OSHA Compliance

OSHA cites Tyson Foods’ Jefferson Branch for exposing workers to safety hazards

OSHA cites Tyson Foods’ Jefferson Branch for exposing workers to safety hazards
OSHA has recently cited the Tyson Foods’ Jefferson branch with 10 safety violations for failing to comply with the general industry workplace safety regulations. The company faces fines worth $45,000 after OSHA investigated its worksite in October last year.

OSHA firmly believes that employers are responsible for identifying the hazards that exist at the worksite and making sure that their workers are not exposed to these risks, as this could result in injuries or even death.

The company was initially cited with 9 serious violations after the OSHA inspectors noticed the deficiencies in the company’s process safety management program, the lack of fall protection, deficiencies in the respiratory protection program and lack of adequate hazardous energy lockout/tagout program. What’s more, the company also failed to maintain the powered industrial trucks.

In addition, the company also received 1 serious violation for failing to conduct a proper personal protection equipment hazard assessment program.

OSHA seeks Applications from Companies for Online Worker Health and Safety Trainings

10 hour and 30 hour online OSHA Outreach Training ProgramOSHA announced yesterday that it will be looking for and accepting applications from companies to provide the 10 hour and 30 hour online OSHA Outreach Training Program courses for the construction, general as well as maritime industries. This program will help train workers about their rights, showcases employer responsibilities, provides details on how to file complaints and describes the various work-related hazards. All applications should be received by OSHA’s Directorate of Training and Education by the 27th of June this year.

OSHA first started giving these outreach trainings in 2002, and has since seen a steady increase in the number of workers signing up for these courses online. In 2010, more 110,000 workers signed up and received online trainings. Because of the interest in these courses, OSHA is now providing this competition to ensure that they provide quality training to all participants.

All applicants will be selected based on their organizational as well as staff experience, their qualifications, their technical and administrative capabilities, and the course content and design.

OSHA clears up doubts about payment responsibilities for its new PPE directive

OSHA clears up doubts about payment responsibilities for its new PPE directive
OSHA has released a new directive that updates and details compliance for employers to provide employees and workers with personal protective equipment. This enforcement guidance was issued for the general industry workers.

This directive replaces the previous guidelines of 29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart l, which were the revised standards issued in 1995 for the workers of the general industry.

The most significant changes made were:

  • The type of personal protective equipment that must be provided at no cost, when employers are required to pay or are required to replace equipment, and when employers are not required to pay for the equipment.

  • The payment requirements for the personal protective equipment that is worn off the job site, for the equipment that must be left at the job site and for the equipment that is owned by employees.

  • Enforcement policies that give details about court and review commission decision with regards to protective equipment.

  • Guidance that helps employers to use equipment that is constructed in accordance with the latest national consensus standards.

  • This rule however, does not change any of the current OSHA requirements with regards to the type of PPE that must be provided. Instead, the directive basically makes it clear that employers are required to pay for PPE in order to comply with the OSHA standards.

    PETA petitions OSHA for Elephant Protection Rule

    PETA petitions OSHA for Elephant Protection Rule
    PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have recently filed a petition requesting OSHA to enforce a regulation prohibiting any direct physical contact between employees and elephants where they are kept in captivity, like the zoo, circus, etc. Submitted by PETA’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement section, this petition requests OSHA to start with a regulation and issue enforcement guidance saying that direct contact is prohibited and elephants should be protected.

    PETA has acted on the same day that the Knoxville Zoo announced that it would switch to “protected contact” after a handler was killed earlier this year. The petition includes 240 pages of appendices, exhibits, articles and other documents that contain extensive information with regards to protected contact and many incidents in which elephant handlers have been injured or killed in direct-contact situations.

    The petition declares that being an elephant handler is indeed a dangerous job and that has a fatality rate higher than that of commercial fishing or of most jobs. As opposed to free contact, protected contact basically relies on positive reinforcement during any interaction through protective barriers such as a cage or fence. This system helps handlers manage elephants through positive reinforcement training as this helps to modify the behavior and gain the cooperation of the animal. Physical punishment is strictly prohibited.

    NuStar Energy Facility recognized for Excellence in Safety and Health

    NuStar Energy Facility recognized for Excellence in Safety and Health
    OSHA has recently recognized the management and employees of NuStar Energy’s facility in Amarillo for 3 years of achieving an excellent employee workplace safety and health program. This facility has been marked as a “Star” site.

