Monday, September 23, 2013

Heat illness prevention hits airwaves, app downloads exceed 100,000

OSHA is taking its Water-Rest-Shade message to the airwaves and using technology to help employers protect outdoor workers from heat illness. In cities like Philadelphia and Little Rock, OSHA staff are speaking on English- and Spanish-language radio and TV about heat illness and workers' rights to safe workplaces. Read more here. Meanwhile, during four hot weeks in July, 18,661 people downloaded OSHA's heat safety app — bringing the total number of downloads to 103,530 since the app's launch two years ago. For more information and resources, see OSHA's Heat Campaign Web page (and en español).

Hazard Communication: Workers must be trained by Dec. 1, 2013

OSHA's updated Hazard Communication Standard provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The first deadline in the implementation phase is Dec. 1, 2013, the date by which employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet. Find information and resources, including QuickCards, a training fact sheet (PDF*), a list of frequently asked questions and abrief (PDF*) on labels and pictograms on OSHA's Hazard Communications page.

Labor Rights Week highlights safety and health rights of vulnerable workers

OSHA marked Labor Rights Week (Aug. 26-30) by forging more than a dozen new agreements with consulates across the country to protect vulnerable workers from Mexico, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Columbia, Chile and the Philippines. In an online video message, Secretary Perez explained that the Department of Labor took actions such as the Alliance signings during Labor Rights Week "…to honor the commitment of all workers and to reaffirm our commitment to making their workplaces fair and safe." Learn more in a new post on the DOL blog.

US Department of Labor's OSHA announces proposed rule to protect workers exposed to crystalline silica

OSHA has announced a proposed rule aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers. The agency currently enforces 40-year-old permissible exposure limits (PELs) for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards that are outdated, inconsistent between industries and do not adequately protect worker health. The proposed rule brings protections into the 21st century.

"This is a proposed rule and not a final rule," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "We are inviting and strongly encouraging the public to participate in the process of developing a final rule through submitting written comments and participating in public hearings. Our process of obtaining public input will take many months, and we encourage and welcome the public to participate." 

Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually. For more information on the proposed rule and how to participate in the rule making process, visit OSHA's silica rulemaking page at and read Dr. Michaels' new post on the DOL blog.