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OSHA revises beryllium standard for general industry

Beryllium

Photo: JacobH/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has finalized revisions to its beryllium standard for general industry. Announced July 13, the final rule includes changes to five definitions and the addition of one new definition – beryllium sensitization.

Beryllium is a lightweight metal that can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and chronic beryllium disease – also known as berylliosis.

The revised definitions address:

  • Beryllium work areas
  • Chronic beryllium disease
  • A chronic beryllium disease diagnostic center
  • Confirmed positive
  • Dermal contact with beryllium

Additional revisions include methods of compliance, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping. A new Appendix A is “designed to supplement the final standard’s definition of beryllium work area,” the notice states.

The compliance date for these changes is Sept. 14.

OSHA announced proposed alterations to its beryllium standards for the construction and shipyard industries on Sept. 30.

Brake Safety Week is Set for Aug. 23-29

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Week will proceed as scheduled, Aug. 23-29. Enforcement officials will inspect commercial motor vehicles throughout the week and vehicles found to have critical out-of-service brake violations, or other critical vehicle out-of-service inspection item violations, will be restricted from traveling until those violations are corrected. Vehicles that pass eligible inspections may receive a passed-inspection CVSA decal.

Checking brake system components is always part of the roadside inspection process; however, inspectors will be paying special attention to brake hoses/tubing during this year’s Brake Safety Week to highlight the importance of those components to vehicle mechanical fitness and safety.

The brake systems on commercial motor vehicles are comprised of components that work together to slow and stop the vehicle, and brake hoses/tubing are essential for the proper operation of those systems. Brake hoses/tubing must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks and appropriately flexible. Brake hoses/tubing are an important part of the braking system so when they do fail, they can cause problems for the entire braking system.

During last year’s International Roadcheck inspection and enforcement initiative, brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for 45.1% of all vehicle out-of-service conditions. That’s more than any other vehicle violation category. And during last year’s Brake Safety Week, 13.5% of the commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related vehicle inspection item violations and were placed out of service.

Brake Safety Week is part of law enforcement’s effort to reduce brake-related crashes by conducting roadside inspections and identifying and removing unsafe commercial motor vehicles from roadways.

“Despite the pandemic, commercial motor vehicle safety inspectors continue to prioritize vehicle and driver safety by conducting inspections every day,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Safety is always our top priority and it’s our mission to ensure the vehicles on our roadways have met all safety standards and regulations. This is especially important as we rally behind truck drivers as they transport essential goods during this public health crisis. We need to do everything we can to ensure that the vehicles truck drivers are driving are as safe as possible.”

In addition to CVSA’s Brake Safety Week, August is also Brake Safety Awareness Month. Along with inspections and enforcement, law enforcement agencies also engage in outreach and awareness efforts to educate drivers, motor carriers, mechanics, owner-operators and others on the importance of proper brake maintenance, operation and performance.

“Brakes are one of the most important systems in a vehicle,” added Sgt. Samis. “Failure of any component of a brake system could be catastrophic. Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles.”

Brake Safety Week is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake program, in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

Show compassion, provide stability, share hope: Total Worker Health experts talk return-to-work planning

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Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Washington — The director of NIOSH’s Office for Total Worker Health says employers should think about the physical and mental health needs of their employees returning to the job amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Continue to focus on the supports that workers need most in difficult times,” L. Casey Chosewood said during the agency’s June 25 webinar on strategies for safely returning people to the workplace. “They obviously want to trust you as they return to work, so show them compassion, provide stability and share hope that we will all get through this together.”

NIOSH colleagues R. Todd Niemeier, industrial hygiene team lead, and Kevin H. Dunn, a research mechanical engineer, joined Chosewood in discussing reopening scenarios for general business, offices and manufacturing settings.

They encouraged employers to get familiar with several key guidance documents, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 and Resuming Business Toolkit, which includes a restart readiness checklist and worker protection tool.

Dunn said restarting normal or phased business operations is an opportunity for employers to implement and update COVID-19 preparedness response and control plans. These plans should be specific to the workplace, identifying all areas and job tasks in which employees face potential exposure, and include measures to eliminate or control exposures.

