OSHA watch

Seventh Circuit affirms “willful” violation

In Dukane Precast, Inc. v. Perez, The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the definition of “willful” violation. When a worker for a precast concrete manufacturer fell into a sand bin in which he became engulfed up to his neck and his co-workers were unable to free him, he requested that 911 be called; however, the call was not made until after it became clear co-workers could not free him. The employer was cited for a willful violation for having failed to immediately call rescue services.

To determine whether that violation was “willful,” which is not defined in the statute, the court looked to the statute that provides for civil penalties, 29 U.S.C. § 666(a) and requires proof the employer was aware of the risk, knew that it was serious, knew that effective measures could be taken, and failed to take them. Equating this description to reckless conduct, the Court found the plant manager acted recklessly by delaying the 911 call.

Interim policy allows limited use of pre-2012-compliant hazcom labels

An interim policy issued May 29 allows limited continued use of hazard communication labels that are not yet in compliance with the revised Hazard Communication Standard released in 2012. The compliance date for use of updated labels was June 1.

The new policy provides guidance for manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals; employers that repackage, blend or mix the chemicals; and companies that distribute them. It also provides examples of reasonable diligence and good faith efforts employers might make, including:

  • Finding hazard information from alternative sources
  • Documenting the process used to gather information from upstream suppliers
  • Developing actions for making changes to SDSs and labels once the information becomes available

The memo will be canceled once OSHA issues its Hazard Communication directive, which is expected soon.

Memo identifies hazards for investigators’ focus in healthcare inspections

According to a June 25 agency memorandum the focus of hospital and nursing facility inspections will be on the following hazards:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders related to patient handling
  • Workplace violence
  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Tuberculosis
  • Slips, trips and falls

Compliance officers also will focus on the hazards that prompt the inspections and other identified hazards.

Electrocution and engulfment focus of two new fatal fact sheets

Two new additions to the Fatal Facts series focus on electrocution and engulfment. One describes how two 14-year-old temporary farmworkers died after they were electrocuted when one touched an electrified metal irrigation structure, and the other tried to move the worker from the structure. The second is based on an incident involving a temporary worker in a marine cargo warehouse who fell to the bottom of a sugar hopper where he was engulfed by sugar and suffocated.

Fact sheet on amputations from food slicers, grinders features updated reporting info

A recently released fact sheet on preventing amputations from food slicers and meat grinders incorporates findings from the agency’s new injury reporting requirements.

Employers with slicers and grinders must comply with the Machine Guarding, Hand Protection and Lockout/Tagout standards.

Memos clarify PSM enforcement, adopt EPA test

Two memos issued June 8 are designed to clarify how to determine whether a chemical is at or above the threshold quantity listed under the Process Safety Management Standard. The new enforcement policy adopts EPA’s 1 percent test, which requires employers to calculate if the total weight of a chemical without a specified concentration under PSM’s Appendix A is at 1 percent or greater.

A separate memo also issued June 8, clarifies how to interpret certain language.

DOL flyer, wallet card outline nail-salon worker rights

The Nail Salon Worker Rights flyer and wallet card explain that exposure to certain salon products could result in serious health issues. The documents state that salons must provide Safety Data Sheets for hazardous products, detailing the risks and how to safely use and store the products.

Small-business training tool now features health care scenarios

The Hazard Identification Training Tool, aimed at teaching small-business owners and workers how to locate workplace hazards, now features a health care scenario, in which a user can be an emergency department owner or a safety committee leader in a midsized emergency department. Other scenarios involve manufacturing and construction facilities.

The tool also features new visual inspection training, in which users can observe workers and inspect a housekeeping cart and a patient lift for hazards.

Guidance on providing restroom access for transgender workers

Employers should provide transgender workers with access to restroom facilities based on workers’ gender identity, according to a guidance document published June 1.

Recent fines and awards

Sawmill cited for willful violation following amputation – Georgia

A 29-year-old temporary worker’s left arm was amputated when his jacket was caught in the drive shaft of a conveyor belt at a sawmill operated by Griffin Lumber & Hardware. Griffin Lumber received a willful violation for failing to ensure workers were protected from an unguarded sprocket and chain and faces a proposed penalty of $56,000.

