An Oklahoma plating manufacturer is facing over three dozen safety violations carrying $341,000 in fines for exposing workers to deadly levels of hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing health hazard.
Reasons for fine: failure to
◾provide PPE for workers exposed to chromium
◾demarcate regulated area where chromium was sprayed
◾prevent ingestion of food and drinks and absorption of cigarettes in chromium-regulated areas
◾properly train workers exposed to the facility’s chromium, caustics and corrosives
◾provide adequate walking and working surfaces
◾provide separate locker space and storage for street and protective clothing
◾perform PPE hazard assessments
◾guard power transmission belts
◾failing to fit test employees for respirators and implement a respiratory program
◾inform workers of their chromium exposure records
◾provide adequate washing facilities
◾label chemical containers
Inspectors said workers were exposed to the chemical in the spray painting and dip tank operation areas and in the lunchroom and smoking areas of the Grove plant.
This case shows you might — even OSHA inspectors can get things wrong. In the unlikely event an OSHA inspector shows up at your door, make sure you gather the same evidence as the inspector – photos, records, etc. If you disagree with the inspector’s conclusions, be prepared to raise concerns during the closing conference or fight the citations in court.
Here’s a challenging court case you could encounter at your facility: This company was hit with citations for improper fall protection, despite an OSHA inspector giving the safety plan the OK. The company is sure it’s in the right. Can you guess the outcome?
The OSHA inspector told the manager the fall protection was good enough while on the site, but when he got back to his office and talked with others, he determined there was a safety violation. However, when in court, the inspector was vague and did not seem to remember specific details about the site or the conversations he had with the manager that day.
In contrast, the manager came to court prepared and confident. He had years of experience with this type of work and demonstrated that he knew the rules for fall protection well. He also knew the exact circumstances of the job site and could defend his choices clearly. The court determined the fall protection used was within the rules and dropped the charges.
Experience speaks the company was successful and the court threw out the citations. Know your OSHA’s rules!! your inspector may not.
A Chicago engineering company, classified as a severe safety violator by federal regulators, was cited and fined for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins. The company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program when it was issued for safety violations for failing to comply with trenching standards. Violations carry penalties of $105,600. Protect employees and your business by
- protecting workers from cave-in hazards while in a trench over 5 feet deep
- support street pavement above the trench from collapsing on workers
- remove employees from known cave-in hazards
With safety in place your business is Safe avoid hazards by keeping up with OSHA’S Safety guidelines.
OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have put new Recommended Practices in place to protect temporary workers in the workplace.
Concern for the well-being of temporary workers has been a concern for OSHA and NIOSH lately. Their newly released Recommended Practices provide ways for staffing agencies and host employers to work together to provide a safe environment for these workers.
The Recommended Practices include:
◾Staffing agencies and host employers must work together to ensure the safety of these workers — both are responsible for these workers’ well-being.
◾Before working with a new host employer, staffing agencies should evaluate work sites, identify safety issues and the types of training temporary workers will need.
◾Agency staff should be trained to recognize safety hazards so they can work with the host employer to ensure that proper measures are taken to prevent an incident.
◾Be sure that staffing agencies and host employers know and understand each others’ safety plans. This way, they can mutually hold one another to the highest standard when it comes to the safety of temporary workers.
◾The host employer and agency should create a contract stating who will be responsible for each aspect of the workers’ safety. This means defining the workers’ job requirements, who will provide the necessary PPE, and agreeing on everyone’s rights and responsibilities.
◾Host employers and agencies should have open communication about any incidents that happen on the job. Both groups should agree on an incident reporting system so that all information is communicated quickly and effectively.
◾Both the staffing agency and host employer are responsible for providing adequate safety training for temporary workers. It is the responsibility of the host employers to train temporary workers as they would any other permanent staff.
OSHA’s focus on protecting temporary workers doesn’t stop at the companies hiring the short-term help. Inspectors are also paying close attention to staffing agencies.
Healthcare workers not receiving enough protection from OSHA with the highest number of worker injuries, this industry is one of the least protected by OSHA. A report by Public Citizen shows that healthcare workers suffer more annual injuries and illnesses on the job than any other industry, OSHA conducts few facility inspections due to a lack of existing safety standards.
About 650,000 healthcare employees sustain injuries or illnesses each year. This blows past the second most affected industry, manufacturing. To issue citations for ergonomic problems, OSHA must use the General Duty Clause, which states that employers have a duty to protect employees from recognized hazards that could lead to injury or death. The construction industry receives the most OSHA inspections. The agency inspects one-twentieth as many healthcare facilities as construction sites, even though the number of healthcare workers more than doubles construction workers. OSHA has launched a new campaign to protect healthcare workers from the hazards that lead to MSDs. These workers will receive information about controlling hazards and implementing a zero-lift program, which uses special lifting equipment to minimize the worker’s exertion. The campaign will raise awareness and benefit healthcare workers.
SeaWorld says it won’t appeal an OSHA fine connected with the death of an animal trainer working with killer whales. This means OSHA’s use of the General Duty Clause (GDC) in this case will stand. The U.S. Supreme Court won’t get to consider it. The agency uses the GDC when there are no specific federal safety regulations that pertain to a workplace hazard. Such was the case with trainers working with killer whales at SeaWorld theme parks. SeaWorld had argued that OSHA’s use of the GDC in the February death of trainer Dawn Brancheau was overly broad. The OSHRC did downgrade the citation from willful to serious and reduced the total fines from $75,000 to $12,000. SeaWorld had been opposing in court. Arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, that using barriers to abate the hazard of contact between the trainers and whales as suggested by OSHA would create additional hazards for its employees. It also argued not allowing trainers in the water with whales during shows would hurt its business. The court upheld the OSHRC decision. The trainers haven’t been back in the water with the whales since the appeals court upheld the OSHRC
Think twice before ordering lemon in your water. 70 precent of lemons used to sweeten up restaurant beverages showed signs of microbial growth, according to a study published in the Journal of Envrionmental Health. The researchers tested 76 lemons at 21 different restaurants to find the tart truth. Among the bacteria found was E. Coli and Entrococcus, which usually inhabits the lower intestine. According to the report, some of the germs “could have come from fingertips of a restaurant employee via human fecal or raw-meat or poultry contamination, they might have contaminated the lemons before they even arrived at the restaurant.”