OSHA watch

OSHA regulatory agenda released

A final rule on silica could come as early as February, according to the fall regulatory agenda, which outlines the projected dates (often missed) and steps for all regulatory actions.

Other final rules expected in early 2016:

  • Revision of procedures to obtain employee medical information (January)
  • Improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses (March)
  • Eye and face protection (March)
  • Slips, trips and falls (April)

 

DOL & DOJ agreement gives bite to criminal prosecution of employers

A recent agreement between the Departments of Labor and Justice will launch a “new world of worker safety” by holding managers and supervisors criminally accountable for violations of the law, agency officials announced Dec. 17. The two departments signed a memorandum of understanding that pools their resources toward the prosecution of individuals who willfully disregard labor and environmental statutes. This cooperation could lead to hefty fines and prison terms for employers and individuals convicted of violating a number of related laws. For example, a Jenkintown, Pa.-based roofing contractor, James J. McCullagh Roofing, Inc. recently pleaded guilty to violating an OSHA law, lying to inspectors and attempting to cover up his crime and could be sentenced up to 25 years in prison.

New bulletin on carbon monoxide explosion hazards in electric arc furnaces

A new bulletin provides information on how to protect workers from carbon monoxide explosion hazards related to electric arc furnaces in the steelmaking industry.

Workers’ comp insurers named in employer safety citations

Press releases aimed at publicly shaming employers with safety citations and fines above $40,000 have recently included names of the cited employers’ workers’ compensation insurers – a new practice according to observers.

Tools to help prevent workplace violence in healthcare settings

A new webpage provides employers and workers with strategies and tools for preventing workplace violence in healthcare settings. It includes real-life examples from healthcare organizations that have incorporated successful workplace violence prevention programs, and models of how a workplace violence prevention program can complement and enhance an organization’s strategies for compliance and a culture of safety.

Appropriations deal freezes funding and delays enforcement of a new interpretation for a Process Safety Management Standard

The appropriations deal level funded OSHA and contains a provision delaying enforcement of a new interpretation for the Process Safety Management Standard that would have limited an exemption for retail establishments selling small quantities of hazardous chemicals. The provision bars funding for enforcing the interpretation until a formal rule is adopted.

“It’s the Law!” poster now available in 10 languages

The free Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law! poster is now available online in French, Arabic and Vietnamese. This is in addition to the versions that were already available in English, Chinese, Korean, Nepali, Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese.

Cal/OSHA updates construction pocket safety guide to promote safety and compliance in the industry

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Cal/OSHA have updated the free “Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry.” This frequently requested publication allows workers, employers and supervisors to quickly reference key safety requirements.

New MIOSHA injury and illness reporting requirements in effect

Effective January 1, employers in the state of Michigan are now required to report any work-related amputation, loss of an eye, or in-patient hospitalization of any employee to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within 24 hours of the incident.

On September 1, 2015, MIOSHA implemented the new injury-reporting requirement, similar to the requirements of federal OSHA that became effective January 1, 2015. However, enforcement could not occur until the previous requirement was removed from the MIOSH Act, which occurred with the recent enactment of Public Act 199 of 2015.

 

Recent fines and awards

California

  • Dignity Health, operator of Northridge Hospital Medical Center, faces fines of $44,125 for exposing its employees to bloodborne pathogens hazards.
  • The owner/operator of Great America theme park was found to be at fault for a roller coaster accident that critically injured a ride mechanic and was issued citations with penalties totaling $70,200 for eight workplace safety violations.
  • Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in Vallejo was fined $149,900 for exposing workers to injury and infection from used needles at the hospital’s collection box for biomedical waste.
  • Water well services company, M&W Pumps, Inc., from Santa Maria was found to be at fault for an electrocution accident that killed one worker and seriously injured another when a pump hoist made contact with a live overhead power line. The company was cited $16,895 for six violations including one serious and one serious accident-related in nature.
  • Quantum Energy Storage Corporation in Poway was cited for $58,025 as a result of an explosion caused by an out-of-control 11,000-pound metal flywheel. One worker suffered a broken ankle and three others were treated for abrasion injuries caused by flying debris from the explosion.

 

Massachusetts

  • Woburn-based Force Corp. was cited after an inspector driving by a North Andover worksite saw three employees at risk of falling up to 18 feet while doing a roofing job. Proposed penalties: $91,000.
  • An inspection conducted in response to a complaint, found North Grafton manufacturing plant, Wyman Gordon, exposed employees to mechanical and electrical hazards. The company was cited for three repeat and 10 serious violations and faces $145,000 in fines.

