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 EnglishSpanishPolish 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.
In addition, throughout September's National Preparedness Month, OSHA is highlighting its Emergency Preparedness and Response pages to help employers keep workers safe during emergencies – including earthquakeshurricanestornadoesfloodswildfires, andwinter weather.

$10.6M in Harwood safety and health grants awarded by OSHA to 78 organizations across the nation

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

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 [6742], 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.
Reporting flow chart
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" initiative to help employers protect workers from occupational noise

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, NIOSH publish recommended practices to better protect temporary workers’ safety and health

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.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

President Obama signs executive order requiring potential federal contractors to disclose labor law violations

On July 31, President Obama signed an executive order that requires companies competing for federal contracts to disclose labor law violations and gives agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts. The new process is designed to level the playing field and bring more companies into compliance with OSHA regulations and other workplace laws.
"Today's executive order is an important step to ensure that workers are protected, businesses have a fair shot to compete, and taxpayers get the best bang for their buck," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Cheaters shouldn't win, and this action ensures they won't. Everyone is welcome to compete — as long as they are willing to do so fairly."
For more information, watch the video, read the fact sheet and read the new DOL blog post.

New resources: OSHA updates Heat Stress QuickCard

OSHA's updated Heat Stress QuickCardTM serves as a reminder to employers to acclimate workers to heat conditions. Employers should gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers who are new to the heat or those who have been away from work. The updated QuickCardTM also advises employers to modify work schedules and establish a complete heat illness prevention plan to protect their workers. OSHA's Heat Safety Tool, a mobile app that allows users to calculate the heat index, is also available for employers and workers.

New OSHA Web page highlights earthquake preparedness in the workplace

OSHA has launched a new emergency preparedness and response Web page to protect workers from earthquake hazards. Worksites in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia are at risk for earthquakes that can cause injury, death and extensive damage to buildings and other infrastructure. OSHA encourages employers to stay aware of conditions that affect their workplaces, especially those at particular risk that are near fault lines or volcanoes. Employers should train workers on workplace evacuation and emergency action plans, and keep on hand emergency supplies such as battery-operated emergency radios and first aid kits. In the aftermath of disasters, employers must ensure that workers involved in response and recovery operations are protected from potential safety and health hazards. For more information, visit OSHA's Emergency Preparedness and Response page.

Temporary worker policy memorandum outlines responsibilities of host, staffing agencies

OSHA has issued a policy background memo to its field staff as part of its focus on preventing work-related injuries and illnesses among temporary workers. In the memo, the agency reminds OSHA field staff of the agency's long standing general enforcement policy regarding temporary workers.
"Too often in recent months, it has been OSHA's sad duty to investigate fatalities and injuries involving temporary workers who were not given the necessary safety and health protections required under the Act," wrote Thomas Galassi, director of OSHA's directorate of enforcement programs.
As joint employers, both the host employer and the staffing agency have responsibilities for protecting the safety and health of temporary workers. More information is available on OSHA's Protecting Temporary Workers Web page.