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OSHA watch

CDC report on OSHA's review of heat-related enforcement cases highlights need for acclimatization to prevent worker deaths

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report on the OSHA review of 20 heat-related enforcement cases from 2012 to 2013. OSHA's analysis, described in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, suggests that the primary risk factor for heat fatalities is the lack of acclimatization programs.

Of the 13 enforcement cases that involved worker fatalities, nine of the deaths occurred in the first three days of working on the job, four of them occurring on the worker's first day. In all 20 cases, heat illness prevention programs were found to be incomplete or absent, and no provision was made for acclimatizing new workers to the heat.

USDA issues guidance to inspectors on spotting, reporting workplace hazards

A new notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service outlines procedures for agency inspection personnel on notifying OSHA when they observe workplace hazards.

The notice details how to inform OSHA about working conditions such as blocked exits, electrical hazards or lack of machine guards. The notice also implements required safety and health training for FSIS personnel on recognizing and reporting safety hazards.

New earthquake safety information

How to protect workers from earthquakes is the subject of new online resources.

One webpage discusses how employers and workers can prepare for an earthquake by developing an emergency response plan and conducting workplace training. A webpage about response and recovery provides information on hazards to avoid after an earthquake, including collapsing walls, falling objects and fire.

Resources on farm vehicle rollover protection

Two QuickCards intended to educate employers on protecting agricultural workers from farm-related deaths involving vehicles and equipment are now available. One QuickCard outlines how to help protect farmworkers from tractor and harvester hazards. A second QuickCard covers safely backing up farm vehicles and equipment.

The QuickCards are available in both Spanish and English.

Help with applying for variances

OSHA is developing a new set of forms intended to help employers who apply for variances from certain requirements in federal worker protection standards. Four types of variances exist (temporary, experimental, permanent and national defense), and each variance requires employers to provide certain information. However, the agency does not offer any forms on preparing the applications.

The new forms are intended to organize and clarify the information collection requirements and expedite the process for employers. Details of the proposed forms were released in an Aug. 20 Federal Register notice. Public comments on a proposal to get approval for information collection requirements related to the issue are due Oct. 20.

Recommended practices relating to temporary workers

OSHA and NIOSH recently issued a publication of recommended practices to protect temporary workers' safety and health. The new guidance recommends that staff agency/host employer contracts clearly define the temporary worker's tasks and the safety and health responsibilities of each employer. Staffing agencies should maintain contact with temporary workers to verify that the host has fulfilled its responsibilities for a safe workplace. The Recommended Practices publication is available at

Recent fines and awards

Medical facility cited for inadequate workplace violence safeguards - New York

Employees of Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn were exposed to head, eye, face and groin injuries and intimidation and threats during routine interactions with patients and visitors. The medical center faces $78,000 in fines for failure to adequately protect workers from workplace violence, following an inspection that began in response to a complaint.

Preservation Society fined for exposing workers to exposed to lead and falls - Rhode Island

Employees of The Preservation Society of Newport County were exposed to lead and potentially fatal falls while scraping and abrasively removing lead-based paint from an outbuilding at the Newport mansion known as Chateau-sur-Mer. The Preservation Society was cited for 10 serious violations and faces proposed $51,840 in fines.

Fiberglass plant agrees to limit worker exposure to styrene - Wisconsin

Fiberdome Inc. has agreed to limit employee exposure to styrene, pay a $2,000 penalty and accept a general duty clause citation alleging that an employee was exposed to styrene over the industry agreed-upon level. The inspection at the company's Lake Mills-based plant I was in response to receiving a referral of workers being ill.

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