OSHA begins rulemaking process to revise standards for occupational exposure to lead

First published by OSHA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise its standards for occupational exposure to lead.

Recent medical research on workplace lead exposure shows adverse health effects can occur in adults at lower blood lead levels than recognized previously in the medical removal levels specified in OSHA’s lead standards.

The ANPRM seeks public input on modifying current OSHA lead standards for general industry and construction to reduce the triggers for medical removal protection and medical surveillance and prevent harmful health effects in workers exposed to lead more effectively.

OSHA asks the public to comment on the following areas of the lead standards:

  • Blood lead level triggers for medical removal protection.
  • Medical surveillance provisions, including triggers and frequency of blood lead monitoring.
  • Permissible exposure limit.
  • Ancillary provisions for personal protective equipment, housekeeping, hygiene and training.

The ANPRM will also gather comments on employers’ current practices that address workplace lead exposure and associated costs and other areas of interest.

Read the Federal Register notice for submission instructionsSubmit comments online by Aug. 29, 2022, on the federal e-Rulemaking portal and refer to Docket No. OSHA-2018-0004.

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

COVID-19 and health care workers: Walsh reiterates that permanent rule likely before year’s end

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication


Photo: Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee

Washington — Echoing comments made by OSHA administrator Doug Parker during a hearing three weeks earlier, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said a permanent standard on COVID-19 for the health care industry may be published sometime in the fall.

Walsh testified before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on June 15 – a day after appearing before the House Education and Labor Committee.

During the June 15 hearing, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the subcommittee, asked Walsh for an update on the forthcoming permanent standard. OSHA withdrew the non-recordkeeping parts of its emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 focused on health care workers Dec. 27 – around six months after it first went into effect.

“I believe it will be done in the next three to six months.” Walsh said.

“Three to six months from now?” Murray asked.

“Yes. It’s the rulemaking process,” Walsh responded. “I would love to speed it up, but, unfortunately, it’s the process that’s in place that we have to work under.”

Walsh also noted that OSHA is continuing its work on a standard on infectious diseases. According to the Department of Labor’s latest regulatory agenda, issued Dec. 10, that standard would be aimed at the health care industry and other “high-risk environments.”

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is expected to publish an updated regulatory agenda in the near future.

Mining deaths

During both hearings, Walsh highlighted a recent increase in mine worker fatalities. The labor secretary told Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM) separately that his department had a call with “some of the major mining companies in America” to talk about sharing best practices on safety.

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, 37 mining fatalities were recorded last year – up from 29 in 2020. As of June 15, the agency had reported 12 miner deaths this year.

“Something I did when I was the mayor of Boston when we had high shootings is we brought all the stakeholders to the table. We did the same thing with the mining industry,” Walsh told Capito. “We need to make sure we stay on top of it.”

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

‘Take-home toxins’: Study shows construction workers may be putting family at risk

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Boston — Construction workers are at increased risk of unintentionally tracking various toxic metals from the jobsite into their homes – potentially putting family members at risk, results of a recent study show.

Researchers from Boston University’s School of Public Health and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health visited the homes of 27 workers (21 in construction) who had at least one child to collect dust samples and make observations. They identified and measured for 30 different toxic metals. The workers completed a questionnaire regarding work- and home-related practices that could affect exposure.

Results showed that the construction workers’ homes had higher concentrations of arsenic, chromium, copper, manganese, lead, nickel and tin dust than the homes of the other workers, who had janitorial or automobile repair jobs.

The higher concentrations were associated with worker factors such as lower education, not having a work locker to store clothes, mixing work and personal items, not having a place to launder clothes, and not washing hands and changing clothes after work.

The researchers say the new data underscores the need for more proactive and preventive measures to reduce so-called “take-home toxins,” including policies, resources and education for workers and their families.