Plastic recycler, Cycle Tex Inc., faces nearly $60,000 in fines – Georgia

In response to a complaint, an inspection of Cycle Tex, Inc. found that the company continues to expose workers to fall and amputation hazards. The company was cited for repeat and serious violations with nearly $60,000 in proposed penalties.

GBW Railcar Services fined for violations after blast injures seven workers – Kansas

An investigation found that GBW Railcar Services exposed workers to fire and explosion hazards by not eliminating potential ignition sources and did not use electrical equipment rated for hazardous locations. After the incident in Cummings, inspectors identified 11 serious safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $46,900.

Temporary staffing company agrees to implement changes to protect employees at all its work sites – Massachusetts

In a settlement agreement, Marathon Staffing Services Inc., which supplies temporary employees to businesses, has agreed to enhance workplace safety and health protections for workers it places. The company received a serious violation in December 2014 for not providing hearing tests for employees exposed to high noise levels while working on assignment at Concrete Systems Inc. in Hudson, New Hampshire.

Ridewell Corp. receives one willful safety violation after employee death – Missouri

Inspectors found that the machine the 31-year employee was working on lacked required safety mechanism and the company was cited for one willful and one additional safety violation. The company also failed to provide the requested First Report of Injury document within the required four-hour timeline, resulting in one other-than-serious violation. Proposed penalties are $71,000.

Employer faces $70,000 fine after worker crushed by 7.600-pound conveyer – Missouri

Federal inspectors cited KCI Inc., which is rebuilding the assembly line at the Ford Motor Co. plant, with one willful safety violation under the general duty clause. The agency determined that KCI did not provide a workplace free of recognized hazards and proposed penalties of $70,000. The agency also cited Ford for not inspecting the assembly line’s construction.

Battery charger manufacturer fined more than $106,000 – Missouri

A 31-year-old assembly technician who had only worked for Ferro Magnetics Corp. for one month was electrocuted while testing transformers. The Bridgeton, Mo., company was cited for failing to supply adequate personal protective equipment and failing to provide training and follow safety procedures. Proposed penalties total $106,400.

Construction company cited in death of heavy equipment operator – Nebraska

Following the death of an employee involved in a towing accident, Gehring Construction & Ready Mix Concrete was cited with one serious violation under the general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free of hazards. Other violations include failing to properly train employees in towing methods, connecting techniques and the usage of appropriate towing components, and not notifying OSHA of the death of the employee within eight hours following a work-related incident. OSHA was notified two-days after the incident. Proposed penalties are $14,630.

Roofing contractor indicted for fatal fall, accused of lying to investigators – Pennsylvania

In a rare criminal prosecution for a workplace fatality, the Department of Justice has charged a roofing company owner with attempting to cover up his failure to provide fall protection for a worker who fell 45 feet to his death. James J. McCullagh, owner of James J. McCullagh Roofing, was charged with four counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice, as well as with willfully violating the Scaffolds Standard.

Construction firm willfully exposed workers to scaffolding, electrocution hazards faces fines of $470,300 – Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania construction company, DMAC Construction, with a history of violations was cited for exposing employees to numerous scaffolding and electrocution hazards at two worksites. Inspections at both sites were prompted by imminent danger notifications just three weeks apart. Proposed penalties total $470,300; the company was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program following citations in 2011 and 2013.

Chemical manufacturing facility cited for injury, amputation risks following fatality – Texas

An inspection prompted by the crushing death of an employee at Venture Chemicals found 18 serious and nine other-than-serious violations, resulting in a proposed penalty of $63,000. Citations were for build-up of combustible dust, electrical violations that could have started a fire, and creating the possibility of amputation or other serious injury by failing to include protective equipment, among others.

Dairy Farm plans to appeal fine – Wisconsin

After a worker died in a grain bin back in November, Burnett Dairy Corporation, a Wisconsin dairy co-op, faces fines of $193,000 for safety violations. Burnett claims that the worker was trained on entering the grain bin and wearing all proper safety equipment and they plan to challenge the citations and fines.

Detailed descriptions of the citations above and other OSHA citations can be found here.

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Author | Speaker | Certified Risk Manager | Certified Work Comp Advisor

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