OSHA watch

Enforcement on part of electrical safety rule delayed

Enforcement of part of the revised rule on electric power generation, transmission and distribution installations has been delayed until at least early 2017. Following legal challenges to the rule’s revised minimum approach distances for voltages of 5.1 kilovolts or greater, the deadline for citations was extended until this past Jan. 31. However, in a new memorandum to agency regional administrators, the enforcement date was pushed back to Jan. 31, 2017.

Manufacturing regional emphasis program launched in Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas

Launched in late January, this program focuses on manufacturers (with more than 10 employees) that have not been inspected in the past five years, and that produce food, furniture, fabricated metal and machinery, among other goods.

Burden of proof eased for whistleblowers on retaliation claims

With a change to the manual outlining procedures for investigators about the handling of retaliation complaints, whistleblowers now do not have to prove conclusively that a violation occurred. Instead, cases will be evaluated by a reasonable cause standard, making it easier for cases to go forward.This shift makes it critical for employers to fully document why they take adverse action against an employee.

NIOSH Ladder Safety app now includes stepladders

NIOSH’s Ladder Safety app, first released in 2013 to provide user-friendly guides and interactive tools for extension ladder selection and safe use, now includes stepladder safety resources and other enhancements based on user input. Visit the NIOSH Ladder Safety Mobile Application webpage to learn more.

New bulletins/hazard alerts

Hydrogen gas purging – new Safety and Health Information Bulletin

Tank gauging – A new hazard alert from the OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identifies health and safety risks to workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks.

“Weight of evidence” to assist in classifying hazardous chemicals – A new draft document outlines how employers can use an approach known as “weight of evidence” to assist in classifying hazardous chemicals.

Scissor lifts – Newly updated hazard alert warns of the dangers of scissor lifts.

Recent fines and awards

Connecticut

  • Stratford-based Whole Life Construction L.L.C. was cited for five repeat and two serious violations of workplace safety standards at a residential roofing job in Bridgeport, and faces proposed $48,400 in fines. Previously cited, the company was placed in the Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP).

Kansas

  • Marshall, Minnesota-based Schwan’s Global Supply Inc., a leading supplier of frozen specialty foods is facing more than $172,000 in fines after two workers at its Salina facility suffered amputations in separate incidents and a third suffered lacerations and burns.

Massachusetts

  • Barnes Building & Management Group of Weymouth was cited for the structural steel collapse at Bryant University that injured six workers. Proposed penalties total $59,290.
  • Skyline Contracting and Roofing Corp. of Taunton was cited for two willful and one serious violation following the death of a worker in an aerial lift tip over. Proposed fines total $102,900.

Missouri

  • Dollar General, a repeat offender, was cited for exposing workers to fall hazards, an incorrectly placed exit sign, and an unlit exit way and emergency exit lighting that did not work, following employee complaints. Proposed penalties are $163,000.

Nebraska

  • Midwest Farmers Cooperative, a feed mill in Martell, was cited for grain handling hazards and was fined $56,000.

New York

  • Copper wire manufacturer Tecnofil Chenango SAC continues to expose workers at its Sherburne manufacturing plant to potential deadly or disabling injuries with missing or inadequate safeguards for machines used in the manufacturing process. Proposed fines total $124,740.
  • Corinth-based Alpine Lake RV Resort, a unit of Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc, is facing $187,000 in proposed penalties for exposing employees to electrical hazards throughout the campground when they were required to work on outdoor electrical equipment.

Pennsylvania

  • The Ground Guys of Lancaster, a lawn care company, received citations for two willful, five serious, and one other-than-serious safety and health violations after an employee had two toes amputated. Proposed penalties: $42,000.
  • Warren Railcar Services Inc. was cited for exposing workers to more than two dozen safety and health hazards. Proposed penalties: $59,200.
  • Leon Ray Burkholder, doing business as Burkholder Builders in Ephrata, faces fines of $64,400 for exposing workers to falls and other hazards.
  • Contractor Kinsey Corp. Inc. of Venetia and Pittsburg staffing agency Gillmann Services Inc. face fines of $37,600 and $7,000 respectively for failing to protect temporary workers from a potential trench collapse.
  • Seitz Tech LLC. of Oxford faces $55,400 in fines for exposing workers to electrical and fire hazards.

Texas

  • Canyon-based Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation Inc. was cited for failing to provide appropriate training and protective equipment after the death of a 21-year-old employee following a fireworks explosion. Proposed fines are $42,000.
  • Hurtado Construction Co. of Richmond was fined more than $86K for five safety violations related to exposing Katy, Texas workers to trenching hazards.

Wisconsin

  • Crothall Laundry Services Inc. of Oak Creek was cited for six serious safety violations following the death of a worker who was injured while servicing equipment. Proposed penalties: $41,200.
  • An investigation at the Sheboygan plastics resin manufacturer, Plastics Engineering Company, was opened under the national emphasis program for process safety management. The company faces $82,000 in penalties for not evaluating its hazardous chemical procedures.
  • Besse Forest Products Inc., operating as Goodman Veneer & Lumber, faces $76,000 in penalties after a worker loses part of finger while clearing a machine jam at the Goodman-based wood veneer manufacturer.
  • Services Plus Inc., a Green Bay packaging company, faces fines of $83, 025 for multiple safety hazards.

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

For Cutting-Edge Strategies on slashing Workers’ Compensation Costs visit www.PremiumReductionCenter.com

David Leng, CPCU, CIC, CBWA, CWCA, CRM

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

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