“Many professions are exposed to toxic metals at work, but construction workers have a more difficult job implementing safe practices when leaving the worksite because of the type of transient outdoor environments where they work, and the lack of training on these topics,” lead study author Diana Ceballos, an assistant professor of environmental health and director of the Exposure Biology Research Laboratory at BU, said in a press release. “It is inevitable that these toxic metals will migrate to the homes, families and communities of exposed workers.”

Ceballos adds that the issue is compounded when construction workers live in disadvantaged communities or substandard housing that may already contain toxic metals.

The study is scheduled to be published in the June issue of the journal Environmental Research.

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.

US Department of Labor finds Illinois contractor exposed roofing workers to deadly fall hazards twice in 10 days at separate job sites

First published by OSHA

Joshua Herion ignores OSHA safety rules, faces $360K in penalties

WAUKEGAN, IL – A Waukegan contractor – with a history of violating federal safety standards and ignoring safety citations – was cited again by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to deadly fall hazards at two separate job sites in October 2021. Joshua Herion – who does business as ECS Roofing Professionals Inc. – faces proposed penalties of $360,531.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector observed a foreman and two roofers atop a Hoffman Estates commercial building working at heights of up to 20 feet off the ground with inadequate fall protection. Just 10 days later, an OSHA inspector observed a crew of three working at heights greater than 12 feet atop a residential building in Waukesha, Wisconsin, without fall protection equipment.

Falls can be prevented: PLAN ahead to get the job done safely PROVIDE the right equipment TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

OSHA found ECS Roofing Professionals failed to equip workers with adequate fall protection equipment, train workers on its use, provide safe access to a ladder jack scaffold platform and ensure head and eye protection were used. The agency issued one willful, four repeat and eight serious violations.

“In both of these incidents, the foreman left the site and directed others to do so when OSHA inspectors began asking questions about their safety procedures. This defiant act demonstrates Joshua Herion and his company’s disregard for the safety and well-being of workers and the law,” said OSHA’s Chicago North Area Director Angeline Loftus in Des Plaines, Illinois, who investigated the Hoffman Estates job site. “Fall hazards make roofing work among the construction industry’s most dangerous jobs and among OSHA’s most frequently cited safety hazards.”

The pair of recent inspections continues the company’s history of failing to protect its roofing workers. Since 2014, ECS Roofing Professionals has been cited seven times by OSHA for similar hazards at other job sites. The employer has failed to respond to OSHA’s requests for information, has not responded to citations from previous inspections and has had $139,656 in unpaid OSHA penalties referred to debt collection.

“While ECS Roofing Professionals seem willing to ignore the dangers of falls and the potential for serious injuries or worse, OSHA will hold Joshua Herion and other roofing contractors accountable for failing to meet the legal requirements to provide safe working conditions,” said OSHA’s Area Director Christine Zortman in Milwaukee, who investigated the Waukesha job site. “Fall injuries and fatalities are preventable with the proper use of safety equipment and training.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2020, 1,008 construction workers died on the job, with 351 of those fatalities due to falls from elevation.

OSHA’s stop falls website offers safety information and video presentations in English and Spanish to teach workers about hazards and proper safety procedures. Learn more about OSHA’s annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls, set for May 2-6.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties for the Hoffman Estates site and the Waukesha site to comply, request an informal conference with each of OSHA’s area directors, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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.

EPA Proposes Landmark Ban on Asbestos

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

EPA Proposes Landmark Ban on AsbestosWashington — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed rule that would ban the use of chrysotile asbestos, a known human carcinogen linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma – a cancer of the membranes in the abdomen and chest.

Chrysotile asbestos is the only known form of asbestos imported into the United States. It’s found in products such as aftermarket automotive brakes and linings, brake blocks, sheet gaskets, and other vehicle friction products.

EPA’s proposal marks the first risk-management rule issued under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which requires existing chemicals to undergo a risk evaluation. It’s the first proposed ban of asbestos in more than three decades.

“Today, we’re taking an important step forward to protect public health and finally put an end to the use of dangerous asbestos in the United States,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an April 5 press release. “This historic proposed ban would protect the American people from exposure to chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, and demonstrates significant progress in our work to implement the Toxic Substances Control Act law and take bold, long-overdue actions to protect those most vulnerable among us.”