Other recommendations:

  • Designate a COVID-19 workplace coordinator, and ensure all workers know who this person is and how to contact him or her. The coordinator also should know and follow local and state regulations, as well as public health guidelines.
  • Conduct a thorough hazard assessment to learn about existing and potential hazards as workers return.
  • Consider changing duties of vulnerable workers to minimize their risk and contact with customers and co-workers. A cashier, for example, could be moved to a restocking job, if it’s appropriate and the worker agrees to the new role.
  • Follow CDC guidance on air and water systems in facilities reopening after a prolonged shutdown. This includes following the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Standard 180-2018, which establishes minimum requirements for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning inspection and maintenance.
  • Delegate authority so local offices or branches can react based on regional COVID-19 conditions, which vary by state. This will ensure local teams have a stake in how they respond appropriately.
  • Increase the outdoor air ventilation rate or total ventilation rate to improve central air filtration to the highest level possible that doesn’t impact overall airflow.
  • Remove items that create traffic, such as coffee machines and bulk snacks.
  • Allow more flexibility for time off and paid sick leave so employees who have to care for children or sick relatives can adjust their schedules accordingly.
  • Focus on proper and regular cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic and high-touch areas.
  • Regularly include workers and labor unions in safety discussions.

“Above all, keep communicating and provide those necessary flexibilities (for workers),” Chosewood said.

Operation Safe Driver Week Starts Today

Greenbelt, Maryland (July 12, 2020) – Starting today through July 18, law enforcement personnel will issue warnings or citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in dangerous driving behaviors as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), although Americans have been driving less due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, the fatality rate per mile driven increased 14% compared to March 2019. NSC’s traffic fatality  confirms that speeding and reckless driving during the pandemic led to a disproportionate number of crashes and fatalities.

As the  of vehicles on roadways decreased in March and April, the average speed in the five largest U.S. metropolitan areas increased by as much as 75% compared to January and February. And in some of the normally more-congested areas of the country, average speeds increased by as much as 250%. For example, the average 5 p.m. speed on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles went from 19 mph to 68 mph. In Chicago, the average speed on Interstate 290 more than doubled to 62 mph from 24 mph. In the Washington, D.C., region, average speeds during the evening rush rose from 27 mph to nearly 70 mph on the capital beltway, well above the 55-mph speed limit. And  to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, from March 23 to May 3, tickets issued for driving 100 mph or more increased 53% compared to 2019, even as traffic levels decreased.

To address his disturbing increase in speeding during the pandemic, this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week will focus on speeding.

Other unsafe driving behaviors that enforcement personnel will be looking for throughout the week include distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, etc.

Behavioral  from five weeks prior to the first stay-in-place order (Feb. 6 to March 15) was analyzed and compared to data generated over the next five weeks (March 16 to April 19) – a time frame in which most shelter-in-place orders were announced. According to the data, speeding was up by 27% on average and hard braking climbed 25%. Phone usage on the nation’s roadways increased in the weeks following the stay-at-home guidelines, up by 38% in mid-April. These behavioral changes contributed to a 20% increase in collisions per million miles traveled since the beginning of the shutdowns.

To find out about Operation Safe Driver Week events in your area,  the agency/department responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicle safety within your jurisdiction.

CVSA – in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the law enforcement community and the motor carrier industry – launched the  in 2007 to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from dangerous driving behaviors.

COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA answers FAQs on protecting workers

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Photo: Maica/iStockphoto

Washington — OSHA has published on its website answers to more than 40 frequently asked questions on protecting workers from exposure to COVID-19.

Based on inquiries received from the public, the FAQs cover a wide range of topics, including testing, cleaning and disinfection, employer requirements, personal protective equipment, returning to work, training, and worker protection concerns.

“OSHA is committed to giving employers and workers the information they need to work safely in this rapidly changing situation,” acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt said in a July 2 press release.

The FAQ guidance is part of a series of OSHA publications on COVID-19. The agency previously issued guidelines on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 and returning to work.

Assessing COVID-19 hazards, controls in manufacturing facilities: CDC publishes toolkit

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Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Atlanta — A new toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is designed to help workplace safety and health professionals and public health officials assess manufacturing facilities’ COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures.

The toolkit includes a checklist to “determine whether control measures in place align with CDC/OSHA guidance.” CDC recommends conducting a checklist assessment when a COVID-19 control plan is developed and each time it’s revised. The assessment should include these steps:
Pre-assessment: Inform all parties of the assessment’s goals. Work as a group to review the checklist to determine if each part applies to your company.
Walkthrough: While conducting the walkthrough of a facility, use the checklist to document what you find. Observe as much of the plant processes as possible. Limit participation to those familiar with plant processes.
Post-assessment: After conducting the assessment, discuss observations, develop action items, determine steps to protect workers, and prioritize actions to take to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Other resources are quick reference slides for safety pros and health officials, as well as quick reference guides in the form of one-page flyers for employers and employees. The toolkit also can be used to assess manufacturing facilities’ overall hazard assessment and control plans.

CDC says the guidance will be updated “as needed and as additional information becomes available.”

