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, April 21, 2014

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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