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DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Steve Hudgik

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with what is happening at OSHA as well as other workplace safety news. Includes a report on the significant OSHA citations announced the previous week. Plus we scan national and local (and world) publications for workplace safety news. This is your source for the latest safety news.


Monday, April 21, 2014

This Week's Safety News


April 21, 2014
Use these links to go directly to each section of this week's safety news:

Safety News Briefs

  • OSHA Update: Aggressive OSHA Enforcement and "OSHA Jail"
  • MSHA Issues Preliminary 2013 Mine Safety Data
  • OSHA Forms Alliance In Georgia To Reduce Exposure to Silica in the Construction Industry

OSHA Significant Citations

  • Sinclair, WY Refinery Faces Citations Resulting from Sept 27 Incident ($201,000)
  • BART Fined For Accident That Killed 2 Transit Workers ($210,000)

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Safety News Briefs - OSHA Jail

A regular news feature summarizing workplace safety related news.

We scan newspapers, magazines and the internet for safety news that isn't being reported elsewhere. The following are links to safety-related news and articles that came out during the past week. If you have safety news, or safety tips, send them to: duralabelpro@gmail.com.


OSHA Update: Aggressive OSHA Enforcement and "OSHA Jail"

As reported in JDSupra Business Advisor Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez answered questions about OSHA last week. He addressed two topics that have been of particular concern.  The JDSupra Business Advisor identified these in article:

"OSHA has proposed its budget for fiscal year 2015 and there are already many contentious positions being taken regarding what had been hailed as overly aggressive enforcement positions by OSHA. Examples of overzealous enforcement have ranged from a proposed rule on silica to an enforcement memo issued in 2013 related to union representatives being permitted to participate in OSHA inspections at non-unionized workplaces."

The article also points out that settling with OSHA quickly, when citations have been issued, could lead to a jail sentence.  The article states that carefully considering all aspects of settling with OSHA is important.

Read the article here.

In a related story, in Montana the owner of MR Asphalt appeared in Federal court earlier this month on charges related to a fatality when a worker slipped off of an oil tank. The company owner is facing a possible prison sentence.  Read this story in the Claims Journal.


MSHA Issues Preliminary 2013 Mine Safety Data

MSHA has released preliminary data for calendar year 2013, updating the "Mine Safety and Health at a Glance" page. The charts include information on inspections; violations; number of mines and miners; and fatality and injury rates for coal, metal and nonmetal, and all mining.

The data show that while the 2013 overall injury rate improved from the prior year to an historic low, fatality rates increased, driven by a high number of mining deaths in the 4th quarter of 2013 when 15 miners died. In total, there were 42 mining deaths in 2013. Of those 42, 20 occurred at coal mines (unchanged from the previous year) and 22 at metal and nonmetal mines, an increase of six from the previous year. Nine of the metal and nonmetal 22 deaths occurred in the 4th quarter.

In general, mining fatality and injury rates have been on a downward trend. 2011 recorded historic low fatality and injury rates. 2012 fatal and injury rates fell even lower, followed by fiscal year 2013, with the lowest rates ever recorded.

For all mining, the preliminary 2013 fatal injury rate was 0.132 per 200,000 hours worked, an increase from 2012. The overall injury rate of 2.46 per 200,000 hours was a record low. For coal mining, the preliminary 2013 fatal injury rate was slightly higher than 2012, at .0176 fatal injuries per 200,000 hours worked. The overall injury rate of 3.08 per 200,000 hours was a record low. For metal and nonmetal mining, the fatal injury rate increased to .0108 per 200,000 hours worked. The overall injury rate of 2.11 per 200,000 hours worked was a record low.

The number of deaths of mine contractors dropped to a record low as well, with a total of four fatalities, compared to five the previous year. The fatal injury rate for contractors dropped to .0061.

For the third consecutive year, mining industry compliance continued to improve. Inspectors issued 118,759 citations and orders in 2013, a 15 percent decline from the prior year.

"MSHA has implemented a number of actions to improve compliance, and it shows," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The mining deaths, however, particularly in the 4th quarter of 2013, make clear that more needs done to protect our nation's miners."

MSHA actions include:
  • the special impact inspection initiative targeting troubled mines
  • the revised Pattern of Violations enforcement program to rein in chronic violators
  • the Rules to Live By initiative designed to prevent common types of mining deaths
  • new examination rules requiring underground coal mines to "find and fix" hazards during mine examinations. 
Several stakeholder initiatives, such as improved guidance on guarding of equipment and fall protection at metal and nonmetal mines, have also led to significant improvements.

The number of mines in operation decreased in 2013, from 14,093 to 13,708. The number of working miners also declined, from 387,878 to 374,069. MSHA will release a final version of the calendar year data in July.


