Cranes and derricks in railroad roadway work: OSHA clarifies final rule; lists exemptions

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Photo: Washington State Dept. of Transportation

Washington — OSHA is providing specific exemptions and clarifications for railroad roadway work in its Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard.

According to a final rule published in the Sept. 15 Federal Register, the exemptions and clarifications are intended to “recognize the unique equipment and circumstances in railroad roadway work,” as well as reflect the preemption of OSHA requirements by Federal Railroad Administration regulations, including those for the safe operation of railroad roadway maintenance machines that have cranes or other hoisting devices.

Some of the exemptions apply to flash-butt welding trucks, the use of rail stops and rail clamps, dragging a load sideways, out-of-level work, and boom-hoist limiting devices for hydraulic cylinder-equipped booms. Operator training and certification will follow FRA regulations, OSHA states in a Sept. 14 press release.

This rulemaking culminates a 10-year period that began when the Association of American Railroads and a number of individual railroads filed a petition challenging the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard – published in August 2010.

OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking in July 2018 after reaching a settlement agreement with those organizations. Nearly a year later, FRA informed OSHA that it intended to preempt many of the requirements in the NPRM.

OSHA states in the rule that “Although any exemption from OSHA requirements resulting from the preemption of OSHA statutory authority by FRA would apply whether or not the OSHA regulations include any specific exemptions, OSHA believes it is still appropriate to amend the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to include the explicit exemptions for RMMs in the OSHA crane standard. Having the exemptions specified in the OSHA crane standard will provide additional clarity for employers in the railroad industry, including contractors, who may be unfamiliar with the legal implications of FRA’s action.”

The rule is scheduled to go into effect Nov. 16.


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U.S. Department of Labor Issues COVID-Related Citations


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls in Construction

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls

OSHA has resources for raising awareness and training workers about fall prevention during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls to keep workers safe.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers. Read More»


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

OSHA releases employer injury, illness data for 2016-2018

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Washington — OSHA has released work-related injury and illness data from a three-year period of electronic submissions of Form 300A.

Announced in a Sept. 4 press release, the release of the electronic injury and illness annual summaries from 2016 to 2018 comes after two June court decisions involving Freedom of Information Act cases: Center for Investigative Reporting v. U.S. Department of Labor and Public Citizen Foundation v. U.S. Department of Labor.

In the former case, Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu, from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled that Form 300A data isn’t confidential because, in part, employers are required to post the form in a prominent spot in their workplaces each year. Employers also must give a copy of Form 300A to current and former employees and their personal representatives, at no charge, upon request.

Establishments with 250 or more employees and those with 20 to 249 employees in certain “high-hazard” industries are required to submit Form 300A electronically each year. In an article published Aug. 25 on its news site Reveal, CIP reports that around 40% of the establishments required to submit data in 2016 didn’t do so. That percentage increased to more than 50 in each of the next two years.

Along with calendar year files, OSHA provides a data dictionary on its website.

“The fact that an employer provided data does not mean that the employer is at fault, that the employer has violated any OSHA requirements, that OSHA has found any violations, or that the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation or other benefits,” OSHA says in the release.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

National Preparedness Month 2020: Make Your Plan Today

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, and now is a good time to prepare for a natural disaster or emergency in the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reminds workers and employers to make a plan, so you know where to go and what to do to stay safe in an emergency. Here are a few things you can do to prepare:

  1. Develop a plan and understand how to put it into action. Employers should develop emergency plans and ensure workers know how to execute them. Plans should describe shelter locations, policies to ensure all personnel are accounted for, procedures for addressing hazardous materials in the workplace, and maps that designate specific evacuation routes and exits. OSHA’s Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool is a helpful resource to use.
  2. Build an emergency kit. Put together an emergency kit with the supplies and personal protective equipment you might need during an emergency. Include items like safety glasses or face shields for eye protection, cell phones with chargers, flashlights, and first aid kits.
  3. Shelter in place. Follow local emergency official announcements related to sheltering in place. In certain situations, you may need to take immediate shelter whether you are working from home, at the job site, or in between. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to “shelter in place.”
  4. Evacuate. Be aware if local emergency officials call for a mandatory evacuation of your area. Employers should examine how to safely shut down a facility if an evacuation is warranted. Don’t wait until too late. Due to COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that if you need to seek public shelter to bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person and hand sanitizer.
  5. Know what may impact your area and how you should respond. Stay aware of weather forecasts and warnings, and follow instructions issued by your local officials. Check the websites of your local National Weather Service and emergency management office. Employers should consider how an emergency might impact workers sheltering in place at a job site versus workers attempting to evacuate to safety. If local authorities or the on-site coordinators tell you to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

