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Temporary policy for proximity alarms in cranes and derricks standard

OSHA is enacting a new temporary enforcement policy regarding the use of proximity alarms and insulating links while using cranes and derricks near power lines.

Under the Cranes and Derricks Standard employers may use such devices near power lines provided the devices have been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

However, OSHA has not recognized any labs to perform the testing, so no devices have been approved. As such, employers may not exclusively rely on any proximity alarm or insulating link to comply with the requirements found in the standard, the agency stated.

Under the new policy, employers may instead use an alarm or link in conjunction with additional measures, including using a "dedicated spotter" or insulating workers from equipment. If these additional measures are used in accordance with OSHA rules, no citation may be issued.

The policy is effective between July 26, 2012, and Nov. 8, 2013.

Direct final rule updates head protection standards

A new OSHA rule will update several head protection standards to align them with modern consensus standards.

The direct final rule revises personal protective equipment sections for the construction, maritime and general industries. The update is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 20 unless OSHA receives "significant adverse comment."

Construction safety initiative in Pennsylvania

OSHA recently launched a summer Construction Incident Prevention Initiative focused on Northeastern Pennsylvania. Compliance officers will survey construction sites in 20 Pennsylvania counties between June and September. Inspectors are looking for anything that poses a potential hazard to construction workers.

Final Rule on whistleblower retaliation complaints made under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

OSHA has published a Final Rule the "Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act."

Effective July 10 the Final Rule, among other provisions, ensures complainants receive copies of correspondence and evidence OSHA sends to respondents before ordering preliminary reinstatement, and that complainants have an opportunity to respond to the respondent's submissions during OSHA's investigation.

Recent fines and awards

Whistleblower complaint leads to six figure fine - Alabama

A whistleblower complaint led OSHA to investigate a construction site of DKS Structural Services of Huntsville, AL, dba Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co. The whistleblower claims he was terminated for refusing to enter an unprotected trench. Several violations of OSHA's trenching standards were found and fines of $122,400 levied.

Ameriflight ordered to reinstate, compensate whistle-blower pilot - California

Ameriflight PR Inc., a subsidiary of Burbank, Calif.-based Ameriflight L.L.C. has been ordered to take corrective actions including reinstating the complainant to his former position with all benefits, expunging his personnel records of any reference to his protected activities, and paying him $15,350 in compensatory damages. The pilot who was terminated had repeatedly raised concerns with his superiors about improper fuel calculations for planes flying from the carrier's San Juan, Puerto Rico, base. He also refused to pilot a flight because of those concerns, voiced his concerns in an email to management and his fellow pilots, and requested a legal opinion from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to OSHA's statement.

OSHA Tribe Mediterranean Foods cited for 18 safety violations - Massachusetts

Tribe Mediterranean Foods, a subsidiary of Nestle SA, that manufactures Tribe brand hummus products, was cited for 18 alleged violations of workplace safety standards following the death of a worker at its Taunton production plant. A contract employee who was cleaning and sanitizing a machine used in the hummus manufacturing process was caught, pulled into the machine and crushed to death between two rotating augers. When there is a particularly egregious lack of compliance and exposure to hazards, OSHA can issue citations on a per-instance basis; in this case, representing one willful violation for each untrained employee exposed to a hazard. Tribe Mediterranean Foods faces a total of $702,300 in proposed fines.

Schuld/Bushnell cited for repeat safety violations after follow-up inspection at tank manufacturing plant - Nebraska

OSHA has cited Bushnell Illinois Tank Co., which operates as Schuld/Bushnell in Valley, NB, with eight safety and health violations based on a follow-up inspection for hazards associated with workers who enter and work in permit-required confined spaces. Proposed penalties total $116,270.

Meat packing facility faces fines of $195,100 - Nebraska

Hastings Acquisition LLC, which operates as Nebraska Prime Group, a meatpacking facility in Hastings, was cited for 11 safety violations. OSHA opened an inspection after a worker had become caught in a machine and was asphyxiated.

Contractor cited for fall hazards at N.Y. work site - New Jersey

Allied Brothers Construction Inc. of Bloomfield, N.J., was cited for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at a Montebello, N.Y., work site. The contractor faces a total of $89,100 in proposed fines as a result of an inspection of the residential construction site that was undertaken after receiving reports of fall hazards.

Machine Shop cited for failing to correct previously cited hazards - New York

The Amityville metal fabrication shop, Simtek Inc., faces a total of $138,765 in proposed fines Based on the latest inspection for new, recurring and uncorrected hazards. The fines relate to hazards that expose workers to potential amputation and crushing injuries, and electrocution.

Foundry fined for safety violations - Pennsylvania

OSHA has cited Domestic Casting Co. LLC, a gray and ductile iron foundry, with three repeat violations and one serious safety violation at its iron foundry in Shippensburg, Pa. Proposed penalties total $49,000. The repeat violations involve unguarded machinery and live electrical parts.

Whistleblower case settled against real estate management company - South Carolina

The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into an agreement with CMM Realty Inc., a real estate management company headquartered in Columbia, and owner C. Michael Munson, resolving a lawsuit filed by the department alleging the illegal termination of a maintenance employee who raised workplace and environmental concerns regarding asbestos at a work site. The settlement provides for the payment of $45,000 to the employee as well as injunctive relief that permanently prohibits the defendants from violating the whistleblower provisions.

Whistleblower complaint against trucking company settled - Tennessee

The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into a settlement agreement with Knoxville-based Heartland Transportation Inc., a contract mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, to resolve OSHA findings alleging that an employee was terminated for complaining about defective vehicles in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.

According to the settlement agreement, the company will pay the complainant $31,200, including $9,895 in back wages. Additionally, the company agreed to purge any personnel records regarding the involuntary discharge of the employee and provide a neutral reference to any prospective employers. The company also agreed to post a notice informing all employees of their right to raise safety concerns or conduct any other protected activity under the STAA without suffering retaliation.

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