OSHA October 1 QuickTakes

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Labor report shows drop in Hispanic worker fatalities, rising deaths in construction and oil and gas industries

October 1, 2015 · Volume 14, Issue 20
A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.


Top Stories

Labor report shows drop in Hispanic worker fatalities, rising deaths in construction and oil and gas industries

Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show that the rate of fatal work injuries in 2014 was unchanged from 2013, at about 3 per 100,000 full-time workers, but the total number of fatalities grew, reflecting an overall increase in employment. According to the data, 789 Hispanic workers died on the job in 2014, down from 817 in 2013. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities grew in the construction industry and the oil and gas extraction industry. OSHA continues extensive outreach and strong enforcement campaigns in both industries to counter these trends. In a statement on the BLS report, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said, "Far too many people are still killed on the job — 13 workers every day taken from their families tragically and unnecessarily. These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires."

EPA updates standard to better protect America's farmworkers from pesticide exposure

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has updated its Agricultural Worker Protection Standard to better protect the nation's two million agricultural workers and their families from thousands of preventable pesticide exposure incidents reported each year. Changes to the standard will reduce the risk of illness resulting from contact with pesticides on farms and in forests, nurseries and greenhouses. The updated standard requires annual safety training for farmworkers, expands mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides, and for the first time, sets a minimum age of 18 for those who work with pesticides. In addition, the EPA's updated standard for personal protective equipment is now consistent with OSHA's respiratory protection standards. This includes mandatory fit-testing, medical evaluation and training to ensure respirators are being used effectively. Additionally, the updated standard establishes anti-retaliation provisions that are comparable with those enforced by OSHA.

OSHA announces new system that gives greater weight to complex, time-consuming inspections

Today, OSHA moves to a new enforcement weighting system that assigns greater value to complex inspections that require more time and resources. The new system will allow for more strategic planning and measurement of inspections, and ensure that all workers are equally protected, regardless of the industry they work in. The system assigns "Enforcement Units" to each inspection. Routine inspections count as one unit, while those requiring greater resources — such as those involving musculoskeletal disorders, chemical exposures, workplace violence, and process safety management violations — count as up to nine units. The values are based on historical data and will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels announced the change at the National Safety Council conference in Atlanta earlier this week. "All inspections aren't equal — some are complex and require more time and resources — and many of those inspections have the greatest impact," he said. "This new system will help us better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections."

Inspections are one of the fundamental tools OSHA uses to encourage employers to abate hazards. Strong evidence from several recent studies shows these that injury rates decrease at an establishment in the years following an OSHA inspection*.

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Two workers at Case Farms Processing suffer amputations; OSHA has issued company $1.4M in penalties this year

Case Farms Processing Inc. has again been cited for safety violations at its Canton, Ohio, facility. A 17-year-old worker, employed by cleaning subcontractor Cal-Clean, suffered a below-the-knee amputation and a 24-year-old Case Farms worker lost two fingertips after both workers cleaned machines that were not installed with safety mechanisms. Both were subsequently fired. OSHA cited Case Farms for 16 safety violations with proposed penalties of $424,600, while Cal-Clean was cited with 10 safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $179,700. Violations include exposing workers to amputation, fall, electrical and other serious hazards. "How many injuries will it take before Case Farms stops exposing workers to dangerous machinery parts?" said Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA will continue to inspect, monitor and penalize this company until it makes necessary improvements." Two other inspections at Case Farms' Canton facility remain open. The chicken supplier faces more than $1.4 million in fines this year for worker safety and health violations and has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Read the news release for more information.

OSHA citations upheld for 'Midnight Rider' production company following worker fatality, injuries

In February of last year, 27- year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed by a freight train during the filming of 'Midnight Rider,' a biopic based on the life of musician Greg Allman. Eight other workers were also injured in the incident. OSHA cited the production company, Film Allman LLC, for one willful and one serious safety violation for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards. On September 15, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld those citations. Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator for the Southeast stated, "While yesterday's decision cannot correct or reverse the terrible events of February 2014, we hope that it will serve as a reminder to the film industry that safety has an important, necessary role on every set and in every workplace." For more information, see the news release.

NJ aluminum plant fined $308K for not reporting worker's hospitalization and 43 other violations

OSHA opened an investigation of Aluminum Shapes in Delair, N.J., after being notified of an employee who suffered a broken leg while operating a crane. The company failed to report the incident to OSHA within 24 hours as required. The agency also found that the company did not provide machine guarding and confined spaces training. Workers were also exposed to electrical equipment with damaged parts, cranes with control boxes that were malfunctioning and not clearly marked, and unguarded metal saws and floor openings. OSHA issued the company 44 willful, serious and other-than-serious violations, with proposed fines totaling $308,000. "This employer blatantly ignored known safety requirements, causing a preventable worker injury," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. For more information, read the news brief.

