MSHA ‘actively working’ on a proposed rule on silica, Williamson says

Original article published by Safety + Health
Christopher-Williamson.jpg
Photo: US Department of Labor

Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration is “actively working” toward publishing a proposed rule on respirable crystalline silica, agency administrator Chris Williamson said Oct. 20.

The Department of Labor’s Spring 2022 regulatory agenda – published in June – showed MSHA’s intent to publish in September a notice of proposed rulemaking on silica. During a conference call for agency stakeholders, Williamson didn’t offer an updated timetable during the call but said the rule “is one of the top priorities” at the agency.

“Right now in this country, there’s only one worker population that does not have a certain level of protection when it comes to silica, and that is miners. Right now, under our existing standards, the permissible exposure limit (100 micrograms per cubic meter of air) is double what every other worker in this country has. So I just want to put that out there, that people know that’s the reality. We’re working very hard on an improved health standard that we think will make a difference and will definitely better protect miners.”

During the call, MSHA Chief of Health Gregory Meikle cited NIOSH-supported data that contends silica dust can be up to 20 times more toxic than other dusts. Meikle called on stakeholders to tailor existing best practices toward their individual mines and mine activities.

“Some of the levels we’re seeing on overexposures, we’ve got to get proactive if we’re going to protect miners,” Meikle said.


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OSHA cites Wauchula labor contractor after 35-year-old farmworker suffers fatal heat illness

First published by OSHA

Citrus Harvesting Inc. did not maintain an effective heat illness plan for workers’ safety

DUETTE, FL – A federal workplace safety investigation has found a 35-year-old farmworker died from heat illness on a Duette farm in the early evening of April 5, 2022. It was only his second day on the job.

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration learned the employee of Citrus Harvesting Inc. was harvesting strawberries at 5:45 p.m. when others observed the worker showing signs of disorientation. The worker became unresponsive and later perished after a co-worker took them to a housing unit. Temperatures that day rose to 89 degrees Fahrenheit.

OSHA cited the Wauchula farm labor contractor for two serious violations for exposing workers to hazards associated with high ambient heat and failing to ensure workers were adequately trained on first aid.

Citrus Harvesting did not maintain an effective heat illness prevention plan and neglected to develop a work and rest schedule based on environmental conditions. A work and rest schedule assists new hires in becoming acclimated to working in the heat.

The contractor faces $29,004 in proposed penalties.

“Citrus Harvesting Inc. failed to take reasonable steps to ensure employees assigned to work outdoors in hot temperatures are taking frequent rest and water breaks,” said OSHA Area Office Director Danelle Jindra in Tampa, Florida. “An effective heat illness prevention plan could have prevented this tragedy.”

In September 2021, the department announced enhanced and expanded measures to protect workers from the hazards of extreme heat, indoors and out. OSHA is currently engaged in the federal rulemaking process to consider a heat-specific workplace standard to more effectively protect employees from hazardous heat.

OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign educates employers and workers on the dangers of heat in the workplace and offers resources to recognize and reduce its hazards.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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OSHA proposes $1.3M in penalties for metro-area roofing contractor after second employee suffers fatal fall in 3 years

First published by OSHA

Serial violator ALJ Home Improvement Inc. cited repeatedly for fall-related violations

TARRYTOWN, NY – A Nanuet roofing and siding contractor with a significant history of safety violations and penalties now faces an additional $1,343,363 in penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated another fatal fall by a company employee, the second in three years.

OSHA opened an inspection of ALJ Home Improvement Inc. on Feb. 8, 2022, when a worker fell from the roof of a three-story residential construction project in Spring Valley. In February 2019, another company employee died in a fall at a Kiamesha Lake work site.

The agency determined that ALJ failed to provide fall protection training or ensure effective fall protection safeguards were used. They also failed to provide eye protection for employees using pneumatic nail guns, exposing them to the risk of serious eye injuries.

The employer’s knowledge of fall and eye protection requirements, and its deliberate and recurring violations of these standards, led OSHA to issue egregious citations for each instance an employee at the Spring Valley site was exposed to the hazards. In total, ALJ Home Improvement was cited for nine willful and three serious violations.

View the citations.

Since 2019, OSHA has inspected ALJ Home Improvement six times, issuing 21 violations and levying $299,425 in fines. Its infractions include multiple willful fall protection and eye protection violations, cited most recently in November 2021.

