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OSHA watch

Online tool helps employers understand recordables

A new online tool is available for employers who have questions about whether employee injuries are recordable and is intended to assist employers, especially small business employers, in understanding their recordkeeping requirements under OSHA regulations. The OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor presents questions and determines the appropriate course of action based on the employer's responses. The service does not store information but helps the employer decide whether an injury is work-related, if it needs to be recorded, and if any exceptions apply to the injury.

OSHA launches National Emphasis Program for Primary Metal industries

OSHA has launched a National Emphasis Program that targets facilities under the Primary Metal Industries, Major Group 33 including foundries, mills and smelting operations. OSHA will be looking at exposure to harmful chemicals, noise, and heat. OSHA specifically identifies manufacturing plants or sites involved in extracting and refining iron, lead, nickel and tin, among other elements, and operations that produce nails, insulated wires and cables, steel piping, and copper and aluminum products The program will last three years.

New residential fall protection: enforcement phase-in and resources

OSHA has implemented a three-month enforcement phase-in period to allow residential construction employers to come into compliance with the agency's new directive to provide residential construction workers with fall protection. During the phase-in period June 16-September 15, if an employer is in full compliance with the old directive (STD 03-00-001), OSHA will not issue citations, but will instead issue a hazard alert letter informing the employer of the feasible methods that can be used to comply with OSHA's fall protection standard or implement a written fall protection plan.

OSHA has produced a new PowerPoint presentation that explains the recent changes in residential construction fall protection policy, who is covered and the requirements employers must meet to protect their workers.  It also shares procedures and equipment in use today to meet the challenges of protecting residential construction workers who perform work six feet or more above lower levels, such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, and other work methods. OSHA resources on the new directive.

Recent fines

Lumber Co. fined $2 million for egregious safety violations

OSHA fined Phenix Lumber Co. and its principal, John M. Dudley, $2 million, the largest fine in 2011, for egregious and other safety violations at the company's Phenix City, Ala., facility, including exposing employees to amputation and fall hazards. The inspection began in response to a complaint that employees working in the planer mill were exposed to amputation hazards while maintaining, cleaning and clearing jams on pieces of machinery that did not have their energy sources locked out to prevent their unexpected start up. Prior to these citations, Phenix Lumber was cited 77 times by OSHA for serious safety and health violations since 2007.

Roofing contractor fined nearly $250,000 for egregious fall hazards

OSHA fined roofing contractor Lessard Brothers Construction Inc. $243,360 for egregious willful, serious and repeat violations following OSHA's inspection of a Lewiston, Maine, worksite that found Lessard employees exposed to potentially life-threatening falls of 23 feet while working without fall protection on a steep-pitched roof. OSHA previously cited Lessard Brothers, and its predecessor Lessard Roofing & Siding Inc., 10 times for fall protection violations at Maine worksites.

Feed company fined more than $100,000 for exposing workers to suffocation, combustible dust and other hazards

OSHA fined Lakeland Feed and Supply $122,500 and issued the company 30 citations for exposing workers to hazards including suffocation in grain bins at its Hamilton, Mont., facility. The inspection was initiated under OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program that targets grain-handling establishments in the state.

Employer hit with $1.2 million fine for asbestos exposure

AMD Industries Inc., Cicero, IL, faces a proposed penalty of more than $1.2 million after allegedly exposing five unprotected and untrained workers to asbestos hazards. Following a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA inspected the company in December 2010 and issued a total of 19 willful and eight serious health citations for using untrained in-house workers to remove asbestos.