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Appeals court upholds OSHA's fall protection directive

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected a challenge by the National Roofing Contractors Association to OSHA’s December 2010 directive on the use of fall protection in residential construction. The directive withdrew an earlier one that allowed certain residential construction employers to bypass some fall protection requirements.

Guidance document for fall protection in residential construction

OSHA has issued a guidance document on Fall Protection in Residential Construction. The document focuses primarily on new construction and shows how employers can prevent fall-related injuries and death by methods that include using bracket scaffolds, anchors, safety net systems and guardrails during activities such as weatherproofing a roof or installing roof sheathing, walls and subfloors.

Radiation dispersal from Japan

OSHA and NIOSH have paired up to produce resources for both employers and workers.

Guidance documents on use of spirometry

OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed two guidance documents, one for workers and one for employers, which describe the use of spirometry testing to help reduce and prevent worker exposure to respiratory hazards.

Spirometry is a common type of pulmonary function test (PFT) that measures how well a person can move air in and out of their lungs. In occupational settings, spirometry can be used to establish a baseline before assigning a worker to job tasks that are physically demanding, that require use of a respirator, or that may expose the worker to respiratory hazards. It is also used to track lung function over time and to evaluate workers who experience signs or symptoms of respiratory disease.

For employers
For workers

OSHRC rules on statute of limitations for recordkeeping violations

OSHA may cite an employer for certain recordkeeping violations that occurred years earlier, according to an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruling. In 2007, OSHA issued AKM LLC (which was doing business as Volks Constructors) a serious citation for failure to record injuries and illnesses and post a summary of those records for employees. The citation covered a period between January 2002 and April 2006.

Volks argued the violations were "one-time events" occurring beyond a period in which OSHA is allowed to cite. OSHA has six months from the time of the violation to issue a citation.

OSHRC commissioners unanimously upheld four of the five items in the original citation related to failing to record injuries and illnesses, calling it a "continuing" violation. The fifth item, related to posting a record summary, was vacated when a majority of the commissioners ruled that because employers are required to post only the summary until April 30 of any given year, citations for violating the requirement must be issued within six months of that date.

The commissioners assessed a fine of $13,300 for the citation.

Recent fines

OSHA proposed $63,000 in fines to Volunteers of America–Greater New York Inc. for 12 alleged serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at its shelter facility and related administrative offices on Wards Island in New York City, following OSHA inspections conducted after an employee fell while closing a rooftop skylight.

OSHA fined Lincoln Paper & Tissue LLC $212,000 and cited the company for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards following a September 2010 incident in which a worker at the company's Lincoln, Maine, paper mill was burned when a high-pressure steam line burst.

OSHA cites a wind farm servicing company in Odell, IL for six willful safety violations after a worker suffers burns in a wind tower. Egregious safety violations result in proposed fines of $378,000.

OSHA fines North Central Farmers Elevator in Ipswich, SD, $378,000 for exposing workers to grain engulfment.

OSHA has cited Champion Builders LLC in Connecticut for alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards, primarily fall hazards, following OSHA's inspection of a hotel construction site in Madison. The Bristol steel erection contractor faces a total of $143,000 in proposed fines.

Indiana OSHA fines Notre Dame nearly $78,000 after a student employee is killed while filming football practice. IOSHA inspectors found overwhelming evidence that the university made a decision to use its scissor lifts in known adverse weather conditions.