OSHA provides resources on workplace preparedness and response for a variety of hazards. For more information on protecting workers from emergency events, visit OSHA’s Emergency Preparedness and Response page. In addition to these resources, seek guidance from your local fire department, police department, and emergency management agency.

For additional information and resources on how to better prepare for emergencies, visit Ready.gov, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Understanding Compliance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic

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Photo: CDC/NIOSH

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the availability of respirators and fit-testing supplies. This document is intended to help employers understand and comply with OSHA’s temporary enforcement guidance for the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR § 1910.134).

Background
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a public health emergency that has dramatically increased demand for respirators, particularly N-95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), as well as fit-testing supplies ordinarily used to ensure that respirators fit workers properly and provide the expected level of protection. Shortages (either intermittent or extended) of both FFRs and fit-testing supplies have posed tremendous challenges. In order to allow essential operations to continue, many employers have had to utilize contingency and crisis strategies that are ordinarily not compliant with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. Examples of contingency and crisis strategies include: extended use of disposable FFRs, decontamination and reuse of disposable FFRs, and the use of foreign FFRs not approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It is important for employers to understand that deviations from normal respirator use come with increased risk for workers that, in certain circumstances, may only be allowable during this public health emergency because the alternative of no respiratory protection presents a greater danger to workers. In order to ensure adequate protection for workers during the use of contingency and crisis strategies, OSHA has issued temporary enforcement guidance to its Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs). This guidance allows CSHOs to exercise enforcement discretion in cases involving workplace exposures and an employer that is unable to comply with certain provisions of the Respiratory Protection standard because of supply shortages and has thus found it necessary to implement contingency or crisis strategies for respirator use by workers. Read More»


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Setting up a workplace safety and health program

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Looking for some quick recommendations for setting up a workplace safety and health program?
OSHA has 10 steps:
  1. Establish safety and health as a core value of your organization. Convey to your workers that starting and finishing their day safely is the way you want to do business. Let them know you intend to work with them to find and fix any hazards that could result in injury or illness.
  2. Lead by example. Model safe behaviors and make safety part of your daily conversations with workers.
  3. Create a reporting system. Develop and communicate a process for workers to report injuries, illnesses, near misses, hazards, or safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation. Include an option for anonymous reporting.
  4. Train your workers. Teach workers how to identify and control workplace hazards.
  5. Conduct inspections. Walk through the workplace with staff and ask them to identify any activity, piece of equipment or materials that concern them. Use checklists to help identify problems.
  6. Collect hazard control ideas. Ask workers for ideas on how to make workplace improvements and then follow up on their suggestions. Give them time during business hours, if possible, to research solutions.
  7. Implement hazard controls. Assign workers the task of choosing, implementing and evaluating the solutions they suggest.
  8. Plan for emergencies. Identify possible emergency scenarios and develop instructions on how to react in each case. Discuss these procedures during employee meetings and post them in a visible location in the workplace.
  9. Seek input on changes. Before you make big changes to the workplace, consult with workers to identify potential safety or health issues.
  10. Make improvements to your program. Set aside a regular time to discuss safety and health issues, with the goal of identifying ways to improve the program.

McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Work safely in the heat: What you need to know

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Photo: safetyandhealthmagazine.
Heat-related illnesses accounted for 783 worker deaths and nearly 70,000 serious injuries in the United States from 1992 to 2016. And in 2018 alone, 3,950 workers experienced days away from work as a result of nonfatal injuries and illnesses from on-the-job heat exposure.

“Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in the workplace, and although heat-related illness is preventable, each year thousands of workers are getting sick from their exposure to heat, and … some cases are fatal,” Stephen Boyd, deputy regional administrator for OSHA Region 6, said May 19 during an OSHA webinar on preventing heat-related illnesses and injuries.

