Monday, October 17, 2016
As part of an ongoing effort to revise provisions in its standards that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary, OSHA is proposing 18 changes to the agency's recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards. "The changes we propose will modernize OSHA standards, help employers better understand their responsibilities, increase compliance and reduce compliance costs," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. Individuals may submit comments electronically via www.regulations.gov, by facsimile or mail by Dec. 5. See the news release or Federal Register notice for details.
OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency's Respiratory Protection Standard. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries. OSHA invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols. Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, by mail or facsimile by Dec. 6. For more information, see the news release.
Since January, grain-handling facilities in Nebraska and Kansas have had four preventable incidents that resulted in two deaths. In March, a superintendent at a grain-handling site in Prosser, Neb., suffered fatal injuries caused by an operating auger as he drew grain from a bin. In May, a maintenance worker in West Point, Neb., died from injuries suffered when a wall of corn product in a grain bin collapsed and engulfed him. Other incidents also involved workers becoming trapped in a grain bin or injured by augers, including the amputation of a worker’s leg in Ellsworth, Kan.
OSHA urges industry employers and workers to implement safety and health programs to avoid similar tragedies. OSHA officials spoke at several grain and feed association meetings in Nebraska and Kansas on the most common hazards in the grain industry, which include engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosions and electrocution. For more information, see the news release.
Emergency workers, employers and the public face exposures to serious hazards as they recover from Hurricane Matthew. Post-storm cleanup often presents hazards associated with restoring electricity, communications, water and sewer services. Activities such as tree trimming, road and structural repair, and hazardous waste operations can also pose serious dangers to workers' safety and health. "Recovery work should not send you to the hospital emergency room," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's regional administrator for the Southeast. "You can minimize these dangers with knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment." OSHA's website provides guidance to keep disaster-site workers safe in tornado and storm cleanup and recovery operations. Read the news release for links to OSHA storm-related cleanup resources.
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels today released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety at their workplaces. The recommendations update OSHA's 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. Key principles include: leadership from the top to send a message that safety and health is critical to business operations; worker participation in finding solutions; and a systematic approach to find and fix hazards. "We know that working together to implement these programs will help prevent injuries and illnesses, and also make businesses more sustainable," said Dr. Michaels, who released the document at the National Safety Council Congress in Anaheim, Calif. In his remarks, he asked business groups and safety and health professionals to help spread the word through a campaign that encourages creation of a safety and health program using OSHA's recommendations or others.
OSHA has released a one-minute video, available in English and Spanish, to inform workers exposed to jobsite hazards of their right to file a complaint with OSHA. The video emphasizes that filing a complaint is easy and confidential and that it is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for doing so.
OSHA has released two fact sheets that stress the importance of tracking metrics and investigating potential hazards to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The Use of Metrics in Process Safety Management Facilities provides employers with a list metrics, or measurements, tracked by facilities in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs that handle highly hazardous chemicals. OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency collaborated on The Importance of Root Cause Analysis During Incident Investigation, which urges employers to investigate incidents that nearly led to a worker injury and find ways to prevent similar incidents.