Annual DOL OIG report outlines challenges for OSHA, MSHA

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Photo: Department of Labor Office of Inspector General
First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has “exacerbated” the challenges for OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to use their resources to protect the safety and health of workers, according to the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

In 2020 DOL Top Management and Performance Challenges, an annual report released Nov. 16, DOL OIG notes that the number of whistleblower complaints has increased during the pandemic while full-time staffing in the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program has decreased.

MSHA, meanwhile, suspended five of its enforcement activities, including its “accident reduction program,” as of May. The agency also reduced its work in 13 areas, including mine emergency operations, but continued 15 activities at full capacity, including regular safety and health inspections and fatal incident investigations.

“MSHA needs to do more to address the potential backlog of suspended and reduced enforcement activities resulting from the pandemic and develop a plan to manage the backlog once full operations resume,” the report states. “Further, MSHA needs to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at mines and use that information to determine whether to issue an emergency temporary standard related to the pandemic.”

The report also highlights OSHA’s difficulties in verifying that employers have abated hazards at general industry and construction worksites.

“OSHA needs to complete its initiatives to improve employer reporting of severe injuries and illnesses and enhance staff training on abatement verification, especially of smaller and transient construction employers,” DOL OIG states.

Other challenges noted in the report:

  • A 25-year high in black lung cases and the need to develop strategies to address it. MSHA is studying its August 2014 coal dust rule, but this analysis likely will take a decade or more to be completed, DOL OIG states.
  • Powered-haulage incidents, which accounted for nearly half of mining fatalities in 2017 and 2018. MSHA launched an initiative on the topic in 2018 that includes a website, videos, safety materials and mine-site visits.
  • Both agencies are challenged on how to regulate respirable crystalline silica. As noted in another report released the same day, OSHA and MSHA have different permissible exposure limits.

OSHA revised its National Emphasis Program on respirable silica in February and issued a revised directive for inspection procedures. DOL OIG notes that the agency conducted a webinar for inspectors on how to inspect for silica violations and enforce “various provisions of the new standards.”

“OIG is currently performing an audit to determine the extent OSHA has protected workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica,” the report states.


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

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $2,856,533 In Coronavirus Violations

First published by OSHA.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Nov. 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued 204 citations arising from inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $2,856,533.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

OSHA has withdrawn a citation issued on Oct. 23, 2020, to Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, New York, (Inspection #1473958 with proposed penalty of $9,639) after the employer provided evidence of a good faith attempt at complying with the standard in question.

OSHA has already announced citations relating to the coronavirus arising out of 178 inspections, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom. In addition to those inspections, the 26 inspections below have resulted in coronavirus-related citations totaling $369,404 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.

Establishment Name Inspection
Number
City State Initial
Penalty
The Cleaning Company Inc. 1483403 East Haven Connecticut $6,940
Lawrence + Memorial Hospital Inc. 1476231 New London Connecticut $15,422
Butterfield Health Care VIII LLC 1474191 Bolingbrook Illinois $12,145
Geneva Nursing and Rehabilitation Center LLC 1474458 Geneva Illinois $13,494
The Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center Inc. 1488985 Boston Massachusetts $16,193
South Shore Medical Investors LLC 1478069 Scituate Massachusetts $13,494
Grand Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 1474377 Saint Louis Missouri $12,145
Hamilton Operator LLC 1488528 Hamilton Square New Jersey $13,494
Hazlet Garden Group 1486252 Hazlet New Jersey $13,359
Mystic Meadows Rehabilitation & Nursing Center 1486441 Little Egg Harbor Twp. New Jersey $32,965
Elmwood Evesham Associates LLC 1487353 Marlton New Jersey $12,145
Montclair Hospital LLC 1473011 Montclair New Jersey $13,494
Prime Healthcare Services-St. Michael’s LLC 1479171 Newark New Jersey $25,061
Optimize Manpower Solutions Inc. 1470599 South Plainfield New Jersey $5,000
Family of Caring LLC 1473777 Woodcliff Lake New Jersey $12,145
Boro Park Operating Co. LLC 1488796 Brooklyn New York $26,989
Boro Park Operating Co. LLC 1488814 Brooklyn New York $11,567
Buffalo General Medical Center 1474063 Buffalo New York $1,928
Rego Park NHLTD 1488595 Flushing New York $13,494
Forest Manor Inc. 1487472 Glen Cove New York $13,494
Amsterdam Nursing Home Corp. 1475704 New York New York $13,494
Bayada Home Health Care Inc. 1480129 New York New York $8,675
Schnur Operations Associates LLC 1488554 White Plains New York $12,145
Cold Spring Hill Acquisition LLC 1487532 Woodbury New York $25,061
Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital 1474193 Warren Ohio $13,494
Athena Health Care Systems 1487891 Woonsocket Rhode Island 11567

A full list of what standards were cited for each establishment – and the inspection number – are available here. An OSHA standards database can be found here.