 

Missouri

  • Two years after a worker died by electrocution at a steel plant owned by St. Louis Cold Drawn, inspectors, responding to a complaint, found the company continues to expose its workforce, predominantly consisting of Asian immigrants with limited English speaking skills, to amputation, electrical and other hazards daily. St. Louis Cold Drawn Inc. was cited for two willful, seven repeated and 22 serious safety and health violations. Proposed penalties total $366,300.
  • RCL Wiring LP, which operates as Idaho & Sedalia Transportation Company, was found to have harassed and terminated a signal shop technician in retaliation for reporting a work-related injury. The company was ordered to give the employee his job back and pay more than $332,469 in back wages and damages, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • Three workers were hospitalized when more than 30 pallets of glass bottles filled with coffee drinks collapsed at a Springfield warehouse and repacking facility operated by Buske Logistics. Two of the injured were temporary workers. The company was cited for one willful and 10 serious safety violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $101,500 and was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
  • At FW Warehousing Inc., operating as M J Resurrection Inc., St. Louis, forklift operators were found to be exposed to 20-foot fall, trip hazards while working in low-light conditions. The proposed fines are $69,300.

 

New York

  • Bronx hair salon, Salon Zoe, must pay $165K to a fired employee who warned co-workers of formaldehyde hazards, and take additional corrective actions.
  • An employee of St. Charles/Resurrection Cemeteries in Farmingdale was working for St. John Cemetery Corp., which owns and operates five cemeteries in the greater New York City area when the walls of the grave where he was working collapsed, burying him to his waist. The company was cited for two willful and three serious violations with proposed fees of $123,200.

 

Minnesota

  • Merit Construction Services Inc. of Farmington, Minnesota was cited for exposing workers to falls and other injuries at a parking structure in Milwaukee because it failed to provide fall protection, and label and secure hole covers to prevent falls. Proposed penalties: $44,800.

 

North Carolina

  • Following the deaths of three construction workers in Raleigh, Associated Scaffolding Company Inc. faces fines of $151,900 for overloading the scaffolding and failing to brace it properly.

 

Pennsylvania

  • Havertown-based, DMAC Construction LLC allegedly failed to provide employees with fall protection, resulting in a willful violation and a proposed penalty of $70,000. The owner of the company has a history of exposing workers to safety hazards and is in the Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP).
  • Tarentum manufacturer, RESCO Products Inc., doing business as Worldwide Refractories, again was cited for exposing employees to electrical and other safety hazards. An inspection initiated under the Site Specific Targeting for industries with high injury and illness rates led to proposed fines of more than $40,000.
  • Milton manufacturer, ACF Industries LLC, was cited for workplace safety and health hazards after an employee sustains 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns. Inspectors found that the employee was a blasting machine operator trainee and not a trained, qualified electrician; the employee was not provided with the proper personal protective equipment; and the electrical service had not been de-energized or locked out while the fuse was being changed. Citations totaled $87,000.
  • Initiated in response to a complaint alleging employees were working in a trench without cave-in protection, an inspection found a main line utility construction company, Anrich Inc, exposed employees to cave-in hazards in a nearly 8-foot deep trench. Proposed penalties: $57,750.
  • In response to a complaint, Portersville Sales & Testing Inc., a gas tubes and truck trailer manufacturing company, was again cited for exposing employees to safety and health hazards. Proposed penalties: $43,600.
  • Luzerne County box manufacturer, Midvale Paper Box Co. Inc., failed to abate safety violations and continued exposing workers to hazards. Proposed penalties: $103,200.

 

Texas

  • Longhorn Contractors was cited for three serious, two repeated and one other violation found at an apartment complex work site in Kyle after a worker fell 35 feet to his death. Proposed fines total $47,850. In a second investigation of the company, a fall hazard was observed at a construction work site in Live Oak and the company received three repeat and one serious violation with fines totaling $32,340.
  • After a worker sustained fatal injuries from a defective crane, Trans Global Solutions Inc of Vidor, petrochemical loading and unloading facility, was cited with a willful violation for operating a defective crane and seven serious violations for failing to conduct inspections and address electrical and drowning hazards. Proposed penalties: $109,000.
  • Framing contractor, Jose Luis Hernandez, cited for failing to report hospitalizations and exposing workers to various hazards at a Fort Worth construction site. Proposed penalties: $44,600.

 

Wisconsin

  • LC United Painting of Sterling Heights was cited for 40 serious violations after a worker fell inside a water tower and suffered severe injuries. Proposed penalties total $178,640.
  • Wilson-Hurd Manufacturing Co. of Berlin was cited for two repeated and one serious safety violations after a worker’s right middle finger was fractured when it was caught in an unguarded mechanical power press machine. Proposed penalties: $43,560.

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

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