Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mueller Industries Fined for Safety and Health Violations

FULTON, Miss. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued three Mueller Industries Inc. subsidiaries in Fulton 128 citations for allegedly exposing workers to safety and health hazards. The privately-held corporation headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., owns and operates 20 facilities located in eight states and two foreign countries.
OSHA began its investigation in July 2009 after a maintenance worker employed by Mueller Copper Tube Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Mueller Industries, was killed, and two other workers were injured when naphtha, a flammable liquid of hydrocarbon mixtures, leaked from an electric pump and ignited.

"Mueller Industries subsidiaries' dangerous practices exposed workers at their facilities to a variety of hazards that ultimately took one worker's life," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "The significant fines of $683,000 cannot replace this worker's life or bring peace to the family, but they will go a long way in letting this employer know disregarding worker safety and health will not be tolerated."

Mueller Copper Tube has been issued willful, repeat and serious citations. A willful citation with a penalty of $40,000 alleges the failure to repair a corroded live electrical disconnect, which exposed workers to electrical shock. Ten repeat citations with penalties of $150,000 allege failure to guard machinery; unsafe electrical equipment and practices; and failure to label hazardous chemicals. Sixty-nine serious citations, with proposed penalties of $223,500, allege unsafe cranes; fall hazards; unsafe ladders; blocked and inadequate exits; unsafe flammable liquid and compressed gas use and storage; locking out hazardous energy sources during maintenance and service; a lack of machine guards; unsafe electrical equipment and practices; and failure to establish a respiratory protection program.

The initial safety inspection at Mueller Cooper Tube was expanded to include Mueller Fittings LLC and Mueller Packaging LLC, two additional subsidiaries of Mueller Industries. Mueller Fittings has been issued 22 serious citations, with penalties of $64,000, alleging the failure to lock out energy sources, unsafe propane storage and handling, overexposure to noise, unsafe material storage, and the likelihood of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Eight repeat citations also have been issued, with penalties of $102,500, alleging a lack of machine guarding, electrical hazards and the inadequate labeling of hazardous chemicals.

Mueller Packaging has been issued 12 serious citations, with penalties of $28,000, alleging unsafe crane operation, failing to lock out sources of hazardous energy, hazardous chemical exposures, and overexposure to noise; five repeat citations, with penalties of $75,000, alleging an unsafe forklift modification, electrical hazards and inadequate labeling under the hazard communication standard; and one other-than-serious violation, with no penalty, for an electrical deficiency.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The sites were inspected by staff from OSHA's Jackson Area Office, 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210; telephone 601-965-4606.

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

From osha.gov

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DOL Surpasses Government Target for High Value datasets

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today made six high-value datasets publicly available — twice the number designated as the first target in the Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative. The datasets released today include information from the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which will make it possible for anyone in the public to better track health and safety conditions in the American workplace. Earlier this month — two weeks ahead of schedule — the Labor Department launched its own transparency Web page (http://www.dol.gov/open). The page tracks the department's efforts to comply with the administration's Open Government Directive.

"This administration's efforts to transform the federal government into a transparent institution are unprecedented and a testament to our president's commitment to promote and facilitate the involvement of Americans in their government," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "I am proud of the important steps that my department already has taken to improve transparency, and I look forward to building on them."

Aside from the six datasets released today, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics previously released dozens of datasets highlighting employment projections, trends, surveys and statistics, and OSHA made available a dataset to report weekly fatalities and catastrophes as reported by its area offices.

In accordance with the administration's Open Government Directive issued in December 2009, the Department of Labor uploaded the information released today to Data.gov. The administration's directive established a new standard for government agencies, insisting that by specific dates they achieve key milestones in transparency, collaboration and participation.

The six datasets released today by the Department of Labor are listed below:

OSHA Data Initiative — Establishment Specific Injury and Illness Rates
http://www.data.gov/details/1461 Also see on OSHA's Web site at http://www.osha.gov/pls/odi/establishment_search.html
Each year, OSHA collects work-related injury and illness data from employers within specific industry and employment size specifications. This data collection is known as the OSHA Data Initiative or ODI. The data are used by OSHA to calculate establishment specific injury and illness incidence rates. Data from 1996 to 2007 are searchable online.

Department of Labor Research and Evaluation Inventory
This inventory is the first phase in the development of a single repository of all completed and planned research and evaluation projects that have or will be conducted by the Labor Department during the upcoming calendar year.

This dataset includes: a title and description of each project; the date the project began; the date the project was published with a link to completed research and evaluation project outcomes as these become available; and information on contract or grant resources, if applicable. The database will be updated on a monthly basis.

