Monday, October 20, 2014
To assist workers and employers, OSHA has launched a new Ebola Web page that provides information about the disease and how to protect workers. It includes sections on the disease itself, hazard recognition, medical information, standards for protecting workers, control and prevention, and additional resources. The page provides protection information for health care workers; airline and other travel industry personnel; mortuary and death care workers; laboratory workers; border, customs and quarantine workers; emergency responders; and workers in other critical sectors. It also links to the CDC and NIOSH Web pages on Ebola.
The Web page also includes a new OSHA fact sheet on protecting workers (not in healthcare or laboratories) involved in cleaning and decontamination of surfaces that may be contaminated with Ebola virus.
OSHA launches a national dialogue on hazardous chemical exposures and permissible exposure limits in the workplace
OSHA is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.
"Many of our chemical exposure standards are dangerously out of date and do not adequately protect workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "While we will continue to work on issuing and updating our workplace exposure limits, we are asking public health experts, chemical manufacturers, employers, unions and others committed to preventing workplace illnesses to help us identify new approaches to address chemical hazards."
OSHA's PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA's current limits, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency's current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful.
The comment period will close on April 8, 2015. In the coming months, OSHA will announce additional ways for the public to participate in the conversation. For more information, see the news release and visit OSHA's Web page on preventing occupational illnesses through safer chemical management.
OSHA has issued a final rule extending the deadline for crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction final rule published Aug. 9, 2010 by three years, to Nov. 10, 2017. The rule also extends by three years the employer's responsibility to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely. The final rule becomes effective Nov. 9, 2014.
During the three-year period, OSHA will address operator qualification requirements for the cranes standards including the role of operator certification. The final cranes and derricks rule required crane operators on construction sites to meet one of four qualification/certification options by Nov. 10, 2014. After publishing the final rule, a number of parties raised concerns about the standard's requirement to certify operators by type and capacity of crane and questioned whether crane operator certification was sufficient for determining whether an operator could operate their equipment safely on a construction site. For more information, see the news release.
Monday, September 15, 2014
New educational materials available: OSHA poster now in 7 languages, Ebola web page, emergency preparedness and response resources
OSHA's free Job Safety and Health: It's the Law!poster is now available online in Chinese Koreanand Nepali as well as English, Spanish, Polish andPortuguese (PDFs*). The poster informs workers of their rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. All covered employers are required to predominantly display the poster in their workplaces where workers can see it. For more information about the poster and how to get copies in the various languages, visit OSHA's workplace poster Web page.
OSHA’s new Ebola Web page provides guidance for protecting workers from exposure to the Ebola virus. The new resource covers hazard identification and characterization, medical information, applicable OSHA standards, and recommendations for prevention and control of exposures to Ebola.
OSHA has awarded $10.6 million in Susan Harwood Training Grant Program to 78 nonprofit organizations, including community- and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges and universities.
"The Susan Harwood Training Program provides thousands of workers and employers with hands-on, critical health and safety training to reduce occupational injuries," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The federal grants awarded will provide workers and employers in some of the most dangerous industries with important tools to identify and eliminate hazards."
The Harwood program supports safety and health training programs that educate workers and employers in industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; underserved youth; limited English proficiency and other vulnerable workers; and small businesses. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA expands requirement for reporting fatalities and severe injuries and updates the list of industries exempt from recordkeeping requirements
A final rule announced Sept. 11 requires employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. The rule, which also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA record-keeping requirements, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015 for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.
"Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. We can and must do more to keep America's workers safe and healthy," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them."
"Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.
Employers can report these events by telephone to thenearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours or the 24-hour OSHA hotline 1-800-321-OSHA , or electronically through a new tool which will be released soon and accessible at www.osha.gov/report_online.
In a final rule posted in the Federal Register on Sept. 11, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The rule will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015 for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.
The previous list of exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification system and the new rule uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list is based on updated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.
OSHA has posted a new website with plain language materials about the new requirements. For more information on the industries now exempt from keeping records or new industries now covered, please visitwww.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014. OSHA has also posted training material and other guidance on how to keep OSHA records to make it easy for newly covered employers to comply.
All employers covered by theOccupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA's new severe injury and illness reporting requirements. For more information, see the news release, Assistant Secretary Michaels'statement, and OSHA's new Web page on the revised rule.
New educational resources available: Protecting workers from heat, electrocution from power lines while working with ladders and cranes, and pandemic illnesses
OSHA’s Protecting Workers from the Effects of Heat Fact Sheet (PDF*) has been updated with revised information for employers on measures they should take to prevent worker illnesses and death caused by heat stress.
OSHA has also developed Electrocution: Work Safely with Ladders Near Power Lines, a new training video for employers, as well as Electrocution: Work Safely with Cranes Near Power Lines, an updated video on preventing electrocutions while operating cranes. The videos, which are available in English and Spanish, show how quickly contact with overhead power lines can result in the electrocution of a worker. It also shows what employers can do to ensure the work is done more safely.
A new fact sheet for employers on Protecting Workers during a Pandemic (PDF*).
“Buy Quiet” is a prevention initiative launched by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to help companies buy, rent or design quieter machines and tools for their workplaces. Each year millions of U.S. workers are exposed to noise loud enough to be hazardous to their health. For more information about occupational noise hazards and hearing conservation programs, visit OSHA’s safety and health topics page on noise.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released Recommended Practices(PDF*) for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job. The Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.
“An employer's commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror these workers' temporary status,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. Michaels. “Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Staffing agencies and the host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions.”
The new guidance recommends that staff agency/host employer contracts clearly define the temporary workers’ tasks and the safety and health responsibilities of each employer. Staffing agencies should maintain contact with temporary workers to verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace. For more information, read Dr. Michaels’ prepared remarks, thenews release and visit OSHA’s temporary workers page.