Working in a hot environment can trigger ailments that include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke – considered a medical emergency. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling faint or dizzy; excessive sweating; cool, pale, clammy skin; nausea or vomiting; rapid, weak pulse; and muscle cramps. Workers who are experiencing heat exhaustion need to get to a cool, air-conditioned place. If fully conscious, they should drink water, take a cool shower and use a cold compress.

Workers with heatstroke may experience a headache but no sweating, and have a body temperature above 103° F. Other symptoms are red, hot, dry skin; nausea or vomiting; and loss of consciousness. Call 911 if a case of heatstroke is suspected, then take action to cool the worker until help arrives.

Other tips from OSHA to help prevent heat-related illnesses include:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes.
  • If working outside, take rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing when working outdoors.
  • Monitor co-workers for symptoms of heat-related 
illnesses.

OSHA provides employer and worker resources for working in hot weather via its “Water. Rest. Shade.” campaign at osha.gov/heat.


McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Speeding up OSHA’s response to COVID-19 whistleblower complaints: DOL OIG makes recommendations

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Washington — Facing a staffing shortage and an increased number of complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA must improve the efficiency of its Whistleblower Protection Program, an audit report from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General concludes.

The program enforces 23 statutes that prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who report employer violations of various workplace safety, consumer product, environmental, financial reform and securities laws.

“When OSHA fails to respond in a timely manner, it could leave workers to suffer emotionally and financially, and may also lead to the erosion of key evidence and witnesses,” DOL OIG states in the Aug. 14 report.

An audit conducted by OIG found whistleblower complaints increased 30% during the first four months of the pandemic compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, the WPP’s number of full-time equivalent investigators dropped to 120 from 126 in 2019. As a result, some investigators have as many as 45 open cases – more than double the “optimal” maximum amount of 20, according to the report. OIG recommends OSHA fill these vacancies.

The office also recommends the agency continue to assess a triage pilot intended to speed up the complaint screening process and consider extending the program to all regions. The program, set up before the pandemic in Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), is designed to reassign older whistleblower complaints from regions with sizeable backlogs to regions with smaller backlogs.

“Whistleblower program officials have not utilized a similar approach during the pandemic to more evenly distribute whistleblower complaints,” the report states. OIG recommends the agency develop a caseload management plan to be able do so.

In general, whistleblower cases are assigned based on the whistleblower’s location or where the majority of witnesses appeared to be located. However, OIG points out, many investigations are conducted via telephone interviews and with electronic delivery of supporting documentation, making distributing caseloads easier.

Acting OSHA administrator Loren Sweatt agreed with the recommendations in a response memo dated Aug. 10 and addressed to Assistant Inspector General for Audit Elliot Lewis. She wrote that the agency has processed more than half of the COVID-19-related complaints received to date, with an average screening time of 10 days – faster than the agency’s fiscal year 2020 Operating Plan’s performance measure of 13 days.

Sweatt added that the “Whistleblower Investigations Manual” is close to its first published update since September 2011.

“In the meantime, the agency continues to issue new guidance to investigative staff, strengthen our collaborative relationships with our partner agencies, and develop new customer service and outreach tools,” she wrote.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

COVID-19 pandemic: OSHA releases guidelines for oil and gas industry

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Photo: OSHA

Washington — OSHA has published COVID-19-related guidance intended to help employers in the oil and gas industry reduce exposure among workers, including personnel in the sub industries and those whose tasks “make up the broader oil and gas industrial sector.”

The guidance includes a table with examples of tasks and associated risk levels, along with examples of engineering and administrative controls. Additionally, the agency addresses cloth facial coverings, safe work practices, personal protective equipment, and OSHA “flexibilities” on PPE requirements and prioritization during the pandemic.

Among the agency’s recommendations:

  • Defer work requiring close contact with others, if possible.
  • Configure communal work environments so workers are spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Stagger workers’ arrival, break and departure times.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in work areas to help minimize potential exposure.
  • Encourage workers to wear face coverings to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

“Employers with workers engaged in the oil and gas industry should remain alert to changing conditions and implement infection prevention measures accordingly,” OSHA states.