Project GATE (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship)
Project GATE was a random-assignment demonstration project designed to help public workforce system clients create, sustain or expand their own businesses. A total of 4,198 applicants to Project GATE were randomly assigned to either the program group or the control group. This set represents the final data from the evaluation and includes administrative data from the six- and 18-month follow-ups and survey data from the six-, 18- and 60-month follow-ups of program participants.

Public Workforce System Dataset (PWSD)
The PWSD is a dataset that can be used to answer questions about various public workforce system programs and how these programs fit in with the overall public workforce system and the economy. It was designed primarily to be used as a tool to understand what has been occurring in the Wagner-Peyser program and contains data from quarter one of 1995 through quarter four of 2008. Also, it was designed to understand the relationship and flow of participants as they go through the public workforce system.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Net Impact Evaluation Dataset
The evaluation employs administrative data from 12 states, covering approximately 160,000 WIA participants and nearly 3 million comparison group members. Focusing on participants who entered WIA programs between July 2003 and June 2005, the evaluation considers the impact for all those in the program, the impact for those receiving only core or intensive services, and the incremental impact of training services.

Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) Registered Farm Labor Contractor Listing
The MSPA requires a contractor to obtain federal certification prior to performing any farm labor contracting activities.

from osha.gov

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oregon OSHA fines Americold Logistics $740,400 for safety violations in Milwaukie

(Salem) - The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) has fined Americold Logistics a total of $740,400 for extensive
safety and health violations found during a Sept. 16, 2009 inspection at the company’s
Milwaukie facility. By not having proper safeguards in place to contain ammonia, the company
was putting workers in serious danger of injury or death due to a major chemical release or
explosion, Oregon OSHA found.

“Ammonia carries significant risks to workers, particularly in large quantities,” said Michael
Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator. “Due to the size of this facility, there is the potential for a
large-scale release.”

Oregon OSHA cited Americold Logistics, a national refrigerated warehouse operation, for 10
willful violations, four serious repeat violations, and 22 other serious violations of the Oregon
Safe Employment Act. The bulk of the violations are related to the company’s system for
handling the hazardous chemical anhydrous ammonia, which is common in commercial
warehouses and can be explosive. Ammonia can also cause severe alkaline chemical burns to
skin, eyes, and the respiratory system. If a chemical leak occurs, ammonia released from such a
system will expand rapidly, making it difficult to contain.

Among other issues, the inspection identified excessive ice build up, creating the potential for
system damage and in some cases encasing valves, making it difficult, if not impossible, to close
them in the event of an emergency. The inspection also identified significant corrosion of pipes
and missing drain valve plugs, making ammonia release more likely.

Oregon OSHA previously conducted an accident investigation at the Milwaukie location in
2007, after two employees were sent to the hospital following an ammonia compressor
explosion. As a result of that inspection, which was limited in scope, 18 violations were issued.
“Protecting workers from highly hazardous chemicals should be the result of a credible program
of inspections, hazard identification, and preventive maintenance to ensure the system’s
integrity,” Wood said. “The safety of the facility’s workers must not be left to chance.”


Oregon OSHA, 350 Winter St. NE, Room 430, Salem, Oregon 97301-3878

Another critical component in such a complex facility is accurately documenting regular
inspections and testing, to allow for appropriate tracking and follow-up. In the Americold
facility, the inspection found that company managers had documented the presence of safety
measures that were not in place.

Oregon OSHA also cited the employer for violations of asbestos safety standards, due to
damaged insulation.

The company has 30 days to appeal the citation.

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the
state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for
all Oregon workers. The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest
business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit www.orosha.org.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

US Department of Labor announces grant exceeding $1.6 million to assist workers in Florida affected by mortgage industry layoffs

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a $1,661,173 grant to assist about 600 workers affected by layoffs at the Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp. and its subsidiary companies in north/central Florida.

"This grant will provide valuable retraining and job search assistance to help workers in Florida find jobs that pay supporting wages. That's an important step, as our nation's economic recovery will not be complete until displaced workers are able to reenter the workforce and get back on their feet," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Awarded to the Citrus Levy Marion Regional Workforce Development Board Inc., this grant will be operated by the Withlacoochee Workforce Development Authority Inc. It will provide affected workers with access to dislocated worker services. These services may include skills assessment, basic skills training, individual career counseling and occupational skills training.

The Citrus Levy Marion Regional Workforce Development Board Inc. plans to prepare many of these workers for occupations in the health care and information technology industries.

Layoffs at the Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp. and its subsidiary companies took place between Aug. 5 and Oct. 1, 2009.

Of the $1,661,173 announced today, $954,077 will be released initially. Additional funding up to the approved amount will be made available as the grantee demonstrates a continued need for assistance. The amount released today will be funded by resources made available for National Emergency Grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor's discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines. For more information, visit http://www.doleta.gov/NEG/.