Resources are available on the agency’s COVID-19 webpage to help employers comply with these standards.

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.


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.

Former OSHA head expects an emergency temporary standard ‘very early’ in Biden administration

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Aurora, CO — Protecting the health and safety of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a high priority for President-elect Joe Biden as he prepares to take office in January, according to former OSHA chief David Michaels.

That starts with OSHA issuing an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases – something worker advocacy groups and some lawmakers have called for in recent months.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Biden will issue an emergency temporary standard very early in his tenure,” Michaels said during a Nov. 11 webinar on the post-election future of worker safety and health, hosted by the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities. “I think you have to do that immediately. The importance of that is employers need to know what the rules are.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden released a 4-Point Plan for Our Essential Workers that called on the Trump administration to immediately release and enforce an ETS to give employers and frontline employees “specific, enforceable guidance” on reducing on-the-job exposure to COVID-19.

Michaels – who led OSHA for seven years under the Obama administration – said he expects an ETS from the Biden administration to include language on physical distancing, mask requirements and workplace ventilation.

“And if [employers] don’t do those things, they have to explain why,” he said. “It will have a huge impact, because standards are a wholesale way to deal with issues that inspections just do on a regional basis. Standards are powerful because many employers want to be law-abiding. They will follow a standard.”

Despite being pushed to issue an ETS on infectious diseases by lawmakers from both parties as well as via multiple petitions and lawsuits from labor unions, federal OSHA officials have consistently reiterated the agency’s position to use existing rules – including its General Duty Clause – to protect workers during the pandemic.

The agency also has relied on dozens of industry-specific guidance documents, which serve only as recommendations to employers. MichiganOregon and Virginia recently have issued ETSs in absence of one from federal OSHA.

Webinar co-presenter Matthew Wynia, a professor and bioethicist at CU, said OSHA guidance leaves open the opportunity for some employers to not follow it.

“The reason for standards is to establish a level playing field,” Wynia said. “You’ve laid a floor and said, ‘You cannot go below this.’”


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.

DOL OIG releases FY 2021 audit plans for OSHA, MSHA

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Photo: oig.dol.gov

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General intends to conduct an audit of the number and types of inspections OSHA is using to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as OSHA’s plans to address future pandemics, according to a fiscal year 2021 audit work plan released Nov. 2.

DOL OIG states that “OSHA has reduced its number of inspections and increased its number of non-formal complaint investigations.” OSHA was named in a lawsuit filed by meatpacking employees in July, the document adds.

The audit is among DOL OIG’s seven OSHA-focused discretionary audits – including four related to COVID-19 – planned for FY 2021, which ends Sept. 30. Discretionary audits are conducted with funds left over after mandatory audits – those required by law or regulation – have been completed.

OIG currently is looking into the protection of OSHA inspectors’ health during the pandemic. Other planned audits concern OSHA’s collaboration with other federal agencies that conduct onsite workplace safety and health inspections, and how OSHA uses complainant interviews during inspections.

“Inspectors are not required to interview complainants at any point during the inspection process, which could result in OSHA having little interaction with complainants and witnesses during complaint inspections,” OIG states. “This audit will focus on OSHA’s use of complainant and witness testimony during a complaint inspection to ensure the complaint or referral was addressed adequately.”

Another audit in progress is a review of OSHA’s silica standards, recently amended after 13 years of research and development. The other two planned audits will examine the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and OSHA’s “lookback reviews” on its own standards, which last occurred more than a decade ago. The latter audit will include examinations into OSHA’s nearly 50-year-old ammonium nitrate standard and 30-year-old Process Safety Management Standard (1910.119).

OIG is continuing to look into the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s modification or cancellation of more than 12,300 citations and orders from the beginning of 2013 through September 2019. Two other planned MSHA-focused audits concern the agency’s efforts to address dust sampling manipulation and mine rescue response plans.