Notice of Enforcement Discretion Determination: Random Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing

July 6, 2020

NOTICE OF ENFORCEMENT DISCRETION DETERMINATION:
RANDOM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AND ALCOHOL TESTING

On March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b), related to the effects of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is aware that the motor carrier industry continues to experience operational disruptions caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. As the Nation engages in a phased re-opening, the pace of return to normal operations will vary across the country. In some regions of the United States, motor carrier employers subject to controlled substance (drug) and alcohol testing under 49 CFR part 382 may be unable to comply with certain testing requirements due to the ongoing impacts of the emergency.

In recognition of these barriers to full compliance in some locations, the Agency may exercise discretion to determine not to enforce the minimum annual percentage random testing rates for drugs and alcohol, and the requirement that each employer ensure that the dates for administering random drug and alcohol tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year, as set forth in 49 CFR 382.305(b)(1) and (2) and 49 CFR 382.305(k), respectively. FMCSA emphasizes, however, that employers capable of meeting these requirements must continue to do so.

Employers must continue to select drivers at the required rate of 50 percent of their average number of driver positions for controlled substances, and 10 percent for random alcohol testing during the calendar year 2020.  If a test is unable to be completed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the motor carrier must maintain written documentation of the specific reasons for non-compliance. For example, employers should document closures or restricted use of testing facilities or the unavailability of testing personnel. Additionally, employers should document actions taken to identify alternative testing sites or other testing resources.

Similarly, employers who are unable to ensure that the dates for administering random controlled substances and alcohol tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year should document the specific reasons why they did not meet this requirement. For example, in addition to the lack of available testing facilities or personnel, there may be other factors, such as prolonged or intermittent driver furloughs due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The Agency issues this Notice to assure employers unable to fully comply with the requirements identified above that we will provide reasonable enforcement flexibility during this unprecedented pandemic, while also meeting FMCSA’s core safety mission. This Notice is not intended, and should not be perceived, as suspending the current random testing requirements.

This Notice pertains to employers’ noncompliance, during calendar year 2020, with the random testing requirements described above. The Agency may exercise enforcement discretion in connection with motor carrier investigations occurring in calendar year 2021.

This Notice:

  1. Acknowledges the current and anticipated disruptions to the administration of drug and alcohol testing caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  2. Considers the interests of public safety and the continuing need to free up medical supplies and facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  3. Requires that employers who are capable of complying with 49 CFR 382.305(b) and 49 CFR 382.305(k) must continue to do so; and
  4. Creates no individual rights of action and establishes no precedent for future determinations.

Jim Mullen
Deputy Administrator
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Group petitions FMCSA to delay final rule amending trucker hours-of-service regulations

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Photo: Grafissimo /iStockphoto

Washington — A coalition of safety advocacy groups, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider a controversial final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Submitted June 30 and filed by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Teamsters, the petition requests a stay of the effective date of the final rule – slated for Sept. 29 at press time – until the FMCSA administrator can further review the petition.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and published in the June 1 Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exception to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

The final rule doesn’t include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period.

The petition cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data showing that 4,951 fatalities in incidents involving a large truck occurred in 2018, as well as other research highlighting fatigue-related hazards associated with the profession.

According to preliminary data released in NHTSA’s May 2020 Traffic Safety Facts report, fatalities in incidents involving a large truck are projected to have increased 1% in 2019.

“The final rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority,” the groups contend in the petition. “The agency had failed to address the significant risk to public safety posed by fatigued drivers of CMVs at a time when large truck crashes continue to increase.”

Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, and Lamont Byrd, director of the Teamsters’ safety and health department, voiced their opposition to the final rule in a May 14 press release.

“In an effort to increase so-called ‘flexibility’ for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further,” Hoffa said. “Trucking is already one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs. We shouldn’t be sacrificing the health and safety of drivers just to pad the profits of their big business bosses.”

yrd added: “Extending the workday to 14 hours for CDL-qualified short-haul drivers will result in an increase in occupational injuries and driver fatigue. We are also concerned with the revised rest break provision. This revised rule could allow a driver to spend hours performing physically demanding work and then drive up to eight hours without having to take a break.”

After multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register. The initial comment deadline also was delayed before FMCSA on March 2 submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

In a May 14 video posted on the Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the final rule’s provisions “will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better able to comply, and that benefits everyone.”

U.S. Department of Labor Using Public Service Announcements and Billboards to Promote Worker Safety and Health Amid Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has undertaken a public service messaging effort to remind workers that the agency is committed to ensuring their safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic.

OSHA is using public service audio announcements in English and Spanish, as well as bilingual digital and print billboard messaging, to encourage employees to contact OSHA with their concerns about workplace safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. Billboards will appear in states under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

The billboards and announcements are OSHA’s latest efforts to educate and protect American workers and help employers provide healthy workplaces as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. OSHA has published numerous alerts and advisories for various industries, including Guidance on Returning to Work, which assists employers as they reopen businesses and employees return to work.

Visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage frequently for updates. For further information about coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.