Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New reporting requirements go into effect January 1

Beginning January 1, 2015, there will be a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.Employers will now be required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding about the incident.
Previously, employers were required to report all workplace fatalities and when three or more workers were hospitalized in the same incident.
The updated reporting requirements are not simply paperwork but have a life-saving purpose: they will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards.
Employers have three options for reporting these severe incidents to OSHA. They can call their nearest area office during normal business hours, call the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742), or they can report online at www.osha.gov/report_online. For more information and resources, including a new YouTube video, visit OSHA's Web page on the updated reporting requirements.

Starting January 1, 2015:
All employers* must report: 
  • All work-related fatalities
    within 8 hours
Within 24 hours, all work-related: 
  • Inpatient hospitalizations
  • Amputations
  • Losses of an eye  
How to Report Incident
*Employers under Federal OSHA's jurisdiction must begin reporting by January 1. Establishments in a state with a State run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date.

NIOSH publication highlights ways to protect retail workers from material handling injuries

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released a 23-page booklet showing procedures employers can share with workers in grocery stores to reduce the risk of strains and sprains when moving materials from the delivery truck to the sales floor.
Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers (PDF*) uses a series of illustrations to show how and where employees in a retail setting, such as a grocery store, would use mechanical assist devices to lift, push or pull heavy materials—job tasks that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Manual material handling injuries, also called overexertion injuries, account for 60 percent of the injuries and lost work in select retail businesses.
Although this new publication focuses on the grocery sector, the easy-to-read format can be adapted to other scenarios including for those working in warehouse and storage facilities. The technology presented may also support a retailer's growing Internet sales that depend on moving large quantities of merchandise often with fewer employees. See the NIOSH news release for more information.

New educational resources: interagency fact sheet on safe handling of Ebola-contaminated waste, booklet on hydraulic fracturing hazards

Workers involved in handling, treatment, transport, and disposal of medical, laboratory and other waste must be protected from exposure to infectious agents, including Ebola virus, which causes Ebola virus disease. Contaminated waste may pose a greater risk to workers if it is not handled safely or packaged, treated, and disposed of properly.
OSHA's new fact sheet, "Safe Handling, Treatment, Transport, and Disposal of Ebola-Contaminated Waste,"(PDF*)  was developed jointly with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. It helps employers take the necessary steps to protect workers whose jobs involve tasks throughout the waste cycle, from the point of waste generation through final disposition of treated waste products. The new guidance also encourages employers to create a waste management plan and secure necessary contracts and permits ahead of time in order to help avoid potential exposure hazards, security risks and storage problems.
In addition to exposure to the Ebola virus, the new interagency guidance also helps employers protect workers from physical and chemical hazards that may be associated with waste management. VisitOSHA's Ebola page for more information on how employers must protect their workers from the Ebola virus, as well as from these other related hazards.
As mentioned in the story above, OSHA also recently published Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica (PDF*). This booklet was the product of the OSHA oil and gas workgroup with assistance from the National STEPS network team.
Publications are available to download at no cost by visiting OSHA's website. To order publications, contact OSHA's Publications Office at 202-693-1888.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New factsheets available on tube and coupler scaffold safety: "Planning and Design" and "Erection and Use"

Two new OSHA fact sheets – "Tube and Coupler Scaffold Planning and Design" (PDF*) and "Tube and Coupler Scaffold Erection and Use" (PDF*) – are now available to help employers protect construction workers using this type of scaffold on the job. Workers building scaffolds are at risk for serious injury from falls and tip-overs, being struck by falling tools and other hazards, and electrocution from energized power lines. Before starting any scaffold project, employers should conduct a hazard assessment to ensure the safety of workers. For more information on scaffolding, visit OSHA's scaffolding safety page.

Retailers reminded to keep workers safe during major sales events

As the holiday season approaches, OSHA is encouraging retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major sales events, including Black Friday. The agency sent letters tomajor retailersretail associations and fire associations to remind employers about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines outlined in the fact sheet Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers.
Tragic consequences and risk to workers can occur if the proper safety procedures are ignored. In 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales.
"During the hectic shopping season, retail workers should not be put at risk of injury or death," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA urges retailers to take the time to adopt a crowd management plan and follow a few simple guidelines to prevent unnecessary harm to retail employees."

OSHA publishes directive for compliance officers for inspecting cranes and derricks

Last month OSHA issued a directive (PDF*) for OSHA compliance officers on enforcing requirements of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The new directive provides OSHA compliance personnel with direction on performing inspections where power-operated equipment, covered by Subpart CC - Cranes and Derricks in Construction, is present on a construction worksite.
The Cranes and Derricks standard was issued in 2010. This directive provides guidance to OSHA compliance officers when conducting inspections.
OSHA's Cranes and Derricks Safety Web page provides compliance assistance on equipment requirements for assembly and disassembly, qualified rigger, signal person qualifications and wire rope inspections; frequently asked questions; and PowerPoint presentations and videos explaining the revised rule and the hazards involved in crane operations.

Protecting health care and other potentially exposed workers from Ebola virus

The OSHA Ebola page also includes an OSHA fact sheet(PDF*) on protecting workers (not in healthcare or laboratories) involved in cleaning and decontamination of surfaces that may be contaminated with Ebola virus. Check the page frequently for the latest information.
OSHA reminds employers that the OSH Act protects workers who complain to their employer, OSHA or other government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions in the workplace. You cannot be transferred, denied a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, or punished in any other way because you used any right given to you under the OSH Act. If you have been punished or discriminated against for using your rights, you must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged reprisal for most complaints.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Safety & Health Certificate Programs: Practical Application Beyond Training

The Office of Public Health Practice has completed a Level III Assessment of our Construction and General Industry Certificate Programs.  Results are published in the Journal of Safety, Health & Environmental Research. Volume 10, Issue #2. Title: Safety & Health Certificate Programs: Practical Application Beyond Training

Link: http://www.asse.org/assets/1/7/JSHER_V10N2.pdf

New Web page on protecting workers from exposure to Ebola virus

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.