OSHA Forms Alliance In Georgia To Reduce Exposure to Silica in the Construction Industry

OSHA has formed an alliance with several organizations in Atlanta (Georgia) to provide employers and workers in the construction industry with information, guidance and training to prevent overexposure to crystalline silica dust.

The agreement was signed by OSHA, the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Occupational Safety and Health Division, Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, the Georgia Local Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers on Tuesday, April 15.

"This alliance demonstrates the proactive commitment of federal, state and other partners to protect the safety and health of workers in the construction industry," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Atlanta.

Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles has long been known to cause silicosis, a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease. Leading scientific organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have also confirmed the causal relationship between silica and lung cancer.

Occupational exposure to crystalline silica often occurs as part of common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock and stone products. Processes historically associated with high rates of silicosis include sandblasting, sand-casting foundry operations, mining, tunneling, cement cutting and demolition, masonry work, and granite cutting.

OSHA has recently proposed to update its current silica standard. Published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2013, OSHA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica aims to update the inconsistent and outdated permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards, as well as to establish other provisions to better protect workers. OSHA just concluded three weeks of hearings on the proposed rule and is now receiving post-hearing comments. Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets, is available at http://www.osha.gov/silica/.


Related past posts:
Arizona vs. OSHA - The Story Continues
Are Southern Auto Parts Manufacturers Being Targeted?
Bad Choices Lead To Workplace Accidents

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Last Week's Significant Citations - Wyoming and California

OSHA defines a significant citation as one with more than $100,000 in proposed fines. An OSHA citation is a claim by OSHA that there has been a safety violation. It does not mean a violation has taken place, nor that the violation is as severe as claimed. The company has 15 days to contest OSHA claims. The following are the citations OSHA announced last week that have total fines of $100,000 or more.

Sinclair, WY Refinery Faces Citations Resulting from Sept 27 Incident ($201,000)
BART Fined For Accident That Killed 2 Transit Workers ($210,000)


The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Salt Lake City-based Sinclair Oil for seven violations stemming from a September 2013 incident at the Sinclair Refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming. An OSHA inspection following the September 27, 2013 explosion and subsequent fire resulted in seven citations and proposed penalties totaling $201,000. No injuries occurred as a result of the incident.

“The OSHA investigation revealed a variety of violations present that could have been prevented if the required internal inspections had been conducted and the necessary safety procedures had been followed,” said Director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Joan Evans. “Every employer has a duty to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. Sinclair has several health and safety related projects and improvements in process. We look forward to the long-term resolution of these issues.”

Monetary penalties go entirely to the local school district where the violations occurred.

The OSHA investigation found that an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at Sinclair Refinery’s #4 Hydro-Desulphurization (4HDS) Unit within the Hydrocracker Complex on Friday, September 27, 2013, at 10:10 p.m. Hydrogen​ embrittlement of a carbon steel control valve in the 4HDS Unit caused a leak of hydrogen which ignited. Hydrogen embrittlement is the process by which various metals become fatigued, brittle and fracture following exposure to hydrogen. The source of ignition is unknown. As a result, the control valve had deteriorated from the inside-out and caused the leak and subsequent explosion.

Sinclare, Wyoming Refinery in 2008 - Photo by Charles Willgren

The following citations were issued by OSHA as a result of the September 27 incident:

Willful Violations

During the inspection, OSHA found conditions that merit two willful violations. A willful violation is defined as a situation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety. Violations in the willful category total $140,000 in fines. The inspection found:
  • Citation 2-1: Adequate quality assurance review, which helps ensure the proper use of materials in construction and appropriate installation procedures, had not been performed for the flow control valve assembly. The valve was found to be carbon steel and was not suitable for the 4HDS unit.
  • Citation 2-2: Required inspection and testing of a corrosion-prone piping loop within the 4HDS unit had not been adequately performed. Repeat citation.
Repeat Serious Violations

The inspection found a condition that merits one repeat serious violation. A repeat serious violation exists when the workplace hazard has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. This violation carries a $35,000 fine.
  • Citation 3-1: A process hazard analysis, a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, had not been performed to specifically address the consequences of failure of engineering and administrative controls within the required time period on the 4HDS Unit.
Serious Violations

The inspection found conditions that merit four serious violations. A serious violation could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm. Violations in the serious category total $26,000 in fines.
  • Citation 1-1: Adequate emergency response radio communication protocols were not properly in place at the time of the incident.
  • Citation 4-1: A process hazard analysis, a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, had not been performed to specifically address the hazards present in the 4HDS process within the required time period.
  • Citation 4-2: A pre-start up safety review, a full evaluation of initial start up procedures and normal operating procedures to ensure a safe transfer into the normal operating mode, was not adequately performed within the required time period.
  • Citation 4-3: Initial air quality monitoring was not conducted immediately following the explosion.

BART Train - Photo by Franco Folini
Cal/OSHA cited the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) last week for willful serious safety violations that resulted in two workers being killed by a fast-moving train in Walnut Creek (California) last October. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $210,000.

