DuraLabel's Weekly Safety News

Blog Author Angelique Sanders

Weekly safety news. Stay in touch with regulations from OSHA, NFPA, and other safety codes. Find out about other companies' best and worst practices. We scour the internet to provide you with helpful training resources and the latest safety information.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Safety News Briefs - Part 2 - Lockout Or Lookout

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.

Lockout Or Lookout

As I scan OSHA citations each week I'm noticing that citations that include LOTO seem to be increasing.  Either OSHA is paying more attention to LOTO, or employers are paying less attention to LOTO.  Whatever is happening, LOTO is not something to be ignored, nor given only half your attention.

An article in Material Handling and Logistics magazine looks at a circumstance in which an employer is trying hard to be safe and have appropriate LOTO, but they still miss something important, and unknowingly put their employees at risk.

Read this article (click here) to learn about some aspects of fork lift safety and LOTO you might not have considered.

The Dukes of Workplace Hazard

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal points out that OSHA's new silica rule could cost industry as must as $5-1/2 billion dollars a year in compliance costs, yet the rule is unenforceable because measuring silica exposure at the levels OSHA is proposing is extremely difficult.  The article points out that under the new regulation there is a good possibility that employers will have strong incentives to stop self-regulating, with the result being increased exposure to silica.

The article points out that the silica rule, along with other new OSHA rules: "will require 534,000 businesses to overhaul their practices... the American Chemistry Council's early estimate says the total economic damage will tally $5.45 billion a year. The rules will cost the fracking oil and gas industry an estimated $1,120 per affected employee, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis."

Read the article in the Wall Street Journal.

Cal/OSHA Facing Complaint Resulting From Inadequate Manpower

A whistle-blower group based in Washington has filed a complaint with OSHA alleging that Cal/OSHA no longer meets the minimum standards required for a state-run OSHA program.  The main point of the complaint is that there are too few Cal/OSHA inspectors to adequately respond to safety issues and conduct inspections in California.

The LA Times reports that:

"At the end of 2013, California had 170 inspectors, said the report written by a former Cal/OSHA employee. That's down 8% from 1989 totals, when the state had far fewer workers, and 11% less than in 2011, when Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown replaced Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a result, California has just one inspector for every 109,000 workers, compared with a ratio of 1 to 66,000 in states where the federal government is responsible for job site safety."

Read the story here.

New York's Scaffold Law - Worst In The Nation - Boon For Lawyers

A New York Post editorial reports that New York has a unique law related to scaffolding that essentially means that if someone claims to be hurt, the only thing to be decided is howm much money they'll get.  The article reports:

"Greedy trial lawyers are so shameless as to stand around construction jobs sites and hand out T-shirts and other materials with their contact info so that anyone who gets hurt immediately knows who to call — often times before they even call an ambulance."

 Read the New York Post editorial here.

Minimizing OSHA Liability Through (More Than) An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to minimize the liability that can result from an OSHA inspection is to avoid having your workplace inspected by OSHA.  But, should you be inspected, you need to be prepared for the inspection, and know how to defend yourself should a citation be issued. This article in Industry Week provides six tips that help in all of these areas.

The six tips are:

Tip 1: Perform a Self-Assessment
Tip 2: Create and Implement an Effective Safety and Health Program
Tip 3: Be Prepared for an Inspection
Tip 4: Know Your Rights and the Process
Tip 5: Evaluate Potential Defenses
Tip 6: Take Advantage of OSHA Programs

Read the article and get the details here.

OSHA Focuses On Protecting Cell Tower Workers Following Increase In Accidents

A maintenance worker fell to his death January 31st from a cell tower in Cameron County, Texas. The next day, a cell phone tower collapsed in Clarksburg, WV. Minutes later a second tower at the same Clarksburg site also fell. The collapse of these two towers resulted in the deaths of two workers and a firefighter responding to the scene, and sent two other employees to the hospital with serious injuries.

As a result, OSHA is collaborating with the National Association of Tower Erectors, and other industry stakeholders, to ensure that every communication tower employer understands their responsibility to protect workers performing this high-hazard work.

There has been an alarming increase in preventable injuries and fatalities at communication tower worksites. In 2013 there were thirteen fatalities related to cell towers, more than in the previous two years combined. This trend appears to be continuing, with four worker deaths occurring in the first five weeks of 2014. To address the hazards of working on cell towers OSHA is increasing its focus on tower safety. A letter has been sent to communication tower employers urging compliance and strict adherence to safety standards, and that common sense practices be followed.

OSHA has created a new Web page targeting the issues surrounding communication tower work. The web page is located at:


The OSHA actions follow a November 2013 memo to OSHA's compliance officers and regional administrators mandating increased attention, education and data collection on the industry.

Of the 13 communication tower-related fatalities that occurred in 2013, the majority were a result of falls. OSHA requires employers to provide adequate fall protection equipment, train employees how to use the safety equipment, and ensure that they use it properly and consistently. In the past few months, tower workers have also been injured or killed by falling objects, the structural collapse of towers, and equipment failures. For example, OSHA issued citations in December 2013 to Custom Tower LLC of Scott, La., for one willful violation following the death of a worker who fell approximately 125 feet.

OSHA will continue its outreach and enforcement efforts to make sure that communication tower workers are adequately protected. Small and medium-sized employers can access OSHA on-site consultation programs for free assistance in providing safe workplaces.

OSHA Extends Compliance Date For Crane Operator Certification Requirements

OSHA issued a proposed rule to extend the compliance date for the crane operator certification requirement by three years to Nov. 10, 2017. The proposal would also extend to the same date the existing phase-in requirement that employers ensure that their operators are qualified to operate the equipment.

OSHA issued a final standard on requirements for cranes and derricks in construction work on Aug. 9, 2010. The standard requires crane operators on construction sites to meet one of four qualification/certification options by Nov. 10, 2014. After OSHA issued the standard, a number of parties raised concerns about the qualification/certification requirements. After conducting several public meetings, OSHA decided to extend the enforcement date so that the certification requirements do not take effect during potential rulemaking or cause disruption to the construction industry.

Comments may submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details and additional information about this proposed rule. Comments must be submitted by March 12, 2014.

OSHA held three stakeholder meetings on operator certification/qualification issues in April 2013 and posted detailed notes of the meetings at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/stakeholders.html, a Web page devoted to the stakeholder meeting. A list of frequently asked questions are also posted on OSHA's Cranes and Derricks in Construction Web page to provide additional clarification and address some comments and concerns raised by stakeholders.

Related past posts:
Safety News Briefs - OSHA Increases Fine
Safety News Briefs - What To Expect From OSHA In 2014
Safety News Briefs - Can An Employee Sue Their Supervisor

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posted by Steve Hudgik
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