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.

COVID-19 Guidance on Ventilation in the Workplace

First published by OSHA.

OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers and workplaces during these unprecedented times. The agency will be issuing a series of alerts designed to keep workers safe. Ensuring adequate ventilation throughout the work environment can help to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Employers should work with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to consider steps to optimize building ventilation. An HVAC professional can ensure that the ventilation system is operating as intended. The following tips can help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus:
Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick.

  • Ensure all HVAC systems are fully functional, especially those shut down or operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic.
  • Remove or redirect personal fans to prevent blowing air from one worker to another.
  • Use HVAC system filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher, where feasible.
  • Increase the HVAC system’s outdoor air intake. Open windows or other sources of fresh air where possible.
  • Be sure exhaust air is not pulled back into the building from HVAC air intakes or open windows.
  • Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to increase clean air, especially in higher-risk areas.
  • When changing filters, wear appropriate personal protective equipment. ASHRAE recommends N95 respirators, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shields), and disposable gloves.
  • Make sure exhaust fans in restrooms are fully functional, operating at maximum capacity, and are set to remain on.
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)


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.

ICYMI: U.S. Department of Labor Acts to Help American Workers and Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

First published by U.S. Department of Labor.

WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took a range of actions to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.

Reopening America’s Economy:

Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:

Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned:

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor is focused on protecting the safety and health of American workers, assisting our state partners as they deliver traditional unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits, ensuring Americans know their rights to new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, providing guidance and assistance to employers, and carrying out the mission of the Department.


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.

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $913,133 In Coronavirus Violations

First published by OSHA.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Oct. 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited 62 establishments for violations, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $913,133.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

OSHA has already announced citations relating to 37 establishments, which can be found at dol.gov/newsroom. In addition to those establishments, the 25 establishments below have received coronavirus-related citations totaling $429,064 from OSHA relating to one or more of the above violations from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 2020. OSHA provides more information about individual citations at its Establishment Search website, which it updates periodically.

Establishment Name Inspection
Number
City State Initial
Penalty
Marion Regional Medical Center Inc. 1472689 Hamilton Alabama $9,290
Quest Management Group Inc. 1474518 Tallahassee Florida $24,290
Pensacola Care Inc. 1474819 Tallahassee Florida $11,567
Alliance Health of Braintree Inc. 1473536 Braintree Massachusetts $13,880
Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley 1478339 Littleton Massachusetts $21,115
Alliance Health of Brockton Inc. 1474628 Brockton Massachusetts $12,145
Hackensack Meridian Health Hospitals Corp. 1472186 Hackensack New Jersey $15,422
Essex Residential Care LLC 1472725 West Caldwell New Jersey $13,494
Barnert Subacute Rehabilitation Center LLC 1474902 Paterson New Jersey $13,494
84 Cold Hill Road Operations LLC 1473525 Mendham New Jersey $13,494
Hackensack Meridian Health System 1477909 North Bergen New Jersey $13,494
292 Applegarth Road Operations LLC 1487345 Monroe Township New Jersey $23,133
1515 Lamberts Mill Road Operations LLC 1472780 Westfield New Jersey $26,988
Hackensack Meridian Health Hospitals Corp. 1474520 Hackensack New Jersey $9,639
The Matheny School and Hospital 1476359 Peapack New Jersey $13,494
IJKG Opco LLC 1477379 Bayonne New Jersey $25,061
MPV New Jersey MD Medical Services P.C. 1482167 Nutley New Jersey $23,133
Prime Healthcare Services – St. Michael’s LLC 1472330 Newark New Jersey $25,061
Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health 1475320 Toms River New Jersey $13,494
St. Barnabas Hospital 1472869 Bronx New York $23,133
St. Barnabas Hospital 1473218 Bronx New York $23,133
Northwell Health Orzac Center for Rehabilitation 1476726 Valley Stream New York $23,133
Hudson Pointe Acquisition LLC 1486893 Bronx New York $22,555
VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, St Albans Community Living Center 1474970 Jamaica New York $0
Masonic Village of the Grand Lodge of PA 1475223 Lafayette Hill Pennsylvania $15,422

A full list of what standards were cited for each establishment – and the inspection number – are available here. An OSHA standards database can be found here.

Resources are available on the agency’s COVID-19 webpage to help employers comply with these standards.

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.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


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.

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.