Thursday, October 22, 2009

US Labor Department's OSHA issues report

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a report on Nevada's occupational safety and health program that reveals a number of serious concerns with the program's operation, including failure to issue appropriate willful and repeat citations, poorly trained inspectors and lack of follow-up to determine whether hazards were abated. The comprehensive evaluation of the Nevada OSHA plan points to an urgent need for corrections in oversight and changes in all phases of its workplace safety and health program.

Twenty-five workplace deaths occurred in Nevada from January 2008 through June 2009. Those deaths, in addition to extensive media coverage revealing Nevada OSHA's poor handling of the fatality investigations and several serious complaints filed with federal OSHA about Nevada's state plan administration, compelled OSHA's investigation.

"The safety of workers must be priority one, and the U.S. Department of Labor is stepping up review of state OSHA plans to ensure that is the case," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "I am pleased that Nevada OSHA cooperated fully throughout the evaluation process and that the state agency's new leadership has pledged to take prompt corrective action."

Between July and August 2009, OSHA monitors evaluated Nevada's workplace fatality investigations, as well as information from all Nevada OSHA inspections conducted from January 2008 through June 2009. OSHA identified a number of systemic issues that caused great concern: Identified hazards were not cited, families of deceased workers were not notified of fatality investigations nor provided opportunities to speak to investigators – though family members may provide information pertinent to a case, and Nevada OSHA investigators demonstrated limited knowledge of construction safety hazards.

The details of OSHA's Nevada report raised concerns about OSHA's monitoring of all state plan states. Jordan Barab, the Labor Department's acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA, added, "As a result of the deficiencies identified in Nevada OSHA's program and this administration's goal to move from reaction to prevention, we will strengthen the oversight, monitoring and evaluation of all state programs."

Barab also pointed out the benefits of state programs: "Many state programs have shown they have the flexibility to deal with workplace hazards that are sometimes not addressed by federal OSHA, and we strongly support their initiative and dedication."

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages states to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. Federal OSHA approves and monitors the state plans and provides up to 50 percent of an approved plan's operating costs. Nevada, one of 27 states and American territories approved to operate its own safety and health enforcement program, has been a state plan state since December 1973. OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education.


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Radiation exposure among hazards addressed in OSHA bulletin on particle accelerators

WASHINGTON - The increasing use of special purpose particle accelerators has prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) identifying the risks and providing information on the safe operation of these devices.

Special purpose particle accelerators use electrostatic or electromagnetic fields to increase the speed of electrically charged particles and direct the particles to collide with each other or other targets. In the medical field, accelerator-produced particle beams or X-rays are directed at cancerous tumors that are not reachable by other methods. Although accelerators can target life-threatening growths within the body, these devices can also potentially expose serious risks to operators.

"Based on safety and health inspections and audits that OSHA conducted, workers are potentially exposed to harmful radiation, electrical hazards from high-voltage cable systems, oxygen-deficient atmospheres and confined spaces," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Workers will suffer fewer injuries and illnesses if employers follow the safety measures specified in this bulletin and in OSHA standards."

The SHIB identifies specific safety and health risks and describes OSHA standards and regulations to protect workers. OSHA standards include requirements that employers apply lockout/tagout procedures to prevent unexpected startup of machinery, have a fire protection safety program and provide workers with personal protective equipment.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cal/OSHA moves to strengthen heat illness prevention regulations

The Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) today has filed a proposal with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to amend California’s first of its kind heat illness prevention regulations. This action follows the July 16 request by Governor Schwarzenegger to strengthen and improve the standards to protect outdoor workers from the hot summer sun.

“Today we are moving to clarify amendments to the standards and to ensure that we provide the necessary measures to improve upon our first in the nation regulation to protect outdoor workers from the summer heat,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “This package will, among other things, include a requirement for shade to be present at all times and a trigger for shade to be up when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees. It also makes it clear that employees have the right to take a rest in the shade whenever they feel the need to do so to prevent themselves from overheating.”

Earlier clarifying proposals were submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for adoption as emergency amendments to the heat illness standard on June 18 and July 16, but the Board did not adopt the amendments as an emergency. Today the amendments are being resubmitted through the standard rule making process.

“Our efforts to strengthen the heat illness prevention regulations will continue until we obtain the clarity needed to promote the most effective compliance with the standard,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Len Welsh. “These proposed amendments will provide greater protection for outdoor workers and address questions raised among some employers about how to comply with the standard.”

Under the Governor’s leadership, California became the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation addressing heat illness in 2005. Cal/OSHA issued permanent heat illness prevention regulations to protect outdoor workers in 2006. The current regulations require that the employer make shade available, provide drinking water, provide training to both supervisors and workers, and requires that the written heat illness prevention program include a plan for summoning emergency responders.

Enforcement of the heat illness preventions standards continues to be a priority, especially during times of high heat. Since the recent heat wave began on July 11, Cal/OSHA has conducted 176 inspections of outdoor workplaces identifying over 230 violations while checking for compliance to the heat illness prevention regulations. This year Cal/OSHA has conducted 1,971 targeted inspections and identified 507 violations of the safety and health standards.

Since 2005 when enforcement of the heat illness prevention regulations began, 5,588 inspections have been conducted with over 2,355 violations found. The number of inspections conducted during each year since 2005 as exceeded the number conducted during the previous year. Last year's total was 2,583 and this year Cal/OSHA is again on target to beat the previous year's numbers.

An increased effort has been placed on expanding outreach to train outdoor workers and employers. The state budget just signed has authorized the spending of $1.5 million to expand upon the extraordinary outreach efforts already in place to educate workers and employers about the necessity of heat illness prevention.