    Some of NuStar’s outstanding efforts at this site include maintaining an injury and illness rate that is 70% below that of other facilities in its industry. Nu Star should be set as an example for what managers and employees all over the country can accomplish if they work together to eliminate hazards.

    OSHA has since presented the company with a flag and a plaque in recognition of its efforts to comply with the OSHA standards and keep its employees safe.

    OSHA slaps Builders with Fines

    OSHA slaps Builders with Fines
    OSHA has recently cited a Myrtle Beach construction company for a minimum of 3 safety violations. The company allegedly faces a fine of $59,000 for violations after a work fell at the site last year.

    The worker in question fell at least 21 feet onto a concrete sidewalk while passing furniture from a debris container that was mounted on the forklift truck. OSHA investigated into the matter and has since cited the company with an overall fine of $56,000 for failing to provide employees with appropriate fall protection and $1,500 for failing to train workers about the various fall hazards. In addition, the company was also charged with a $1,500 fine for exposing untrained employees to hazards at work.

    The Florida based Winter Park Construction Company was also cited by OSHA for 5 serious safety violations and have been issued fines of $11,250.

    OSHA’s PPE Standards Revised

    OSHA’s PPE Standards Revised
    On February 15 this year, OSHA issued revised directives with regards to determining whether employers are complying with OSHA’s PPE standards. This directive is also known as the Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in the General Industry and is the latest about PPE from OSHA. It is an important document for employers as well as employees.

    The PPE standards first emerged in order to keep up with the rapid scientific advances in determining and eliminating workplace safety hazards, developments in the type of fabrics and materials used to avoid hazards and the type of respiratory and personal protection tools used. PPE has become a lot more sophisticated since then.

    There are several important changes that have been made, namely:

    1. Firstly, the document now clarifies just what type of PPE should be provided by employers at no cost to the employees and when are employers required to pay for PPE such as respirators, hard hats, hearing protection, personal fall protection, firefighting equipment, etc. The document also mentions when employers are NOT required to pay for PPE.

    2. The document clarifies what the PPE requirements are for various jobs and what PPE must remain on the work site and what can be carried off work.

    3. The document contains various policies that reflect the Court and Review commission decisions with regards to PPE.

    4. The guidance provides all valid information which allows employers to use PPE that is selected in accordance with the most recent national standards. This information is highly useful to employers as it helps them select the most appropriate PPE.

    5. OSHA has also amended the provision that specifically requires for safety shoes to comply with the specific American National Standards Institute standard. Employers should now select footwear that is constructed in accordance with the ANSI standards.

    OSHA notifies Air Traffic Control Tower about Workplace Safety Violations

    OSHA notifies Air Traffic Control Tower about Workplace Safety Violations
    OSHA has recently issued Notices of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) lakefront Airport Air Traffic Control Tower situated in New Orleans. The notice contains conditions where employees were found to be exposed to potential fire hazards.

    OSHA started investigating this in September last year, as part of its Airport Air Traffic Control Tower Monitoring Program, and has since found a number of violations for the alternate standard for fire safety. Notices were issued to 6 alleged repeat violations and 1 serious violation.

    The repeat violations included the improper use of electrical equipment, failing to correct deficiencies in the fire alarm and stair tower pressurization systems, failing to provide emergency action plans and fire prevention plans, and failing to ensure that fire drills are regularly performed. The FAA was previously cited for these same violations in 2009 as well. The serious violation was for failing to provide employees with a facility compliance program.

    Explosion at Chemical Plant Injures 4

    Explosion at Chemical Plant Injures 4
    An explosion at a chemical plant in Middleton has injured 4 people and shaken the surrounding community. The explosion occurred on March 13th, 2011 at the Bostik Chemical Plant in Middleton somewhere around 8 p.m. According to officials at the plant, it is still unknown what really caused the explosion at the plant.

    The company however, was not exactly in a position to share the cause of the blast or to provide more details of the chemical process that takes place normally and what happened at the time of the incident. Residents around the area described the explosion as a sonic boom and said that it could be felt for miles around.

    The number of people injured in the blast included three men and one woman. These victims were immediately rushed to an area hospital where a decontamination tent was set up. All 4 victims have since been treated and releases.

    OSHA is currently investigating into the case.

