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MSHA Fatality #5

METAL/NON-METAL MINE FATALITY – On February 29, 2020, a plant foreman was priming the main suction pump on a dredge when a two-inch coupling on the waterjet pipe failed, knocking the victim into the water. Divers retrieved his body several hours later. The victim was not wearing a life preserver.

February 29, 2020 fatality accident scene
Best Practices:
  • Wear a life preserver where there is a risk of falling into the water.
  • Identify all possible hazards and ensure appropriate controls are in place to protect miners before beginning work.
  • Provide swimming training for everyone that works around water.
Additional Information:

This is the 5th fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “Machinery.”

MSHA Fatality #4

MINE FATALITY – On February 27, 2020, a trucking company employee died while helping to position a low-boy trailer.  The victim was standing in front of the trailer wheels to assist the driver.  The truck driver moved the truck forward causing the wheels of the trailer to strike the victim.

February 27, 2020 faatlity scene of the fatality accident
Best Practices:
  • Communicate your planned movements with the equipment operator before approaching mobile equipment and verify the information was received and understood.
  • Verify miners are clear before driving mobile equipment. Communicate your planned movements with miners and verify the information was received and understood.
  • Sound your horn to warn miners that you are about to move and wait to give them time to get to a safe location.
  • Establish policies and procedures for miners to stand in safe locations when directing mobile equipment.
  • Inspect backup alarms and collision warning/avoidance systems on mobile equipment to ensure they are maintained and operational.
  • Wear high visibility clothing when working around mobile equipment.
Additional Information:

This is the 4th fatality reported in 2020, and the 2nd classified as “Powered Haulage.”

MSHA Fatality #3

MINE FATALITY – On February 27, 2020, a miner died when an unsecured 20’x8’x1″ steel plate standing on edge fell and struck him. The steel plate was being used to cover the end of a feeder to allow an equipment operator to build an earthen ramp to the feeder.

February 27, 2020 accident scene
Best Practices:
  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work.
  • Identify and control all hazards.
  • Task train everyone on safe job procedures and to stay clear of suspended loads.
  • Require all workers to stay out of the fall path of heavy objects/materials that have the potential of becoming off-balance while in a raised position.
  • Monitor routinely to confirm safe work procedures are followed.
  • Be aware of your environment. Factors such as wind, snow, and icy surfaces can affect the stability of an object.
  • When securing an object, identify the location of its center of gravity.
Additional Information:

This is the third fatality reported in 2020, and the first fatality classified as “Handling Material.”

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing in Healthcare during COVID-19 Outbreak

WASHINGTON, DC – Following President Donald J. Trump’s memorandum on the availability of respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new temporary guidance regarding the enforcement of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. This guidance is aimed at ensuring healthcare workers have full access to needed N95 respiratory protection in light of anticipated shortages.

“The safety and health of Americans are top priorities for the President. That’s why the Administration is taking this action to protect America’s healthcare workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Today’s guidance ensures that healthcare workers have the resources they need to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“America’s healthcare workers need appropriate respiratory protection as they help combat the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Today’s guidance outlines commonsense measures that will keep personal respiratory devices available for our country’s healthcare workers.”

OSHA recommends that employers supply healthcare personnel who provide direct care to patients with known or suspected coronavirus with other respirators that provide equal or higher protection, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators.

This temporary enforcement guidance recommends that healthcare employers change from a quantitative fit testing method to a qualitative testing method to preserve integrity of N95 respirators. Additionally, OSHA field offices have the discretion to not cite an employer for violations of the annual fit testing requirement as long as employers:

  • Make a good faith effort to comply with the respiratory protection standard;
  • Use only NIOSH-certified respirators;
  • Implement strategies recommended by OSHA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for optimizing and prioritizing N95 respirators;
  • Perform initial fit tests for each healthcare employee with the same model, style, and size respirator that the employee will be required to wear for protection from coronavirus;
  • Tell employees that the employer is temporarily suspending the annual fit testing of N95 respirators to preserve the supply for use in situations where they are required to be worn;
  • Explain to employees the importance of conducting a fit check after putting on the respirator to make sure they are getting an adequate seal;
  • Conduct a fit test if they observe visual changes in an employee’s physical condition that could affect respirator fit; and
  • Remind employees to notify management if the integrity or fit of their N95 respirator is compromised.

The temporary enforcement guidance is in effect beginning March 14, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice.

For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Coronavirus Protection

A new OSHA alert and guidance document on COVID-19 provide general practices to help prevent worker exposure to corona virus.

Illustration of a coronavirus

“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the corona virus,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the corona virus in their workplaces.”

This guidance is part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to educate the workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers, and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel corona virus, as well as conducting outreach activities.
  • The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel corona virus.

For further information about Corona virus, please visit the HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

 

 

Final rule to amend trucker hours-of-service regs sent to OMB for review

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Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — A final rule the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration claims would add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

FMCSA submitted the rule March 2. Addressing attendees of the Truckload Carriers Association Conference the next day in Kissimmee, FL, acting agency administrator Jim Mullen said that although he could not go into the rule’s specifics, “please know that the goal of this process from the beginning has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers.”