Cal/OSHA issued the citations for three willful serious violations after its investigation found the following:
  • The two workers who were killed, Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels, did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous energized third-rails. Sheppard was a BART special projects manager, Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.
  • A trainee was at the controls when the accident occurred—his trainer, a high-ranking transportation manager, was seated in the passenger car with other BART managers and another trainee. He could not view the track from his vantage point in the passenger car.
  • BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were both inadequate and not followed.
When the accident occurred on October 19th, trains were being operated on a non-passenger basis. BART train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced operator-in-training at the controls, was proceeding to its destination of Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m. The high-ranking manager designated as the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the control cab. Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the open control cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view the trainee’s actions and observe the track. The trainee saw the workers and was attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.

BART had its “simple approval” authorization process in place at the time of the accident, which made employees working on train tracks responsible for their own safety. On two previous occasions, in 2001 and 2008, employees were fatally injured while operating under “simple approval” authorization. Cal/OSHA issued citations after investigations of both incidents. The day after the 2013 fatality accident, BART suspended the “simple approval” process for track maintenance.

Cal/OSHA issues citations for serious workplace safety violations when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. The violation is classified as willful when an employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists and no reasonable effort is made to eliminate the hazard.


Related Past Posts:
Fall Hazards, Lack of Guarding and LOTO Result In Citations
$2,300,000 Fine Announced by OSHA
OSHA Significant Citations

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Last Week's Safety News

April 14, 2014
Use these links to go directly to each section of last week's safety news:

Safety News Briefs

  • AZ vs. OSHA - The Story Continues

OSHA Significant Citations

  • Precision Custom Coatings LLC Cited For Repeat Violations ($185,400)
  • NY Paper Manufacturer Cited For Violations At Multiple Cites ($298,100)

World Safety News

  • Canada - Workplace Safety Includes The Effects of Offsite Bullying And Harassment
  • Australia - Business Closures and Redundancies Lead to Higher WorkSafe Claims
  • Middle East - The Dangers of Arc Flash

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Safety News Briefs - AZ vs. OSHA - The Story Continues

A regular news feature summarizing workplace safety related news.

We scan newspapers, magazines and the internet for safety news that isn't being reported elsewhere. The following are links to safety-related news and articles that came out during the past week. If you have safety news, or safety tips, send them to: duralabelpro@gmail.com.


Arizona vs. OSHA - Part II

Last week I reported that Arizona-OSHA was not conforming to the Federal OSHA standards for fall protection at construction sites, and risked being taken over by the federal OSHA.  However, the Arizona legislature feels they have standards that are as effective, if not more effective, than the federal standards.

This week the Arizona Daily Star reports that that Arizona legislature has modified the Arizona fall protection standard. However, it still addresses fall protection in a different way than does the federal standard.  The question is, will the federal OSHA agree that the Arizona standard provides protection that is at least as good as the federal standard.  The article reports that:

"Arizona regulations require homebuilders to identify fall hazards on their sites between 6 and 15 feet, write them down, take actions to mitigate against hazards and then train their employees on the safety standards. Kamps said he sees these as superior to the fall protection standards above 6 feet mandated by OSHA."

Read the article here.


Related past posts:
Are Southern Auto Parts Manufacturers Being Targeted?
Bad Choices Lead To Workplace Accidents
Safety News Briefs - Focus On OSHA General Duty Clause

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OSHA Significant Citations - Fall Hazards, Lack of Guarding & LOTO Result In Citations

OSHA defines a significant citation as one with more than $100,000 in proposed fines. An OSHA citation is a claim by OSHA that there has been a safety violation. It does not mean a violation has taken place, nor that the violation is as severe as claimed. The company has 15 days to contest OSHA claims. The following are the citations OSHA announced last week that have total fines of $100,000 or more.

Precision Custom Coatings LLC Cited For Repeat Violations ($185,400)
NY Paper Manufacturer Cited For Violations At Multiple Cites ($298,100)


Willful and Repeat Citations Issued After Machine Operators Suffer Hand Injuries at Fabric Manufacturing Facility

Following two workplace incidents leaving one machine operator's hand crushed and another with a partial hand amputation, OSHA cited Precision Custom Coatings LLC (Totowa, N.J.) for one willful, one repeat and 12 serious safety violations, including failure to provide required machine guarding, at the company's fabric manufacturing facility in Totowa.

OSHA's investigation began in September 2013 in response to a referral from the Totowa Police Department after a machine operator's hand was crushed while moving materials through a roller machine. During the investigation, OSHA was contacted about another incident where an employee suffered a partial hand amputation while performing machine maintenance. Proposed penalties total $185,400.

