stumble and tragedy is simple: fall protection.

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, as hundreds of workers die each year and thousands more suffer catastrophic, debilitating injuries. Yet, lack of proper fall protection remains the most frequently cited violation by OSHA. To recognize this often fatal hazard, tens of thousands of employers and more than a million workers across the country joined OSHA in 2014 for a weeklong Fall Safety Stand-Down, the largest occupational safety event ever held. OSHA hopes to triple these numbers during this year’s Fall Safety Stand-Down from May 4‒15, 2015.

“With the economy on the rebound and housing starts on the rise, now is the time to for all of us to renew our commitment to sending workers home safe every night,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Last year’s Stand-Down showed us what employers and workers sharing that commitment can accomplish. Responsible employers understand that safety is not a luxury—it is a necessity.”

Building on last year’s widespread participation, OSHA has made this year’s Stand-Down a two-week event. From May 4‒15*, employers and workers will pause during their workday for topic talks, demonstrations, and training on how to use safety harnesses, guard rails, and other means of protecting workers from falls. Underscoring the importance of this effort, industry and business leaders, including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups, have already begun scheduling 2015 stand-downs in all 50 states and around the world.

“Fatal falls and injuries impact workers in all kinds of jobs across the country; it’s a broad problem that takes a terrible toll on workers and their families,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Given the tremendous response we’ve received, it’s clear that this is an important issue to a great number of people across this nation. I know it is, to me and all my colleagues here at the department, which is why we are so pleased to work towards preventing these tragedies through innovative and collaborative efforts like the Stand-Down.”

The National Fall Safety Stand-Down is part of OSHA’s fall prevention campaign, launched three years ago with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda, and The Center for Construction Research and Training. Additional partners for this year’s event include: American Society for Safety Engineers, National Safety Council, National Construction Safety Executives, the United States Air Force, OSHA-approved state plans, state consultation programs, and OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.

OSHA and partners would like to encourage all workers and employers that face fall hazards on the job to participate in this year’s Stand-Down. The newly launched National Safety Stand-Down 2015 website 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. It will also include a list of stand-down events free and open to the public, as soon as they become available.

*CBIA would like to hear what activities our members may be planning for the Construction Fall Safety Stand-Down. Please share with us by contacting Phillip Montgomery at 860.244.1982 or phillip.montgomery@cbia.com. We would like to list these activities in an upcoming Safety & Health E-News.

Drivers Not Drunk, but They May Be High

Two new studies shed light on driving dangers

The nation’s decades-long campaign to combat drunk driving continues to make our roads safer, but use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways, creating new safety questions, according to a pair of ground-breaking studies released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One study, the latest version of NHTSA’s Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007, and by more than three-quarters since the first Roadside Survey in 1973. But that same survey found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs. In the 2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.

The latest edition of the survey shows that the prevalence of alcohol use by drivers continues to drop. About 8% of drivers during weekend nighttime hours were found to have alcohol in their system, and just over 1% were found with 0.08% or higher breath alcohol content–the legal limit in every state. This is down by about 30% from the previous survey in 2007 and down 80% from the first survey in 1973.

But even as drinking and driving continues to fall, use of illegal drugs or medicines that can affect road safety is climbing. The number of weekend nighttime drivers with evidence of drugs in their system climbed from 16.3% in 2007 to 20% in 2014. The number of drivers with marijuana in their system grew by nearly 50%.

A second survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted, assessed whether marijuana use by drivers is associated with greater risk of crashes. The survey found that marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents, but that the increased risk may be due in part because marijuana users are more likely to be in groups at higher risk of crashes. In particular, marijuana users are more likely to be young men–a group already at high risk.

This was the most precisely controlled study of its kind yet conducted, but it measured the risk associated with marijuana at the levels found among drivers in a large community. Other studies using driving simulators and test tracks have found that marijuana at sufficient dosage levels will affect driver risk.

Jeff Michael, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and development, emphasized that, “Drivers should never get behind the wheel impaired, and we know that marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness.”

Roadside Survey fact sheet

Crash Risk Study fact sheet

 

 

Important Health Alert for Employers

Connecticut Department of Public Health issues warning

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) recently issued a health alert on the dangers of Trichlororoethylene (TCE) and the risks it poses for pregnant women.

TCE is a chlorinated solvent primarily used to degrease metals and machinery. The tracking of certain toxic chemicals (Toxic Release Inventory) by the EPA suggests TCE can be found in various Connecticut businesses. In these establishments, workers can be impacted by TCE through inhalation or skin absorption even if they are not working directly with the chemical.

Although studies of the chemical’s impact has produced mixed results, there is concern over its impact on fetal development.

 

Amputations Trigger Huge OSHA Fine

Manufacturer cited for over 1,000 injuries in 36 months

In a three-and-a-half year period, 4,500 employees at Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. in Arcadia, Wisconsin, experienced more than 1,000 work-related injuries. One worker became another terrible statistic when he lost three fingers in July 2014 while operating a dangerous woodworking machine without required safety mechanisms in place. Of the injuries recorded, more than 100 were caused by similar machinery. (Note: Local Ashley Furniture HomeStores are independent of Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.)

