OSHA back-peddles on guidance on aerial work platform fall protection

According to a recent article published by the  KHL Group ,  OSHA has rescinded its January 2009 letter of interpretation #20070823-7896 on the use of shock absorbing lanyards in aerial work platforms (AWP).  The 2009 letter of interpretation had created uncertainty in the industry by suggesting that a manufacturer’s requirement for a minimum anchorage point elevation of 18.5 feet would prevent the use of a fall protection system (6-foot lanyard with shock absorber, full body harness) in an aerial lift. This question was previously put to OSHA due to concerns that at times the distance between the platform and the ground would be less than 18.5 feet. The  OSHA Directorate of Construction (DOC)  has now rescinded the above letter of interpretation in an August 2011 memorandum to its regional administrators.  ”OSHA did not ban the particular lanyard but stated, based on the manufacturer’s instructions, which stipulated a minimum anchor point height of 18.5 feet, that it was likely that the lanyard’s use would not comply with OSHA standards at lower height. In such cases, use of the lanyard below 18.5 feet would apparently not provide adequate fall protection. This determination has raised questions about the use of body harnesses, typically married to appropriate lanyards, for fall protection in aerial lifts. To help avoid any confusion on the issue, DOC is rescinding the January 2009 letter.” “In rescinding this letter, OSHA is not concluding that the application described above is acceptable, rather it is clarifying that fall protection systems should not be based solely on information provided by the manufacturer, but should also take into account OSHA regulations and results of the job-specific risk assessment.,” said Tony Groat with IPAF. “IPAF believes that the primary choice for fall protection should be a restraint system, which stops the fall in the first instance.” For more information on fall protection while using aerial lifts go to:  The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF)  website.   http://www.ipaf.org  or  http://www.awpt.org

Missouri Dept. of Transportation wins Safety Award

I happy to report that one of OCCU-TEC’s long standing clients has won a safety award; the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) was recognized recently by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association for its work to save lives on Missouri highways.   MoDOT received the Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award for spearheading a statewide safety coalition that has helped the state realize a decrease in traffic fatalities and disabling injuries for the past five years.   The award also recognized the state for reaching its goal of 850 or fewer roadway fatalities two years early. Congratulations goes out to all our friends and everyone at MoDOT who have worked very hard on increasing safety awareness and reducing both worker injuries and public roadway accidents. You can get more information on MoDOT’s safety iniatives here:   savemolives

NIOSH and OSHA release “Nail Gun Safety: A Guide for Construction Contractors”

According to the newly released guidance on nail gun safety by NIOSH and OSHA; Nail gun injuries are so common that two out of five residential carpenter apprentices experienced a nail gun injury over a four-year period. The guidance document is primarily for residential home builders and construction contractors, subcontractors, and supervisors. According to the document; NIOSH and OSHA developed it to give construction employers the information they need to prevent nail gun injuries. The guidance document covers nailers used for fastening wood, shingles, and siding materials, it also refers specifically to pneumatic tools but also applies to nail guns that use gas, electric, or hybrid power sources. It is a well constructed guide book that will provide some basic safety tips for use of nailers. It is my hope that someone actually reads it besides us safety professionals! You can find it at: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/NailgunFinal_508_02_optimized.pdf

OSHA CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF SAFETY

Throughout 2011, OSHA is presenting a series of materials and activities to celebrate the agency’s 40th anniversary. Visit the  OSHA at 40 Web page for resources including a short video using old and new footage to highlight key moments in the agency’s history, an interactive timeline and a commemoration of the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire . The page also links to an anniversary message from OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels as well as a video of his participation in a panel discussion on the nation’s progress in worker safety and health over the past forty years and the challenges that lie ahead.

10 Interesting Health and Safety Facts

10 Interesting Health and Safety Facts About 3.9 million employees are disabled at work in any given year. One work related injury occurs every 8 seconds. Accidental overdose of iron pills is the leading cause of poisoning deaths among children. Fire kills more Americans each year than ALL other natural disasters combined. Nature requires over 5 years to get rid of a cigarette butt. The energy needed to make 1 new aluminum can makes 20 recycled ones. About 8 out of every 10 adults will have a back injury in their lives. On average about 400 people die from excess heat (heat stroke) each year. Occupational skin diseases costs $1 billion annually in worker comp costs claims. Of the 42,000 traffic fatalities in recent years, 41% were alcohol related.

OSHA launches new webpage dedicated to I2P2

As noted in the August , 2011 edition of Safety + Helath magazine, OSHA has launched a new webpage on their website dedicated to Injury and Illness Prevention Programs or what is commonly referred to as I2P2.  The  webpage features links to various program resources, related OSHA documents and information regarding the costs of injurys and illnesses to the U.S. economy.  “The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 3.3 million serious work-related injuries and about 4,300 fatalities occurred in 2009. The human cost of preventable workplace injuries and deaths is incalculable. However, according to the 2010 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the direct cost of the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2008 amounted to $53.42 billion in U.S. workers compensation costs, more than one billion dollars per week. This money would be better spent on job creation and innovation. Injury and illness prevention programs are good for workers, good for business and good for America.” – Dr. David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor. For more information visit the webpage at: http://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/safetyhealth/index.html  

OSHA inspector charged with Extortion…”blackmailing the Hustler Club”

According to The Chronicle-Telegram (Ohio)  An OSHA compliance officer from Lorain, Ohio is accused of trying to blackmail Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Cleveland.   Joseph Schwarz pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to charges of extortion and possession of criminal tools. Schwarz, who works as a compliance officer for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is accused of falsely claiming to have video of customers doing drugs and performing illegal sex acts at the club, according to prosecutors. Brent English, Schwarz’s attorney, said his client will fight the charges. “He’s denied that he did anything that constitutes extortion,” English said. The 34-year-old Schwarz was arrested by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force on July 12 during a meeting investigators set up with him in which he was supposed to be paid the $10,000 he had demanded from the club while posing as a lawyer. According to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s office, Schwarz first contacted the club in early June and had been in contact with the club using his home and work computers, as well as his personal cell phone, in the alleged scheme. The FBI has declined to provide details on how the case came to the attention of law enforcement, but has acknowledged that the club cooperated with the investigation. OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said that Schwarz remains an employee of the agency but said he couldn’t comment beyond that. English said Schwarz has been placed on administrative leave while the criminal case is pending. Schwarz, who is free on a $5,000 bond, is due back in court later this month.

Congress proposes to merge the departments of Commerce and Labor

As the White House is putting its finishing touches on its initial proposal to reorganize parts of the government, seven Senators introduced a bill Thursday to merge the departments of Commerce and Labor into the Department of Commerce and the Workforce (DOCW). Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and six co-sponsors, want to build off the Government Accountability Office’s March report on duplication across government and President Obama’s deficit commission recommendations to consolidate parts of the government. “This common-sense approach reduces duplication by combining offices with similar functions within these two agencies and would streamline our approach to comprehensive economic policy,” Burr said in a release. Joining Burr in sponsoring the bill are Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Dan Coats (R-Ind.). The Office of Management and Budget is expected to release its plans by June 9 for how it will consolidate efforts around trade, exports and competitiveness. The deficit commission recommended a broader reorganization by moving the Small Business Administration to Commerce, and transferring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from Commerce to the Department of the Interior. Burr said the new merged DOCW would promote economic growth and workforce protections, and preserve the independent functions of both agencies and would not make changes to specific policy. He added the bill also would combine the support and administrative offices of the two agencies, thus saving more money by consolidating 35 offices into 12 and eliminate or reduce the funding of seven programs or initiatives. There is no House companion bill.   Read more at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?sid=2400116&nid=35