Thursday, December 20, 2012

Podemos Ayudar: OSHA publishes updated Spanish-language website

OSHA has redesigned and updated its Spanish-language version of the agency's website to include the most up-to-date safety and health information and to inform workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities under the law. Like the English homepage, the site now includes a set of rotating images highlighting the latest news and agency activities, and prominently features workers' rights and steps to take if workers have concerns about their safety and health in the workplace. As OSHA continues to expand the number of resources available in Spanish, the site will be updated with links to those materials to provide a dynamic and timely safety and health resource for workers and employers. The site is available at

Protecting workers engaged in Sandy recovery operations: New fact sheet on mold hazards and safeguards for workers

As of Dec. 12, OSHA's education and training efforts have reached over 60,000 workers engaged in recovery efforts in communities affected by superstorm Sandy. More than 7,000 workers have been removed from safety and health hazards because of these efforts.

One potential health hazard to workers in the recovery is mold. Remediation of mold-contaminated building materials and surfaces may cause workers to become sickened or injured if employers don’t know the hazards of mold; develop an effective mediation plan; use effective controls, work practices and personal protective equipment; or train employees to recognize and protect themselves against mold. To help provide information on mold hazards, OSHA has released a new Mold Hazards during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup Fact Sheet (PDF*). Additional guidance, fact sheets (including a Personal Protective Equipment Matrix (PDF*) that shows what equipment is necessary to keep workers safe) and other information can be found on OSHA's Hurricane Sandy web page.

New educational resource on healthcare worker, patient safety

On November 20, the Joint Commission released a new, free educational resource, "Improving Patient and Worker Safety: Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration and Innovation." The purpose of this resource is to raise awareness and educate health care managers, employers and employees on the need for a healthcare culture focused on the safety of both patients and the workers who care for them.
The monograph contends that high rates of injuries and illnesses among health care workers serve as a warning that the health care environment as a whole must be transformed in order to improve safety. The monograph highlights examples of health care organization practices that address patient and worker safety simultaneously and the benefits and potential cost savings attained through collaboration between employee and patient safety departments. The monograph also identifies functional management systems and processes, strategies and tools that have been used to successfully integrate health and safety activities. For more information, read the monograph in full and visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on Healthcare.

OSHA releases fact sheet on internal combustion engines as ignition sources

Investigations by OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) have documented a history of fires and explosions at workplaces (oilfields, refineries, chemical plants, and other facilities) where an internal combustion engine was identified as or suspected to be the source of ignition. Internal combustion engines present an ignition hazard when used in facilities processing flammable liquids and gases. If flammable vapors or gases are released in these facilities, an internal combustion engine could ignite the flammable materials with catastrophic consequences. OSHA’s new Internal Combustion Engines as Ignition Sources Fact Sheet (PDF*) helps employers and workers understand the risks involved in the use of internal combustion engines, as well as some of the control strategies that should be used to prevent such catastrophic events.

New OSHA website provides information on preventing backover incidents in construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. These incidents can be prevented. OSHA has published a new Preventing Backovers webpage that provides information about the hazards of backovers; solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents; articles and resources; and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis visits Staten Island, NY, to highlight efforts to protect workers engaged in Sandy recovery operations

Secretary Solis traveled to some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods of New York City with OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab on Thursday, Nov. 29, to meet with worker groups and others involved in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy and observe some of the recovery efforts that are currently underway. The massive response to the devastation has brought together government, worker advocates, unions, public and private employers, and community and faith-based organizations, and OSHA continues to conduct comprehensive monitoring and training to ensure that workers are protected from the serious health and safety hazards involved in the operations. 

With workers still at risk of serious safety and health hazards, these efforts remain extremely urgent. OSHA is focused on high hazard operations such as debris removal, utility restoration, and clearing trees, conducting interventions that have reached more than 15,000 workers, with an emphasis on limited-English-proficiency and vulnerable workers. OSHA is distributing information on some of the most common safety and health hazards workers face, including (PDFs*) downed electrical wireschain sawschipper machinesportable generatorsmold and falls.
All of these materials are collected at a single site: Keeping Workers Safe during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup and Recovery, which is also available in Spanish. Two new fact sheets have been recently added to the website and are being distributed to workers and employers: Keeping Workers Safe during Hurricane Sandy Cleanup and Recovery Fact Sheet (PDF*, available in Spanish) and the Hurricane Sandy Cleanup PPE Matrix Fact Sheet (PDF*). The site also includes OSHA's Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix, which provides information on many of the tasks and operations associated with disaster response and recovery and the most common and significant hazards that response and recovery workers might encounter. The matrix is designed to help employers make decisions during their risk assessments that will protect their workers doing work in hurricane–impacted areas. To order fact sheets and other hurricane recovery safety and health publications, call OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.