According to the American Public Health Association, asbestos kills almost 40,000 Americans annually.

In the Jan. 4, 2021, Federal Register, EPA announced Part 1 of a final risk evaluation for asbestos, which centers on chrysotile asbestos, and states the substance poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in numerous operations, including:

  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos diaphragms in the chlor-alkali industry
  • Processing and industrial use of asbestos-containing sheet gaskets in chemical production
  • Industrial use and disposal of asbestos-containing brake blocks in the oil industry
  • Commercial use and disposal of aftermarket automotive asbestos-containing brakes/lining, other vehicle friction products and other asbestos-containing gaskets

Mine safety campaign to reinforce operators’ obligation to train miners on the job properly

First published by MSHA

Photo property of USDOT

WASHINGTON – Over the past year, dozens of miners have been injured or killed in mining incidents, many of which could have been prevented with proper training and attention to tasks. This unacceptable trend has prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to initiate a new safety campaign to reach miners and educate mine operators on their responsibility to ensure a safe workplace and prevent deadly accidents.

The department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced the Take Time Save Lives campaign to reach miners, promote best practice resources, and ensure mine operators have the tools they need to fully train miners to use equipment.

“The purpose of this new campaign is simple: mine operators need to take the time to train miners on equipment and safety protocols, and miners need to take time to remember their training before they begin a task,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Jeannette Galanis. “While the Take Time Save Lives campaign specifically highlights best practices for frequently occurring incidents, our goal is to reach miners with a wide-ranging set of resources. MSHA will continue to ensure miners have the knowledge to stay safe on the job, but it’s up to mine operators to make sure that miners are fully trained and able to take time to follow best safety practices that can prevent deadly accidents.”

Miners and operators can find training resources and safety best practices for:

  • Powered haulage safety.
  • Roof and rib falls.
  • Fire suppression and prevention.
  • Fatality updates.

Read Acting Assistant Secretary Galanis’ blog post on the new safety campaign.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Improving Workplace Ventilation During Cold Weather

First published by OSHA

Improving Workplace Ventilation During Cold WeatherIndoor air quality in the workplace during cold weather is especially critical while influenza, cold, and COVID-19 viruses are circulating.

Improving ventilation is a key engineering control that can be used to increase the delivery of clean air and remove or reduce the concentration of viral particles or other contaminants. Building managers may perform some steps to improve indoor air, while others should be conducted by a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional.

Key steps to improve ventilation include:

  • Inspect air intake and exhaust ports to ensure they are clean and free of ice or snow.
  • Replace filters as necessary to ensure the proper function of the HVAC system.
  • Have an HVAC professional conduct all regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance.
  • Add portable air cleaners with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in spaces with high occupancy or limited ventilation.

Maintaining a healthy HVAC system requires an HVAC professional to:

  • Ensure all HVAC systems are operating in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and design specifications.
  • Maximize the amount of outdoor air supplied consistent with the heating capacity of the HVAC system. Rebalance or adjust HVAC systems to increase total airflow to occupied spaces. Total airflow includes both outside and recirculated air.
  • Install air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) 13 (or equivalent) or higher where feasible. If MERV-13 filters are not compatible with the HVAC system, use filters with the highest compatible filtering efficiency for the HVAC system.
  • Clean HVAC system drain pans, heating and cooling coils, and supply/return registers to eliminate areas where contaminants can settle.

To learn more about improving ventilation, visit osha.gov/ventilation.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Bill would restore increased tax rate on coal to fund black lung disability benefits

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — Proposed legislation would create funding for health care and other benefits for coal miners who have black lung disease by extending, for 10 years, a recently expired excise tax rate increase on coal production.

Black lung is another name for coal workers’ pneumoconiosis – a deadly condition caused by exposure to respirable coal mine dust.