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US Department of Labor's OSHA announces 'OSHA Listens' public meeting to solicit comments and suggestions from stakeholders

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced a public meeting, "OSHA Listens," to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency. The meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST in Washington, D.C.

"Public involvement in the government's activities is a priority for this administration and is important to enhancing OSHA efforts to protect the safety and health of workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "This public meeting gives us an opportunity to hear your ideas, suggestions and comments on key issues facing this agency."

Some of the questions OSHA invites public input on include:

What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards?

What are the most important emerging or unaddressed health and safety issues in the workplace, and what can OSHA do to address these?

How can the agency improve its efforts to engage stakeholders in programs and initiatives?

Are there additional measures to improve the effectiveness of the agency's current compliance assistance efforts and the onsite consultation program to ensure small businesses have the information needed to provide safe workplaces?

What specific actions can the agency take to enhance the voice of workers in the workplace, particularly workers who are hard to reach, who do not have ready access to information about hazards or their rights, or who are afraid to exercise their rights?

The public meeting will be held at the Frances Perkins Building auditorium, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. To attend and/or make an oral presentation, individuals must register by e-mail at stakeholder.meeting@dol.gov by close of business on Feb. 3. In the e-mail, include:

Your name, title, company or organization (if applicable), address, telephone number and e-mail address.

If you wish to make a short presentation, the specific topic or issue to be addressed.

Those unable to attend may send written comments to OSHA Docket Office, Docket Number OSHA-2010-0004, Technical Data Center, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20210, or submit them via e-mail to stakeholder.meeting@dol.gov. Identify all comments with the docket number.

Public meeting scheduled for Feb. 10 in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the scope of the meeting, attending the meeting or providing written comments, refer to the Federal Register notice at http://www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-00814_PI.pdf.

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MillerCoors Grain Elevator in Golden, Colo., recognized by US Labor Department's OSHA for excellence in occupational safety and health

GOLDEN, Colo.R -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized the management and employees of the MillerCoors McIntyre Grain Elevator in Golden for achievement in its employee safety and health program.
The site, which processes, stores and distributes barley, was designated a VPP "star" site, the highest level of recognition that OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) offers. A VPP star site meets or exceeds safety and health program elements that far exceed minimum OSHA standards.

"The McIntyre Elevator is a true leader in employee safety and health, especially in the grain processing industry and we are very fortunate to have such high quality workplaces in our region," said Bob Glover, assistant regional administrator for OSHA in Denver. "This is the fourth grain elevator in the company to be recognized by OSHA for safety and health excellence."

An OSHA VPP flag and plaque were presented to the McIntyre team at the January 14 ceremony.

OSHA's recognition programs include the VPP for employers and employees who have implemented exemplary workplace safety and health management systems. In the VPP, management, labor and OSHA work cooperatively and proactively to prevent injuries, illnesses and workplace hazards. As part of attaining VPP status, employers must demonstrate management commitment to the safety and health of their employees and actively involve employees in the safety and health management system.

For additional information on the VPP, contact regional VPP Manager Brad Baptiste at 720-264-6555 in Denver.

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

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

OSHA respirator and facemask safety guidance videos

WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed two new videos for healthcare workers that feature training and guidance on respirator safety.
OSHA's "Respirator Safety" video demonstrates how to correctly put on and take off common types of respirators, such as N95s. "The Difference between Respirators and Surgical Masks" video explains how they prevent exposure to infectious diseases.

"Respirators play an important role in protecting many workers from exposure to chemical and biological hazards in the workplace," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "At a time when pandemic influenza has highlighted the risk to healthcare workers, these videos will prepare and protect workers from the very illnesses they are responsible for treating."

The videos also explain how workers can perform a user seal check to test whether a respirator is worn properly and will provide the expected level of protection. Viewers may watch both English and Spanish versions by visiting OSHA's Respiratory Protection page or the Department of Labor's YouTube site.

According to OSHA's respiratory protection standard 29 CFR 1910.134, respirators must be used as part of a comprehensive respiratory protection plan.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Cal-OSHA Reporter's Jan. 4 flash report about the recall of 3M 8000 respirators made reference to the "8000 series." That term has triggered a deluge of questions to Cal/OSHA about whether other 3M respirators are affected by the recall, which was ordered when health-care employers reported an unacceptably high failure rate during fit tests.

For instance, Craig Brown, senior industrial hygienist for the VHA Center for Engineering & Occupational Safety and Health in Pittsburgh, Pa., notes that there are several sub-series of the 3M 8000 N95 respirators with different face molds, such as 8210, 8211, 8511, 8612, 8670 and more.

The only respirators that have been recalled are the 8000s, says DOSH Senior Safety Engineer Deborah Gold. "Other N95 respirators are not affected by the alert," she says.