Texas stamping plant fined $119K for amputations and other serious safety hazards

After an unguarded machine crushed a worker's index and middle finger and amputated part of his ring finger, OSHA conducted an inspection of Stampcoat Inc., doing business as El Paso Tool & Die. During the inspection, a machine sheared off the tip of another worker's thumb. OSHA issued a total of 33 citations* and $119,000 in proposed penalties for safety and health hazards, 32 of them serious. Violations included failing to properly safeguard workers against caught-between and impact hazards, properly shut down machinery during servicing and maintenance, and train workers on using personal protective equipment. OSHA conducted the inspection under its National Emphasis Program on Amputations*. "OSHA's standards addressing these hazards have existed for decades, and the failure to follow these most basic safety requirements is unacceptable," said Diego Alvarado Jr., OSHA's area director in El Paso. For more information, read the news brief.

Judge upholds OSHA citations, penalties against New York manufacturer; orders company to pay $154K in fines

An Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission judge affirmed* OSHA citations and penalties against American Recycling & Manufacturing Co. Inc. OSHA inspected the Rochester, N.Y., manufacturer/recycler after an employee lost his left hand in an unguarded table saw. The inspection found numerous willful and serious violations including machines that were not shielded to prevent accidental contact or activation and caution signs that were not in a language employees could understand. The company was ordered to pay $154,800 in penalties. "This decision upholds our findings that conditions at this workplace endangered employees," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "It serves as a reminder that we will take appropriate legal steps to ensure that employers comply with the law." Read the news release for more information.

State Plan enforcement cases

Twenty-two states or territories protect private and public sector workers with their own safety and health plans, approved by OSHA to be "at least as effective" as federal occupational safety and health standards. Five additional states and one U.S. territory have OSHA-approved plans that cover state and local government public sector workers only. Below are recent examples of enforcement cases from two State Plan states.

Nevada OSHA issued six serious safety violations, totaling $47,000, to the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority for failing to adequately protect its workers. An Authority worksite lacked trench cave-in protection, proper ladder safety and workers at the site were found to be not wearing hard hats.

After a criminal investigation by California OSHA, the San Francisco District Attorney has brought manslaughter charges against the employer and foreman of a 51-year-old carpenter at Versaggi Construction who was killed in a fall in December 2012. For more information, read the Cal/OSHA news release*.

To see more enforcement cases, organized by state, visit OSHA's new webpage.

Please visit the enforcement news releases page for more on OSHA enforcement activity.

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OSHA extends comment period for proposed injury and illness records rule

OSHA is extending, until Oct. 28, 2015, the deadline for submitting comments on a proposed rule that clarifies an employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness. The proposed rule was issued in light of the AKM LLC v. Secretary of Labor (Volks)* decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. It adds no new compliance obligations and would not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required. To submit comments, see the Federal Register notice, and for more information, see the news release.

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OSHA Outreach

OSHA's Little Rock Area Office concludes first Amputation Prevention Stand-Down

An increase in the number of amputations reported to OSHA's Little Rock Area Office has raised concerns about worker safety within Arkansas establishments. Since January, 46 Arkansas workers have lost fingers, toes, hands and legs due to amputations. To educate employers and workers on preventing these injuries, the Little Rock office organized the Arkansas Amputation Prevention Stand-Down Sept. 14-29. A free event was held Sept. 15 with activities, demonstrations and training on topics such machine safeguarding and locking machines to prevent accidental start-up during servicing and maintenance. "We're hoping employers and workers have a better understanding of amputation hazards and how to correct them before they cause a permanent, debilitating injury," said Carlos Reynolds, OSHA's area director in Little Rock. Employers are required to report any amputations and inpatient hospitalizations to OSHA within 24 hours. To ask questions, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

New York OSHA staff promote workers' safety and rights at Hispanic heritage event

William Soto of OSHA's Buffalo office promotes workers' safety and rights at Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade of Western New York.

On September 12, Clara Marin and Wilson Soto of OSHA's Buffalo Area Office attended the 13th Annual Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade of Western New York. This year's theme was "Orgullo De Nuestras Raíces" (Proud of Our Roots). Occurring during National Hispanic Heritage Month, the parade is a valuable opportunity for OSHA to pass on the message of safety to the Buffalo area's large Puerto Rican and Hispanic communities. In addition to distributing pamphlets promoting safety and employee rights under the OSH Act, OSHA staff converted a government vehicle into a parade float to show the agency's support for the Hispanic community of Western New York.

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Alliances and Partnerships

OSHA and Pennsylvania technical school form alliance to protect the safety and health of youth workers

OSHA has entered into an alliance with the Upper Bucks County Technical School in Perkasie, Penn., to provide information and training resources to help protect the health and safety of the school's faculty, administration, and young workers in the student-to-work program. During the two-year agreement, the organizations will work cooperatively to prevent exposure to workplace hazards, and encourage a better understanding of workers' rights and employer responsibilities. OSHA will also review training and education curricula for youth entering the workforce.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith and community-based organizations, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.

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Educational Resources

Guide available on new standard for protecting construction workers from hazards in confined spaces

A guidance document is now available to help small businesses comply with OSHA's new Confined Spaces in Construction standard*. The standard was issued in May to help better protect construction workers from serious injuries and life-threatening hazards. Chapters in Protecting Construction Workers in Confined Spaces: Small Entity Compliance Guide* correspond to sections of the standard to help employers understand what they must do to protect their workers. This guide accompanies other OSHA compliance materials on confined spaces-related topics available on the agency's website including frequently asked questions, fact sheets and QuickCards.

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