After the incident, OSHA conducted an inspection of the facility. Investigators identified 12 willful, 12 repeated, and 14 serious safety violations at Ashley Furniture’s Arcadia location, carrying a total of $1,766,000 in penalties. The company has also been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program for failure to address these safety hazards. OSHA previously cited the Arcadia facility in 2014 after an employee suffered a partial finger amputation.

“Ashley Furniture has created a culture that values production and profit over worker safety, and employees are paying the price,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Safety and profits are not an either/or proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both.”

Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor of occupational safety and health, says, “Ashley Furniture intentionally and willfully disregarded OSHA standards and its own corporate safety manuals to encourage workers to increase productivity and meet deadlines. The company apparently blamed the victims for their own injuries, but there is clear evidence that injuries were caused by the unsafe conditions created by the company. OSHA is committed to making sure that the total disregard Ashley Furniture has shown to safety stops here and now.”

Forbes lists Ashley Furniture Industries, a furniture manufacturer with worldwide distribution, as the 117th largest private company in America. With annual revenue of $3.85 billion as of October 2014, the company employs about 20,000 workers at 30 locations nationally. The Arcadia plant is also the largest employer in Wisconsin’s rural Trempealeau County, with a population of about 30,000.

The 12 willful and 12 repeated violations were cited after OSHA found that the company did not take the necessary steps to protect its workers from being injured by moving machine parts. It did not prevent machines from unintentionally starting when workers were performing tooling and blade changes on woodworking machinery, and also failed to provide adequate safety mechanisms to prevent contact with those moving parts. These types of violations are among the most frequently cited by OSHA and often result in death or permanent disability.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health. OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

OSHA also cited Ashley Furniture Industries for 14 serious violations, including not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery. The company also lacked adequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials; it committed three electrical safety violations, and it did not equip some of its machines with readily-accessible emergency stop buttons.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

View the current citations here.

Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. has had 33 federal OSHA inspections and 23 state plan inspections since 1982. In its 33 previous inspections, OSHA issued citations for 96 serious, four repeat, and 38 other-than-serious violations. Four inspections were initiated as a result of finger amputations, with Arcadia’s 2014 incident being the most recent. Ashley Furniture’s workers’ compensation carrier is Twin City Fire Insurance Company, part of the Hartford Insurance Group.

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.

When It Comes to Safety, Is Your Competent Person Competent?

Shedding light on an often-misunderstood topic

By Milton Jacobs, CSP

The term competent person is used in many OSHA standards and documents. For example, 18 of 26 OSHA Construction Industry Subparts have some type of requirement for a competent person.

OSHA defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

The key words here are capable of identifying and authorization to correct.

Does an OSHA 10-Hour Card Equal Competent?

Some employers may be under the impression that an OSHA 10- or 30-hour card, in and of itself, qualifies an employee as a competent person, but that’s not necessarily correct. A worker must have experience and/or training and be authorized by the employer as a competent person.

For example, let’s say you have scaffolding on your site, and it needs to be inspected. Who is qualified to do this?

To inspect scaffolding, a 10-hour card may be adequate, but only if the person holding it has relevant experience, competent-person training in scaffolding, and authorization by his or her employer.

What Can Trade Contractors Do?

Ensure that you identify employees who are experienced, knowledgeable, and trained in the particular area for which they are being designated as a competent person.

Some questions you might ask yourself include:

1. Do they know the relevant OSHA requirements?

2. Do they know how to apply their knowledge to specific tasks in the field?

3. Do they have training in the area, and is it more than just an OSHA 10- or 30-hour training course?

4. Are your competent people aware that they have been designated as such?

5. Did you inform them specifically that they are authorized to stop work on your company’s behalf?

6. Do you/they realize that there may be multiple competent people for the job, based on the work performed?

7. Do you document, for your site-specific safety plan, who your competent people are?

What Can an Owner, General Contractor, or Contract Manager Do?

1. Ensure you get the on-site trade contractors to document who their competent people are.

2. Ensure that the competent person is competent by asking some of the questions above.

Remember: Having a competent competent person on your job site is a critical part of your injury-liability prevention and your OSHA compliance process, so make sure your competent person is competent!

Milton Jacobs is a Certified Safety Professional with Safety Solution Consultants, Inc., in East Granby. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about services or an upcoming seminar, contact him at 860.653.3580 or click here.

 

Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards in 2014

Don’t become a statistic

The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards by OSHA during the federal government’s fiscal year, Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014:

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) more information
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200) more information
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451) more information
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134more information
  5. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178) more information
  6. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147more information
  7. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) more information
  8. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305) more information
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212) more information
  10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303) more information

Don’t Become a Statistic

Be sure to attend CBIA’s 2015 Safety & Health Conference on May 21 in Cromwell and help us make it a success by sharing the topics you would most like to see on the agenda. Contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery with your suggestions at 860.244.1982; phillip.montgomery@cbia.com.