    Grain Company fined by OSHA after Worker’s Death

    Grain Company fined by OSHA after Worker’s Death
    A grain company was recently cited by OSHA for willful safety violations. The company was slapped with a $500,000 fine after a worker was killed when cleaning out a grain bin. Andrew Nicholas Dill was killed when he got entangled in an auger at Gavilon Grain in Marion County.

    OSHA stated that Dill’s death could have been prevented, and has since fined the facility $175,000 for safety violations. OSHA has also issued fines worth $171,000 and $119,500 to the company at its Ohio facilities in West Jefferson as well as in Harpster.

    OSHA also fined Ace Iron and Metal Co. $63,000 for multiple safety violations after a worker was trapped under a scarp hauler, which resulted in permanent leg damage.

    Lincoln Paper and Tissue Cited

    Lincoln Paper and Tissue Cited
    Lincoln Paper and Tissue has recently been slapped with a whopping $200,000 fine for various workplace safety violations, including violations that were related to an incident where an employee was injured.

    OSHA has cited the Lincoln Paper mill for 9 repeat and serious workplace violations and has fined the company nearly $212,000. An OSHA spokesman said that many of the violations were based on issues that were brought up in a previous inspection in 2008 and were corrected but have recurred since then.

    Keith Van Scotter, the owner of the paper mill has said that the mill’s safety record has improved drastically over the past few years and that each and every one of the citations have been corrected. In September, a worker was injured and suffered from serious burns and scalding hot water and steam fell on him. OSHA cited the company with 8 repeat violations and fines worth of $196,000 for failing to block the steam line and preventing such an accident. The company was cited for the same issues before, and has also been cited for training employees in safety related electrical work practices.

    The paper mill has 15 business days to meet with the OSHA officials or to contest these findings.

    Giant Panda bites its keeper at the San Diego Zoo – Cal/OSHA Investigates

    Giant Panda bites its keeper at the San Diego Zoo – Cal/OSHA Investigates
    Cal/OSHA is a state agency that is solely responsible for ensuring and enforcing worker safety. It is now going to investigate into an incident which involved a female giant panda biting its keeper at the San Diego zoo.

    Krisann Chasarik of Cal/OSHA has said that the agency will go ahead and review the safety practices at the zoo and check to see whether the workers were being sufficiently protected from the pandas and other animals and what the zoo does in case of an injury caused to its employees. An OSHA investigator will also examine the scene where the incident took place and will interview all the other employees.

    The investigations could lead to civil penalties, but it is expected to take a few months to come to a decision. The incident occurred on Sunday morning when the keeper was trying to coax the female panda into returning to her sleeping area but was bitten and clawed and was taken to the hospital for treatment. The incident has been listed as an “attack” by Cal/OSHA.

    However, Cal/OSHA does not have the authority to show or tell the zoo how to treat its animals. This authority rests with other state and federal agencies that are directly involved with wildlife. Last year, the zoo was hit with a $2,700 fine for 4 safety violations for an incident in which a keeper fell and fractured her leg when a zebra tried to run away out of fright. The keeper was attempting to restrain the zebra on a leash.

    Refinery Hit with OSHA Citations

    Refinery Hit with OSHA Citations
    Holly Corp. was recently fined $62,500 for 14 alleged serious violations of federal workplace safety regulations, at its Tulsa unit. The refinery was fined for failing to address a number of workplace hazards including: adequate emergency response, process safety management, ventilation, evacuation procedures and eliminating all potential ignition sources.

    OSHA began investigating the refinery in September last year. Failure to implement any of OSHA’s regulations to protect employees from all or any workplace hazards is not tolerated by OSHA. The refinery has 15 business days to request a conference and comply or to contest the citations.

    The refinery employs hundreds of workers who are actively engaged in processing nearly 125,000 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis into diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and other such products. In January last year, a worker was burned when hot water accidentally gushed out of a coke drum.

    OSHA establishes final Procedures for Safe handling of Nuclear and Environmental Retaliation Complaints

    OSHA establishes final Procedures for Safe handling of Nuclear and Environmental Retaliation Complaints
    OSHA has recently established final rules that explain the procedures for handling whistleblower retaliation complaints. Similar to many of the other whistleblower provisions, these rules not only help works to correctly file written complaints, but to also file complaints orally.

    This particular approach improves the access to the entire complaint filing process for employees who tend to have difficulty in filing written complaints. What’s more, workers also receive copies of the documents that are submitted by the employer with regards to their whistleblower complaints and are subject to confidentiality laws.

