OSHA Assistant Secretary encouraged by drop in workplace injury, illness rates
Recently released occupational injury and illness data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a significant drop in the rate of recordable workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015. Private sector employers reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015, a decline of about 48,000 from 2014, despite an increase in total hours worked. The rate of cases recorded was 3.0 cases per 100 full-time workers – down from 3.2 in 2014. This rate has declined for all but one of the last 13 years.
"We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "This is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day." For more information, read the full statement.
Public meetings set on hazard communication issues: potential rulemaking and interagency collaboration
OSHA will hold a public meeting to discuss potential updates to the Hazard Communication Standard on Nov. 16, 2016, in Arlington, Va. OSHA is beginning its rulemaking efforts to maintain alignment of the Hazard Communication Standard with the most recent revision of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The agency is requesting feedback from stakeholders on issues that they would like OSHA to consider in the rulemaking. The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Mine Safety and Health Administration Headquarters, 201 12th St. South, Suite 700, Arlington, Va. 22202. For more information on conference call-in capability and pre-registration instructions, see the Federal Register notice.
In addition, two meetings related to hazardous materials are set for Nov. 15 at Department of Transportation's headquarters in Washington, DC. In the morning, from 9 to noon, DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will discuss proposals in preparation for the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods session in Switzerland later this year. From 1 to 4 p.m., OSHA will host a public meeting of the U.S. Interagency System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals Coordinating Group. Topics will include an update on GHS-related issues and a discussion of public comments. For more information on conference call-in capability and pre-registration instructions, see the Federal Register notice.
Additional information about these public meetings is available on OSHA's Hazard Communication webpage.
OSHA schedules meeting of construction advisory committee; requests nominations for membership
OSHA will hold a public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes remarks from OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels; updates on the National Safety Stand-Down; clarification of requirements in the crane standard; and updates from OSHA's Directorates of Construction and Technical Support and Emergency Management, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
OSHA is also accepting nominations for eight new members to serve on the 15-member committee. Member nominations and requests to speak at the meeting may be submitted at www.regulations.gov, by mail or by facsimile. Submission deadlines are Nov. 11 for comments and requests to speak, and Jan. 27, 2017, for member nominations. See the Federal Register notice for details.
OSHA releases recommendations for creating a Safety and Health Plan
OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels today released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety at their workplaces. The recommendations update OSHA's 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. Key principles include: leadership from the top to send a message that safety and health is critical to business operations; worker participation in finding solutions; and a systematic approach to find and fix hazards. "We know that working together to implement these programs will help prevent injuries and illnesses, and also make businesses more sustainable," said Dr. Michaels, who released the document at the National Safety Council Congress in Anaheim, Calif. In his remarks, he asked business groups and safety and health professionals to help spread the word through a campaign that encourages creation of a safety and health program using OSHA's recommendations or others.
OSHA delays enforcement of anti-retaliation provisions of injury and illness tracking rule until December 1
OSHA has agreed to further delay enforcement of the anti-retaliation provisions in its injury and illness tracking rule until Dec. 1, 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requested the delay to allow additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.
The anti-retaliation provisions were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 10, 2016, but were previously delayed until Nov. 10 to allow time for outreach to the regulated community. Under the rule, employers are required to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and incorporate the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.
Winners selected in Noise Safety Challenge
The results are in for the first Noise Safety Challenge. Held on Oct. 27, the event was hosted by OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The challenge provided opportunities for 10 inventors, selected from 28 challenge submissions to travel to Washington, D.C., to pitch their solutions for reducing hearing loss from workplace noise exposure. The judges awarded first place to Nick Laperle and Jeremie Voix for a custom-fitted earpiece designed to provide a worker with protection, communication, and monitoring. Second place went to Brendon Dever and his company Heads Up Display Inc. for wearable sensor technology that detects noise levels and provides warnings via color-coded lights. Third place was awarded to Madeline Bennett, whose company, Otogear, created an interchangeable decorative attachment that attaches to silicone earplugs. The other selected ideas included hearing protection devices, hardware/software combinations, audiometric measurement and tracking tools, and analysis systems.
State Plan enforcement cases
The following is a recent example of an enforcement case from a state occupational safety and health program. For more examples of state and federal enforcement cases, visit OSHA's online enforcement penalties map.
California OSHA cited Big Pines Ziplines $85,000 for serious and willful safety violations after a member of the public suffered a broken leg while riding one of the company’s lines in Wrightwood. Cal/OSHA investigators found that Big Pines let riders reach speeds of up to 55 mph on lines more than a quarter-mile long that had no effective emergency braking system. Investigators learned that Big Pines continued to operate unsafe zip lines after being ordered to stop and also endangered workers by compelling them to test unapproved safety features. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA issues final rule establishing procedures for handling retaliation complaints under the Affordable Care Act
OSHA has published a final rule that establishes procedures and time frames for handling whistleblower complaints under the Affordable Care Act. The ACA protects employees from retaliation for receiving Marketplace financial assistance when purchasing health insurance through an Exchange. It also protects employees from retaliation for raising concerns regarding conduct that they believe violates the consumer protections and health insurance reforms found in Title I of the ACA. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA proposes improvements to respiratory protection standard
OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency's Respiratory Protection Standard. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries. OSHA invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols. Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, by mail or facsimile by Dec. 6. For more information, see the news release.
OSHA proposes rule to improve provisions in several standards
As part of an ongoing effort to revise provisions in its standards that may be confusing, outdated or unnecessary, OSHA is proposing 18 changes to the agency's recordkeeping, general industry, maritime and construction standards. "The changes we propose will modernize OSHA standards, help employers better understand their responsibilities, increase compliance and reduce compliance costs," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. Individuals may submit comments electronically via www.regulations.gov, by facsimile or mail by Dec. 5. See the news release or Federal Register notice for details.
OSHA and Department of Transportation agency develop memorandum to protect workers from hazardous chemicals
OSHA and the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration developed a guidance memorandum that clarifies the appropriate labeling of hazardous chemicals during transport and in the workplace. DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations require labels to identify the potential dangers of handling packages containing hazardous materials or a sudden uncontrolled release of hazardous materials during transport. These labels must be displayed or provided with a shipment during transport. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard requires labeling the immediate container with hazard information or transmitting the required label with shipping papers, bills of lading or by other electronic means so that it is available to workers. Read the memorandum for more information.