This effort will help to expand Cal/OSHA's successful participation and partnership with industry, labor, and community groups. This year a total of 934 heat illness prevention outreach activities have been conducted, including seminars, presentations, training sessions, with both workers and their employers.

The development of a partnership with a coalition of seventeen agricultural groups, including the California Farm Bureau and Nisei Farmers League, has expanded training from farm labor contractors, to crew leaders and the growers who hire them. Over 4,000 have attended this training series since it was launched in March.

Community partnerships have been established with Catholic Dioceses across the state to provide a supportive environment to reach out to migrant workers. The Diocese of Fresno and Monterey have worked with Cal/OSHA to train key migrant leaders and volunteers in the agriculture community on educating workers about heat illness prevention. Cal/OSHA trainers have also held informational meetings and distributed heat illness educational pamphlets out to Spanish and Mixteco monolingual migrant workers directly.

An important partnership was established with the California Department of Education’s Migrant Education program in 2008 to bring important heat illness prevention training to teachers and administrators statewide who have then educated students and their families about heat stress and their rights. Each year the Migrant Education programs reaches out to approximately 300,000 migrant families.

Health fairs and community events in key areas across the state have also been a popular approach by Cal/OSHA to distribute materials and speaking directly with the public about this important subject. Since the regulation was first implemented in 2005 Cal/OSHA has participated in over 2,300 outreach events.

For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.


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OSHA revises enforcement policies for fall protection during steel erection

WASHINGTON - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revised the steel erection compliance directive for the agency's Steel Erection Standard to change two enforcement policies related to tripping hazards and installation of nets or floors during steel erection.

One of the revised policies addresses the standard's requirement that employers install a floor or net within two stories or 30 feet, whichever is less.

The other policy states that employers must comply with the requirement that steel studs, known as shear connectors, be installed at the worksite. Shear connectors bind concrete to the steel.

"Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "We are intent on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry and believe these policy revisions will help us attain that goal."

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007 data show that 1,204 fatalities occurred in the construction industry, 447 of which resulted from falls. The steel erection standard sets forth requirements to protect workers from the hazards associated with steel erection activities when constructing, altering, and repairing single and multi-story buildings, bridges, and other structures where steel erection occurs.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cal/OSHA Diacetyl Regulation Finally Published

After more than two years of work, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the Cal/OSH Standards Board have unveiled a first-in-the-nation regulatory proposal to control exposures to the potentially deadly flavorings chemical diacetyl. The proposal is in a comment period that ends with a Standards Board public hearing Nov. 19 in Costa Mesa.

The standard, General Industry Safety Orders §5197, would apply to all flavor and food manufacturing facilities that use diacetyl and flavorings that contain 1% or greater concentration of the chemical.

Facilities covered by the standard would be required to perform an exposure assessment to determine the concentration of airborne diacetyl each worker is exposed to as an eight-hour, time-weighted average. It also would require employers to establish a regulated area for each process using diacetyl, unless the employer uses a closed process.

Further, such employers would have to use engineering and work practice controls to reduce diacetyl and ensure that employees use respirators whenever they are in a regulated area. The standard also requires medical surveillance of workers, including health questionnaires, pulmonary function tests and medical removal for up to six months for employees to reduce exposure to diacetyl, if recommended by a physician or other licensed health care professional. And they would be required to prepare Material Safety Data Sheets for products containing more than 0.1% of diacetyl.

Additionally, employers would be required to report to DOSH any "flavor-related" diagnosis of fixed obstructive lung disease within 24 hours of becoming aware of it.

The public hearing is at 10 a.m., Nov. 19 at Costa Mesa City Hall, 77 Fair Dr.

**This has been taken from
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Choosing an Online OSHA School

Like many of us, you are in search of a quality, online safety school. You might be interested in an OSHA Outreach 10 hour course or a 40 hour HAZWOPER course, but before you jump the gun, here are a few things to consider when making the choice.

1. Content Providers

Now this is something that most people don't know, but for the thousands of online safety school providers out there, there are only a handful of content providers. This means that in a nut shell, most of the websites out there are selling the exact same course. This is a good thing because it narrows down the list in a big way. The two big names out there are 360Training and ClickSafety. I find 360Training to be a great choice when choosing a content provider because they provide 24 hour support 7 days a week, including live chat and a toll free number, their media loads quickly and is updated regularly.

2. General Aesthetic

General Aesthetic in this sense refers to how a website looks. It may not matter much to you, but I find that if i'm spending 10 to 40 hours on one website, an obnoxious website can make that experience go from bad to worse. Generally, something nice and clean is always preferable. The look of a website can also be a good indicator of how much the owner cares about the website, and thus how much they care about their customers.

3. Customer Feedback

It might seem obvious to check the customer feedback of an online business, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who give out their credit card information to a shady company without even considering the legitimacy of the company. Keep in mind that a lack of feedback is just that. It is neither a good omen nor a bad omen, it just means that either the company has no negative feedback or is relatively new.

4. Price

This part of the search is pretty straight forward. Since most of the websites are selling the same course, there's not necessarily a "You get what you pay for" mentality. Most websites will be offering the course for about the same price, but there is a way to get more for less. Some websites like Easy Safety School provide study guides ($49.00 value) and standard books (up to $150.00 value) free of charge with the price of enrollment. They also provide a huge amount of free OSHA publications, pocket guides, posters and more. Whether you need or want these free items is up to you, but If it's free, why not?


Choosing an online safety course provider can be a daunting task, but if you follow these simple guidelines, you should find it to be easy and rewarding. I hope this has helped you.