"With the proper machine guarding in place, this company could have prevented these needless, life-altering injuries," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. "Employers are responsible for eliminating or controlling hazards when the operation of a machine or accidental contact could injure the operator or others. This employer's failure to do so created catastrophic consequences."

The willful violation, with a $70,000 penalty
, reflects the company's failure to use danger tags and proper guards on machinery to warn and protect employees from burn hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The repeat violation, with a $38,500 penalty, was due to a lack of machine guarding to protect operators from hazards created by ingoing nip points and rotating parts. The company was cited for the same violation in December 2011. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Carrying a $76,900 penalty, the serious violations include:
  • Lack of a midrail on an aerial lift work platform.
  • Lack of standard railings on an open-sided platform more than 4 feet above a lower level.
  • Liquefied petroleum gas containers not stored properly.
  • Lack of danger tags to warn of burn hazards on dry can rollers.
  • Inadequate lockout/tagout procedures and training for controlling hazardous energy.
  • Lack of training for employees operating powered industrial trucks.
  • Powered industrial truck left unattended with elevated forks.
  • Lack of guards for rotating shafts and portable grinder.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The citations can be viewed at:
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PrecisionCustomCoatingLLC_942873_0326_14.pdf.


OSHA cited Burrows Paper Corp., based in Little Falls (NY), for repeat and serious safety violations at two of the company's work sites. Burrows faces $298,100 in proposed fines following inspections by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office.

"The proposed fines reflect both the gravity of the cited hazards and the employer's refusal to use required safeguards," said Chris Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "Workers could have been injured in falls, electrocuted or suffered other injuries because of the employer's repeated failure to ensure a safe workplace."

The inspections were initiated as part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting inspection plan. The inspections were conducted because the company's injury and illness rates exceeded national incident rates for 2009 and 2010. Burrows is a food grade paper and packaging manufacturer that has five paper machines in four mills located in New York and Mississippi. It employs approximately 700 workers.

During the inspection of the company's Mohawk Valley Mill at 489 West Main St., OSHA inspectors found three serious safety violations for stairways that lacked railings; papermaking machines that lacked guarding to prevent employee contact with their moving parts; and an electrical hazard related to the use of electrical equipment not approved for the location. Additionally, inspectors identified six repeat violations for safety hazards related to falls, lack of eyewash stations and additional machine guarding and electrical hazards.

The inspection of the East Mill at 730 E. Mill St. found two serious safety violations for exposure to combustible paper dust, electrical issues and a malfunctioning exit light. Additionally, it identified found four repeat safety violations for machines with insufficient guarding.

A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any of its facilities in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA had previously cited Burrows in 2010 and 2011 for similar hazards at locations in Little Falls and Lyons Falls. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.


Related Past Posts:
$2,300,000 Fine Announced
OSHA Significant Citations
OSHA Significant Citations - Workers Exposed To Amputation Hazards

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World Safety News - Workplace Safety Includes Offsite Bullying And Harassment

Workplace Safety News Highlights From Around The World


We scan newspapers and magazines around the world for safety news that isn't reported elsewhere.

The following are links to workplace safety-related news and articles that we noticed this past week. If you have international safety news, safety tips, or suggestions send them to: duralabelpro@gmail.com.


Canada - Workplace Safety Now Includes Effects Of Offsite Bullying And Harassment In British Columbia

British Columbia now has legislation governing bullying and harassment of workers.The Red Deer Advocate reports:

"Employers are responsible for bullying and harassment that affects their workers off-site, even if the perpetrator is not an employee; as well as bullying and harassment by visitors to their work place. And employees have an obligation to report such behavior, whether they’re the victim or just a witness."

Read the article here.


Australia - Business Closures and Redundancies Lead to Higher WorkSafe Claims

The Geelog Advisor reports on rising costs for WorkSafe (Australia's worker's comp system) claims.

"GEELONG workplace injury claims have cost more than $250 million over the past five years, with mental health ­afflictions rising 43 per cent, WorkSafe figures reveal. Almost three people are ­injured every day at work, with 5479 injuries recorded by the watchdog from 2009 to February 2014."

Claims for mental disorders jumped nearly 150% with the increase attributed to Geelong’s volatile work climate and a lack of job security.  (Geelong is located near Melbourne).

Read the story here.


Middle East - The Dangers of Arc Flash

Health and Safety Middle East magazine has a comprehensive article about arc flash safety.  The article covers arc flash dangers, test methods, the hierarchy of control, and information on protective garments.

The article concludes by stating:

"When all other control measures to reduce the risk of an arc flash have been investigated/implemented, protective clothing and PPE requirements should be considered. Protective clothing and PPE are required to limit workers’ exposure to incident energy should an arc flash occur. Incident energy causes burns – the major hazard to individuals from an arc flash."

Read the article here.


Related past posts:
Businesses Must Address Domestic Violence
World Safety News - Companies Change Attitude On Safety
Companies Change Attitudes On Safety

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