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OSHA watch:

OSHA issues enforcement guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect general industry workers' safety, health

OSHA recently issued a directive clarifying employers' responsibility for Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry, The directive went into effect Feb. 10 and replaces Inspection Guidelines for 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, the revised Personal Protective Equipment Standards for General Industry issued in June 1995. Changes in this directive include clarifying what type of PPE employers must provide at no cost to workers and when employers are required and not required to pay for PPE. The directive also provides guidance that allows employers to use PPE that complies with current consensus standards and updates PPE enforcement policies based on court and review commission decisions.

These personal protective equipment standards require employers to provide – at no cost to workers – protective equipment, such as goggles and face shields that fit properly without restricting vision; earplugs and earmuffs when they will reduce noise to acceptable levels and are less costly than administrative and engineering controls; and respirators to protect workers from exposure to air contaminants. Additionally, the directive lists PPE and other items exempted from the employer payment requirements and includes questions and answers useful in clarifying PPE payment concerns.

Webinar explaining key elements of Cranes and Derricks in Construction Final Rule

On OSHA's website is the recording of a webinar that includes a 60-minute PowerPoint with voiceover and questions and answers with participants from organizations including the Associated General Contractors of America, Crane Certification Association of America, Building Trades Employers Association and Operating Engineers International Union.

New training video on respiratory protection for healthcare workers

OSHA has produced a new training video for healthcare employers and workers that explains the proper use of respirators and the procedures to follow to assure that respirators protect workers from airborne hazards in healthcare settings. The 33-minute video explains the major components of a respiratory protection program including fit-testing, medical evaluations, training and maintenance. The video also discusses the difference between respirators and surgical masks, features a segment on common respiratory hazards found in healthcare settings, and demonstrates how respirator use helps protect workers from exposure to airborne chemicals.

OSHA withdraws MSD reporting requirements and proposed interpretation of its noise standard

OSHA withdrew from review its proposal to restore a column for recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on employer injury and illness logs. According to a news release, the agency wants more input from small businesses about how the change will affect them and is reaching out to the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Advocacy.

This is the second proposal that OSHA has withdrawn in 2011, citing the need for more consultation with affected businesses. Earlier, the agency withdrew its proposed interpretation of its noise standard, which would have allowed the agency to issue more citations against employers to reduce sound intensity in the workplace.

OSHA shifts focus to safety of grain facilities

A grain safety Local Emphasis Program (LEP) in OSHA Region 5 has resulted in 61 inspections and 163 violations issued since its August launch. Violations found in the LEP were related to grain engulfment, machine guarding, lockout/tagout, falls and combustible dust hazards. OSHA Region 5 includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

OSHA Plans for 2011

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to publish five final rules in 2011 as well as moving forward on a proposed regulatory initiative called the Illness and Injury Prevention Program (I2P2). This initiative would require employers to implement a program involving planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that protect the safety and health of employees.

OSHA also plans to publish these five final rules:

OSHA's crystalline silica rule close to publication

A proposed rule for occupational exposure to crystalline silica is scheduled for publication in April. Now in review with the Office of Management and Budget, the rule would update OSHA's current crystalline silica standards, which have permissible exposure limits for general industry, construction and shipyards based on 40-year-old formulas – some of which are considered obsolete.

Crystalline silica is a component of soil made of minerals that can be found in many industries. Exposure to it can cause silicosis, a fatal respiratory disease.

Recent fines

Demolition contractor fined $52,000 for fall and lead hazards

OSHA has cited MJ Scoville Inc., (N.Y.) demolition contractor, for nine willful and serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at a building renovation site. The contractor faces a total of $52,500 in proposed fines, chiefly for exposures to falls while working without fall protection and failure to conduct personal air monitoring to determine lead exposure levels and failure to implement interim protective measures.

Manufacturer fined $220,000 after repeatedly failing to protect workers from silica dust

OSHA fined Oberdorfer LLC, (NY) a manufacturer of aluminum castings, $220,000 and issued the company 26 citations for violations that include willfully exposing workers to potentially fatal safety and health hazards as well as two notices for failing to abate hazards involving overexposing workers to airborne concentrations of silica, a human lung carcinogen, for which it had previously been citied by OSHA.

OSHA Cites Roofing Company For Failing To Provide Fall Protection

OSHA has issued McEntire's Roofing Inc. (IL) six citations for failing to provide fall protection for roofers working on residential projects. The company faces penalties totaling $102,000, including repeat violations for allegedly not having a grasping handle and/or a ladder extended 3 feet or more above the roofline for workers to access in order to prevent falls.