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Temporary enforcement measures for residential construction fall protection extended

For the fifth time, OSHA has delayed enforcement of a directive requiring residential construction employers to follow conventional fall protection requirements. The temporary enforcement measures, are extended to March 15, 2013 and allow employers to receive priority on free onsite compliance assistance, penalty reductions and extended abatement dates.

Philadelphia Region inspection initiative nets hundreds of citations

Following a four-month campaign, OSHA assessed more than half a million dollars in fines and hundreds of citations to construction companies in Region 3, which includes Delaware, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Violations were found in 50 percent of the 545 no-notice inspections during the "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative" which focused inspections on falls, trenches and silica exposure.

In total, OSHA issued 243 citations and $658,862 in proposed fines during the initiative. Some of the more common violations were related to failures regarding fall protection on roofs, the safe construction of scaffolds and trench collapse protection.

Tool offers cadmium compliance assistance

A new online tool aims to help employers comply with OSHA's Cadmium Standard (1910.1027). The Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor takes biological monitoring results from the user and, along with responses to a series of questions, helps employers determine which biological monitoring or medical surveillance requirements must be met under the standard. It is intended for medical professionals who assess workers' cadmium exposure.

New website provides information on preventing backover incidents in construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. OSHA has published a new Preventing Backovers webpage that provides information about the hazards of backovers, solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents, articles and resources, and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.

Safety incentive conviction

2012 saw a new OSHA directive discouraging employers from judging safety program effectiveness primarily by counting recordable injuries, and using monetary incentives to reward employees with good safety records. In November, a federal jury in Chattanooga, Tenn., convicted the former safety manager of Stone & Webster Construction on eight counts of fraud for falsifying safety records at three Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plants in order to collect more than $2.5 million in safety bonuses. The jury found that the bonuses were paid for meeting certain performance goals, including one tied to worker safety, which was determined by workplace injury rates, as well as the total number of injuries at each of the three nuclear facilities. When workers' injuries-which included broken bones, torn ligaments, hernias, lacerations, and shoulder, back and knee injuries-jeopardized the bonuses, the safety manager fraudulently misclassified them as nonrecordable, non-lost-time, and nonwork-related incidents.

New fact sheet on ignition hazards from internal combustion engines

A new fact sheet discusses ignition hazards from internal combustion engines.

Wisconsin Agri-Business Association joins with OSHA to address grain industry hazards

OSHA has established an alliance with the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association that will focus on addressing the grain and feed industry's six major danger areas, outlined in OSHA's Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities: engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck-by," combustible dust and electrocution hazards.

Recent fines and awards

Employer sued for firing employee who refused to work in unsafe trench conditions - Alabama

DKS Structural Services, doing business as Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Co., and owner Jeffrey Kennedy were sued for allegedly terminating an employee who refused to enter a 15-foot-deep trench that did not have adequate protection to prevent cave-ins. OSHA's lawsuit seeks back wages, interest, and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee. While the employee was working, the walls of one trench, measured at approximately 15 feet deep, began to slide and cave in. The ladder that was used to get into and out of the trench broke from the dirt and mud caving in. After the ladder broke, the employee was directed to access the inside of the same trench by being lowered in the bucket of a backhoe. When the employee complained that he did not want to go back into such a deep trench without protection, the employer allegedly told him "to get in the hole or go home." The employee refused to get back into the unprotected excavation and immediately was fired. In addition to investigating the employee's complaint, OSHA conducted an inspection of the work site and issued citations to the employer carrying $122,400 in penalties for two willful and two serious violations related to excavation and personal protective equipment standards.

Pandrol USA, added to Severe Violator Enforcement Program for willful and serious violations with $283,500 in proposed penalties - New Jersey

Pandrol USA LP, a rail fastening system manufacturer, was cited with 25 safety and health violations - including three willful - at the company's Bridgeport facility after an inspection prompted by a complaint. Proposed penalties total $283,500.

The willful violations involve the employer's failure to use energy control, or "lockout/tagout" procedures, for mechanical and hydraulic presses; provide machine guarding; and ensure that employees performing maintenance and repairs on machinery are properly trained on energy control procedures. Due to the willful violations, Pandrol has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

CPI-Lansing LLC cited for exposing workers to grain bin hazards - Nebraska

CPI-Lansing LLC, a grain storage facility in Red Cloud was cited with three safety violations-including two willful-for allowing workers to enter grain bins while sweep augers were operating. The inspection was initiated under the grain handling local emphasis program. Proposed penalties total $144,400.

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