The original increase excise tax rate, which supports the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, expired Dec. 31. H.R. 6462, introduced Jan. 20 by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Alma Adams (D-NC), would restore it. Although mine operators are generally responsible for paying black lung benefits, the fund helps finance benefits for miners and eligible survivors or dependents when no responsible mine operator is identifiable or the operator is out of business.

Effective Jan. 1, the tax rate fell to 50 cents a ton on underground coal and 25 cents a ton on surface coal – a 55% reduction from the previous rates of $1.10 and 55 cents, respectively. The fund already stands about $5 billion in debt, according to a press release from the House Education and Labor Committee, of which Scott is chair.

The release also cites a May 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office that concluded failure to extend the previous tax rate will swell the fund’s debt to roughly $15 billion by 2050.

“Long-term funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is a necessity,” Cecil Roberts, president of United Mine Workers of America International, said in the release. “Miners are suffering from [black lung] because they dedicated their lives to providing this nation with electricity and steel. The least Congress could do is ensure that the benefits they depend on to survive will always be there.”

In a November 2020 report, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General notes that more than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014 compared with 1995 to 1999.

“With the number of black lung cases rapidly increasing, Congress must take action to secure health care and benefits for disabled miners,” Adams said in the release. “We can’t allow the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to sink deeper into debt.”

In September, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced similar legislation (S. 2810). The bill hasn’t advanced past the Senate.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Tips to limit dust exposure in mines

First published by NIOSH

NIOSH has published a booklet that provides solutions that you can use to reduce exposure to dust at surface mines and facilities. Practical controls are presented that not only lower dust exposures but also reduce the risks for both musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and traumatic injuries (e.g., slips, trips, and falls). Beyond the obvious health benefits, it can be easier to justify engineering controls and interventions when greater impact can be achieved.

While traumatic injuries occur suddenly, both MSDs and respirable diseases tend to be the result of cumulative overexposures. Exposures both at home and at the workplace can combine and manifest themselves in the later years of your career, depending on your exposure rates and cumulative stress.

The information provided is based on experience gained within NIOSH and highlights solutions that are relatively low in cost and easy to implement. Dust control solutions that are practical to maintain have the greatest potential for sustained use and ultimately improved mine worker health and safety. This booklet is only a primer on dust control and injury prevention at metal/nonmetal mining operations. Additional resources are provided for more comprehensive coverage of these topics.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

COVID-19: Study explores which face mask combinations, modifications work best

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
COVID-19: Study explores face mask modifications
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Arlington, VA — Adding a brace or wearing a cloth face mask over a medical mask increases protection against aerosols carrying viruses – including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, results of a recent NIOSH study suggest.

Researchers tested, on a sample of humans and mannequins, two types of medical masks and three varieties of cloth masks purchased online. The researchers also looked at multiple mask fit modifications while simulating coughs and exhalations through a source control measurement system.

Findings show that using a brace over a medical mask blocked about 99% of exhaled aerosols and 95% of cough aerosols. Wearing a cloth mask over a medical mask prevented the passage of around 91% of exhaled aerosols and 85% of cough aerosols.

Nonmodified medical masks, meanwhile, blocked about 56% of cough aerosols and 42% of exhaled aerosols. Use of earloop toggles or an earloop strap, or knotting and tucking the mask enhanced aerosol-blocking performance. Crossing earloops or placing a bracket under the mask didn’t improve performance.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been considerable confusion about the most effective use of facemasks, especially among the general public, to reduce the spread of infection,” Ann Marie Pettis, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, said in a press release. “The NIOSH study findings are important and timely because they identify specific, practical combinations of facemasks and mask modifications that may improve mask seal and thereby measurably reduce the expulsion of infectious aerosols into the environment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises choosing facemasks that:

  • Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Completely cover the user’s nose, mouth and chin
  • Fit snugly against the side of one’s face with no gaps
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking from the top of the mask

The study was published online Dec. 15 in the American Journal of Infection Control, APIC’s official, peer-reviewed journal.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.