    Workers who are silent are not safe workers. These changes in the whistleblower provision help workers by standing by them and providing them with the courage to come forward especially if they feel that the employer is violating the environmental or nuclear safety laws.

    The rule basically covers all those workers who wish to voice concerns over nuclear and environmental safety issues, over clean air and water, solid wastes, safe drinking water and toxic substances.

    OSHA urges FDA to work with them to determine the safe levels of Formaldehyde

    The United States Food and Drug Administration or FDA has recently been urged to work alongside with OSHA to help establish whether hair smoothening treatments give out unsafe levels of formaldehyde.

    Following the CIR’s findings on the safety of formaldehyde and methylene glycol in hair smoothening treatments, it has been announced that an understanding of these ingredients and the conditions of use is very important. The panel reached a conclusion that methylene glycol and formaldehyde are safe to be used in cosmetic products when used in the minimal effective concentrations and should not exceed 0.2 percent.

    This is why FDA is being urged to work with OSHA and other appropriate state as well as local organizations to determine whether salon hair smoothening products emit dangerous levels of formaldehyde gas that could be potentially unsafe for salon workers and customers.

    OSHA provides Guidance Document for Small Business to comply with the Cranes and Derricks Rule

    OSHA provides Guidance Document for Small Business to comply with the Cranes and Derricks Rule
    OSHA has recently issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide for Cranes and Derricks in Construction to help such small business comply with the various recent Cranes and Derrick’s rules.

    OSHA published the document in August of last year to help address the rising number of worker injuries and deaths that are caused due to cranes and derricks in the construction industry. This rule also includes the technological advancements made in equipments since the old rule.

    In the past 40 years, it has been observed that the number of injuries and deaths caused due to electrocution, struck-by and crushed-by hazards from working on cranes and derricks was steadily increasing. This new guide helps employers in the construction industry understand that they must protect their workers from these dangerously fatal incidents.

    This guide has been divided into separate chapters and accompanies various other OSHA compliance materials that are related to cranes and derricks.

    Pep Boys Cited for Electrical and Machine Guarding Hazards

    Pep Boys Cited for Electrical and Machine Guarding Hazards
    OSHA has said that workers in the Hamden store were exposed to electric hazards from damaged power cords, and were also exposed to cuts and lacerations from a grinder without any safety guard.

    OSHA has cited the Pep Boys auto service company with 1 serious and 4 repeat violations after an inspection was conducted in its Hamden facility. The company currently faces a fine of $75,000.

    The sizable amount of the fines issues reflects the fact that the company was previously cited as well for a number of workplace hazards in its Orange County location. OSHA recommends that the employers at its other stores and locations should find what other hazards exist and eliminate them in order to keep the employees safe.

    OSHA also announced that the workers in the Hamden unit were exposed to electric hazards due to damaged power cords. They were also exposed to cuts and lacerations from a grinder that lacked a safety guard.

    ‘Spider Man: Turn off the Dark’ cited for Federal Safety Violations

    ‘Spider Man: Turn off the Dark’ cited for Federal Safety Violations
    Spider Man’s been hunted down by the Green Goblin, the Lizard and even the Venom, but the webbed superhero hasn’t been challenged by what could possibly its most powerful foe – the US government. At least up until now.

    The show has already been plagued by a number of different problems ranging from rewrites and delays to actor injuries, the last of which has resulted in the musical and its production company being issued with 3 citations for workplace safety standard violations, by OSHA.

    The troubled musical, which has cost nearly $65 million to finance, now faces a fine of $12,600. The citations were issued because of injuries that were caused to 4 separate actors during performances that began towards the end of last year. The most notable incident being in November, wherein cast member Natalie Mendozaand suffered a concussion and in December, wherein Christopher Tierney fell into the orchestra oit and fractured his skull and broke a few ribs.

    Is OSHA Abandoning Key Workplace Safety Rules to Steer Clear of Budget Cuts

    Is OSHA Abandoning Key Workplace Safety Rules to Steer Clear of Budget Cuts
    It has been observed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seems to be abandoning the implementation of key workplace safety rules in an attempt to steer clear of budget cuts that the congressional Republicans are keen to bring about.

    The Republicans have been pretty upset about OSHA stringent enforcement of rules under the Obama Administration. They claim that such enforcement of safety rules can take away plenty of jobs. While on other hand, supporters of OSHAs stringent enforcement say that OSHA is only helping those with jobs by preventing them from getting killed.