From osha.gov and cal-osha.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

US Department of Labor's OSHA provides workplace H1N1 influenza precaution and protection information for workers and employers

New Web site offers fact sheets with practical information
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued commonsense fact sheets that employers and workers can use to promote safety during the current H1N1 influenza outbreak.

The fact sheets inform employers and workers about ways to reduce the risk of exposure to the 2009 H1N1 virus at work. Separate fact sheets for health care workers, who carry out tasks and activities that require close contact with 2009 H1N1 patients, contain additional precautions.

"Protecting our nation's workers is OSHA's top priority," said Jordan Barab, the agency's acting assistant secretary. "These fact sheets are tools we have developed to help ensure America's workers stay healthy and our businesses remain viable. OSHA's new fact sheets will help all employers identify appropriate actions to protect their workers."

OSHA's "Workplace Safety and H1N1" Web site provides easy to understand information appropriate for all workplaces and more extensive guidance for those involved in higher risk health care activities. The fact sheets are advisory in nature and informational in content.

As new information about the 2009 H1N1 virus becomes available, these workplace fact sheets will be updated. Employers and workers should review OSHA's http://www.osha.gov/h1n1 site often to ensure they have the most up-to-date information when making decisions about their operations and planning.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information about the agency, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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OSHA announces informal public hearing on hazard communication rule

WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold three informal public hearings to accept comments and testimony on the proposed rule to align the agency's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

The first hearing will begin March 2 at 9:30 a.m. in the auditorium of the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Additional hearings are scheduled for March 31 in Pittsburgh and April 13 in Los Angeles. OSHA will provide the location for the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles hearings in a future notice.

A number of countries, including the United States, and international organizations participated in developing the GHS to address inconsistencies in hazard classification and communications. The system provides a single, harmonized system to classify chemicals, labels and safety data sheets with the primary benefit of increasing the quality and consistency of information provided to workers, employers and chemical users.

Those interested in attending the hearings must provide a notice of intention to appear by January 18, 2010. Notices may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Notices can also be submitted by regular mail to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-H022K-2006-0062, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. 20210. Submissions not exceeding 10 pages can be faxed to the OSHA Docket Office at 202-693-1648.

Technical inquiries should be directed to Maureen Ruskin, OSHA, Office of Chemical Hazards-Metals, 202-693-1950. Press inquiries should be directed to Jennifer Ashley, OSHA, Office of Communications, 202-693-1999.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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US Department of Labor unveils new 'Open Government' efforts

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a broad array of efforts designed to improve the public's accessibility to its agencies and ensure the department can function more effectively. The work is part of the Obama Administration's continued commitment to improved accountability, transparency and service to the American public.

"True progress is not something that happens to people. It happens because of them. And, it all begins with information that can be shared in a timely and effective manner," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "People deserve to know what their government is doing on their behalf, and what they can do to participate actively in that work. I am proud of the steps we are taking to make that possible, and I look forward to broadening our efforts further."

Previously, only the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration posted worker fatality data on its Web site. Now, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also systematically publishing employer-specific information about occupational fatalities online and making these data available for easy download. Comprehensive, weekly reports on this topic are now available at http://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/dep_fatcat.html. Employers with reported fatalities will have an incentive to take steps to improve safety and prevent future accidents. In addition, responsible employers will be able to use the database to identify dangerous conditions and take precautions.

Other agencies at the department are also making additional information available to the public. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is contributing a vast array of new information to http://www.data.gov, enhancing its already impressive searchable databases. The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, meanwhile, recently launched a Web-based competition at http://www.dol.gov/challenge. It enlists entrepreneurs and technology firms, workforce professionals and the public to help identify the best online tools to enable America's job seekers to quickly and easily connect with jobs.

The department's commitment to enhance participation also extends to the regulatory arena. On Monday, Dec. 7, the department rolled out its regulatory agenda entirely online. All of the information - including more than eight hours of Web chats with the secretary of labor and other Department of Labor officials - can be viewed at http://www.dol.gov/regulations. The Web page also contains links to resources and testimonials, and it even helps visitors submit comments to specific regulations.

"As a legislator, I always felt it was essential for people to take part in the processes of their government. As a regulator, I feel exactly the same way," added Solis.

The department also has launched an extremely successful weekly e-newsletter, which offers readers the latest details in everything from the department's enforcement and compliance assistance to job openings at its various agencies. Not content with one-way communication, however, the department is also using social media tools to engage the public online - and tapping into the power of crowd sourcing. In fact, the Department of Labor's presence on Facebook and Twitter is already helping to link knowledge communities together and speeding up the sharing of valuable information among the department, state workforce agencies, a variety of stakeholders and, most importantly, the American public.

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