On the heels of multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register and set an initial comment deadline of Oct. 7. The comment period later was extended to Oct. 21.

FMCSA weighed nearly 8,200 comments on the proposed rule. Among the highlights of the proposal:

  • Expanding the current 100-air mile short haul exemption to 14 hours on duty from 12 hours on duty, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.
  • Allowing covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour on-duty period.
  • Allowing covered CMV operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours in place of taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and TruckerNation.org, both longtime proponents of HOS reform, support the changes.

“We applaud the agency for submitting the final rule to OMB so quickly,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said in an article published March 3 in the association’s Land Line magazine. “As FMCSA continues to move forward with hours-of-service reform, we are optimistic the final product will create meaningful reform that provides drivers with more flexibility and control over their schedules. If FMCSA gets it right, we’re confident most drivers will be happy with the changes.”

In a March 3 video posted on Facebook, TruckerNation.org spokesperson Andrea Marks says, “It cannot be overstated enough how proud we are of the trucking industry that we are here.”

Moments later, Marks reminds viewers that, their optimism notwithstanding, the federal rulemaking process is neither “intuitive” nor “one that happens fast.”

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Executive Director Collin Mooney told Safety+Health that his organization expects the final rule to be published in May or June.

“If it’s done right, it could be a win-win,” Mooney said. “If there’s too much flexibility, well then, safety can be compromised.”

One concern Mooney cited was the possible effects on driving time in the event the adverse driving conditions and mandatory rest break provisions were compounded.

“Seventeen, 18, 19 hours is just going to be way too long for anybody, so we wanted to see that tightened up a little bit,” Mooney said.

OMB listed the status of the rule as pending review at press time.

MSHA Mine Fatality #2

COAL MINE FATALITY – On February 10, 2020, a mine examiner was operating a personnel carrier down a mine intake slope. Evidence indicates that the personnel carrier struck the left rib while traveling down the intake slope. The mine examiner was found unresponsive near the bottom of the slope, lying beside the personnel carrier.

Scene of the fatality accident depecting victim's location
Best Practices:
  1. Maintain control and stay alert. Be aware and stay in control when operating mobile equipment. Install mechanical devices that limit the maximum speed of the equipment.
  2. Operate mobile equipment safely. Operate equipment at speeds that are consistent with the type of equipment, roadway conditions, grades, clearances, and visibility.
  3. Test brakes, steering, and other safety devices. Correct safety defects before operating mobile equipment. Test mobile equipment before it is operated and before going up or down steep slopes.
  4. Always wear seat belts.
  5. Properly train miners. Ensure each operator of mobile equipment receives proper task training.
  6. Remove unneeded materials. Keep personnel carriers free of unneeded materials.
Additional Information:

This is the 2nd fatality reported in 2020, and the first classified as “Powered Haulage.”

‘Faces of Black Lung II’: NIOSH releases follow-up video

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Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Washington — Seated on a sofa and struggling to breathe – even with the assistance of oxygen – late Kentucky coal miner Peyton Mitchell, then 42, delivers a testimonial about his battle with black lung disease.

“It just really took a toll on me,” Mitchell says in a video released Jan. 21 by NIOSH. “All the activities I could do outside, I can’t do no more. I’m pretty well on oxygen 24/7 in the house. It’s just humid outside. You just can’t get out and do anything. I just can’t do anything no more.”

Mitchell died of black lung disease in September 2018 at the age of 43. The 20-minute video, Faces of Black Lung II – The Story Continues, was produced in his memory. The video is intended to raise awareness of the growing prevalence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis – a deadly but preventable condition commonly known as black lung – especially among younger miners. Rates of black lung disease have more than doubled over the past 15 years, according to NIOSH.

A follow-up to the agency’s 2008 video, Faces of Black Lung, the new video also features remarks from former coal miners Mackie Branham Jr., 39, and Ray Bartley, 47.

“Black lung disease kills, and it’s once again on the rise, striking miners at much younger ages than ever before,” Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says in the video. “It used to be that we’d see miners dying from black lung disease in their 60s, long before their time. But now, we see miners dying from black lung in their 40s. Even people that don’t have respiratory symptoms can have black lung. Catching it early can allow you to take steps to keep it from progressing to severe lung disease.”

NIOSH reminds mine workers that free, confidential health screenings are available through the agency’s Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program. Miners are eligible to receive a chest X-ray, breathing test and symptom assessment once every five years at a clinic near their mine, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Cdr. Cara Halldin, who helps lead CWHSP, says in the video. Additional screenings are offered via a NIOSH mobile testing unit.

Branham and Bartley, who along with Mitchell followed a family tradition of working in the mines, offer advice about the importance of early screening and detection.

“Just remember: Take care of yourself,” Branham says. “Because right now, I’ve got two 9-year-olds that I can’t play basketball with. I’ve got a boy I moved into college. I had to stop packing his clothes into his dorm. You can’t do what you used to.”

Adds Bartley: “Do I have any regrets working in the mines? No. I didn’t think I would get sick. My advice if you’re starting up … working in a mine: Stay in good air. Always be safe, work safe.”