    Congressional Republicans have demanded cutting at least $99 million from OSHAs budget this year, which is a drastic reduction. Such a drastic reduction would have a devastating effect on all of OSHA’s activities.

    The Republicans have been particularly upset by a set of ergonomic rules which was delayed or stopped by OSHA. These rules would have forced companies to take into account ergonomic injuries like musculoskeletal disorder injuries. Workplace advocates had hoped that by being able to point out those companies that have a high amount of workers suffering from such injuries, they would be able to hold the companies at fault.

    Republicans have held this particular regulation in scorn. The rule was hence delayed because of heavy opposition. But the final decision to stop the implementation of this rule may have been cause by the budget cuts that OSHA is being threatened with.

    In the end, the question that arises is whether President Obama will fight to maintain such agencies like OSHA or will he oppose?

    OSHA Certifies Schneider Electric as a VPP Star Site

    OSHA Certifies Schneider Electric as a VPP Star Site
    OSHA has recently commended the management and employees of the Schneider Electric USA Inc. for their achievements in the safety and health program. The company’s Lincoln branch has been certified as a “star” site.

    The Schneider Company manufactures miniature circuit breakers and has earned recognition for adhering to a comprehensive on-site safety program. With more than 25o workers at the Lincoln facility, OSHA was pleased to see all the processes in place.

    Right from the top down, the company has displayed and outstanding ability to implement a comprehensive workplace safety and health system, making it an exemplar example of how a company should run its workplace safety program.

    OSHA recognizes employers and employees in federal agencies and private industries if they have implemented an effective safety and health system and have managed to ensure that injury and illness rates are below the average statistics for their industry.

    OSHA cites Millard Refrigerated Services for Serious Health & Safety Violations

    OSHA cites Millard Refrigerated Services for Serious Health & Safety Violations
    OSHA has recently cited Millar Refrigerated Services in Theodore for serious health and safety violations. These 16 violations were found following an incident in which 152 workers were exposed to and overcome by ammonia vapors. Proposed fines are $52,500.

    In August last year, anhydrous ammonia leaked out of a pipe located on the roof of the company’s facility. The company personnel became aware of this leak when a crane operator fell unconscious by the ammonia vapors while evacuating his crane can on board the ship that was being loaded. The vapor carried all the way across the ship canal to a site being used by the BP workers and Patriot Environmental workers who were responsible for the decontamination of equipment in the cleanup efforts of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. 152 workers from different companies were hospitalized due to ammonia vapor exposure and 4 were placed in the intensive care unit.

    The company has been cited for 7 serious violations with $45,500 fines in proposed penalties. 4 of the violations were in connection with the incident as well as failing to conduct hazard analysis, failing to ensure emergency shutdown, failing to train workers about process safety management, and failing to investigate into the factors that could result in a catastrophic event. Other violations include: inadequate respiratory protection, deficiencies with ladders and emergency response.

    It is very important for employers to have process safety management covered for all their processes, like anhydrous ammonia refrigeration. Having an effective safety program is important. It is also imperative for employers to have efficient emergency response procedures so as to ensure the protection of responding personnel.

    Toxic Hydrofluoric Acid Leak at Oil Refinery

    Toxic Hydrofluoric Acid Leak at Oil Refinery
    A hydrofluoric acid leak was reported last week in an Ohio oil refinery. The leak has since sent 1 worker to the hospital and has required the use of a ‘water cannon’ to disperse the gas. This event has brought much attention to the potentially hazardous nature of the chemical, which is used at least 50 refineries across the country.

    The Marathon Oil Refinery has reported that nearly 145 pounds of hydrofluoric acid escaped during an incident that occurred on February 23rd. The cause for the escape was reported to be equipment failures. The workers were evacuated as soon as the leak was reported. Remedial steps were taken, including flooding the exposed are with water.

    The oil refinery industry is vulnerable to a number of hazards, including fires, explosions and even mechanical breakdowns that can put the workers at great risk. Such incidents show lack of safety measures taken and this can lead to a great calamity. In the past 5 years, this Ohio refinery has been cited by OSHA more often than most of the refineries that use HF.

    The company reports that nearly 238,000 pounds of HF can be released from the refinery in the worst case scenario, and this could affect as many as 940,000 people. According to OSHA, the refinery paid a fine of $321,500 for 45 violations in 2007.