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OSHA watch

2011 hit list: are you on it?

In 2011, OSHA sent letters to 14,600 employers with the highest illness and injury rates. It’s always a good idea to check the list. Anyone on the list should be diligently working to remedy violations.

Little known General Duty Clause

Many employers are not familiar with the General Duty Clause, which is OSHA’s catchall solution for hazards that do not have a dedicated standard. While OSHA issued only 1,600 violations in FY 2010, its use has been increasing. There are limitations in issuing violations and the following conditions must be met:

New Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page

The new Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Web page provides guidance on how to implement an effective system for finding and fixing workplace safety and health hazards.

OSHA releases first letters of interpretation for 2011

OSHA published three letters of interpretation for the first time this year.

  1. Clarification of the terms "employee's working lifetime" and "first discovered."
  2. Safety hazards associated with wearing skirts in a restaurant setting. OSHA does not have a policy on workers wearing skirts in restaurants, although the agency recommends kitchen staff wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved cotton shirts and pants to protect against cuts and burns.
  3. ANSI standards regarding accident prevention signs and physical hazard marking.

OSHA currently has no plans to update its regulations to match newer ANSI standards on accident prevention signs.

Final rule updates shipyard standards

Washington – A final rule updating OSHA's standards on general working conditions for shipyard employment was published May 2 and is scheduled to go in effect Aug. 1. The rule will revise requirements found in Subpart F of 29 CFR 1915, including those pertaining to housekeeping, illumination, confined spaces, and health and sanitation, among others. New lockout/tagout provisions specific to the maritime industry and provisions for motor vehicle safety also were added.

This is the first significant update to the shipyard standards since they were adopted in 1972.

OSHA offers guidance on shipyard rigging

A new guide sheet details how shipyard workers can be exposed to various hazards, offers measures that employers should implement to prevent deaths or injuries, and provides training information and posters.

Residential construction fall hazard protection goes in effect June 16

As of June 16, 2011, companies will have to protect employees working six feet or more above lower levels with fall protection methods, such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.

Educational booklet on indoor air quality in commercial and institutional buildings

A new OSHA educational booklet, Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings, provides building owners, managers, employers and workers with recommendations to prevent or minimize IAQ problems in commercial and institutional buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency identified IAQ as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Web page on Indoor Air Quality provides more information on addressing IAQ hazards.

Recent fines

Machinery manufacturer fined more than $480,000 after endangering workers lives

OSHA issued 33 citations to the Parker Hannifin Corp., manufacturer of machinery for hydraulics, air conditioning, refrigeration and aerospace systems, and fined the company $487,700 for numerous safety and health violations found during an inspection of its plant in Batesville, Miss.

Steel manufacturer cited for exposing workers to fall and energy control hazards

OSHA has cited steel manufacturer Republic Engineered Products Inc. in Lorain, OH for seven willful and three repeat safety violations, with proposed penalties totaling $563,000, for failing to protect workers from fall hazards and implement adequate energy source lockout/tagout procedures to prevent injury from hazardous equipment.

Metal Fabrication Shop faces $47,000 in fines

An Orange, CT, metal fabrication shop, Valley Tool, Inc., faces a total of $47,000 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection prompted by an employee complaint.

OSHA’s inspection found improper storage of materials in a flammable storage cabinet, failure to provide annual training for all employees who use respirators, and failure to provide chemical hazard communication training to employees working with chemicals.

Six New Jersey companies cited for workplace safety and health hazards

A general contractor and five subcontractors were cited for 20-workplace safety and health violations found at an apartment building construction site in Elizabeth, NJ. Proposed penalties total $95,470.

Milling company faces $146,000 in fines for 25 serious workplace violations

Shawnee Milling Co., Shawnee, Okla. has been cited with 25 alleged serious violations following an inspection at the company's facility in Shawnee that found multiple safety and health hazards. Proposed penalties total $146,000.

US Labor Department secures decision affirming OSHA citations and $89,000 in fines against Pittsfield, NH, contractor

Summer and Winter Construction, a Pittsfield, NH roofing contractor, contested citations that employees were exposed to falls of up to 16 feet and other hazards at work sites in Hanover and Manchester, N.H, but the citations were affirmed.