“ALJ Home Improvement continues to ignore the law and callously exposes its employees to falls from elevation, the construction industry’s deadliest hazard,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York. “Their repeated willful violations are evidence of an indefensible and inexcusable pattern of disregard for the safety of their employees. OSHA will continue to take strong enforcement actions against such employers.”

ALJ Home Improvement Inc., a roofing and siding contractor working throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 351 of the 1,008 construction workers who died on the job in 2020 were victims of falls from elevations. Fall-related injuries and fatalities can be prevented through knowledge and training.


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OSHA extends comment period on proposal to amend rules on workplace lead exposure

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

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Washington — In response to multiple stakeholder requests, OSHA has extended until Oct. 28 the comment period on a proposed rule that would revise the agency’s standards on occupational exposure to lead in general industry and construction.

According to a notice published in the Aug. 18 Federal Register, the extension provides stakeholders additional time to collect information and data necessary to submit responses and comments. The initial deadline was Aug. 29.

OSHA, in the June 28 Federal Register, published an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking seeking input on blood lead levels for medical removal and return to work, as well as:

  • Medical surveillance provisions, including triggers and frequency of blood lead monitoring
  • Permissible exposure limits
  • Ancillary provisions for personal protective equipment, housekeeping, hygiene and training

The agency’s blood lead level for medical removal is 60 micrograms per deciliter or more for general industry and 50 micrograms per deciliter or more in construction. The return-to-work BLL is less than 40 micrograms per deciliter.

OSHA adopted its standards on lead exposure for general industry and construction in 1978 and 1992, respectively. Since then, studies by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, among other organizations, have indicated that adverse effects can occur at lower BLLs.

“For example, BLLs as low as 5 μg/dL have been associated with impaired kidney and reproductive function, high blood pressure, and cognitive effects attributed to prenatal exposure,” the ANPRM stated. “Poorer performance on neurocognitive and neuropsychologic assessments were observed in adults with BLLs as low as 5-19 μg/dL compared with adults with BLLs below 5 μg/dL.”


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OSHA cites Phoenix-area event facility operator for safety failures after investigation of worker’s fatal injuries

First published by OSHA

Required measures could have prevented tragedy at Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse

PHOENIX – A 30-year-old worker succumbed to injuries after an incident at the Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse at the Gila River Indian Community near Chandler. A federal investigation determined the fatality could have been prevented if the employer had implemented required safety measures.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that, in the early hours of Feb. 25, 2022, the worker was driving a cargo-scooter through what appeared to be an open gate and sustained severe injuries when they ran into a nylon tow strap strung across the opening. The worker was transported to an area hospital and later died. The strap was hung to try to keep the damaged gate closed.

OSHA inspectors found that Wild Horse Pass Development Center, operator of the Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse, exposed workers to serious injuries from struck-by hazards by failing to ensure the gate arm and strap were adequately reflective, and by failing to erect appropriate signage alerting drivers to the road closure and detour. Safety standards require that barricades and gate closures be clearly marked with reflective materials topped with vertical stripes along its entire length. OSHA also learned the company had not trained workers on the safe operation and use of cargo scooters.

The agency cited Wild Horse Pass Development Center for two serious safety violations, and proposed $20,302, in penalties.

“A worker’s life was lost because Wild Horse Pass failed to follow federal safety requirements,” said OSHA Area Director T. Zachary Barnett in Phoenix. “Employers are legally obligated to ensure a safe and healthful workplace and train workers on the hazards they may face so that they can return home safely at the end of each workday.”

Located near Chandler, Rawhide Western Town Inc. is an event management provider that operates Rawhide Western Town and Event Center. Part of the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority, the center includes more than 18 venues including a western town, event center and multi-use soccer stadium. The facility hosts competitions, concerts, festivals and other special events.

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


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Poor Safety Management System

First published by OSHA

Profits over people: Federal safety inspectors find 3 more Dollar Generalstores habitually disregarding workplace safety, risking employees’ lives

Company faces $1.2M in penalties after recent inspections, $6.5M in penalties since 2017

ATLANTA – When federal workplace safety inspectors visited three Dollar General stores in Georgia earlier this year, they found exit routes obstructed, boxes of merchandise stacked unsafely and electrical panels hard to access, violations often cited at Dollar General locations.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed more than $6.5 million in penalties after 78 inspections at Dollar General locations nationwide, including more than $450,000 in penalties as a result of three inspections in Georgia since 2017. OSHA inspectors frequently find unsafe conditions that put workers at risk and that could lead to disaster for employees and customers in an emergency.

Inspections at Dollar General stores in 2022 in Pembroke in February, and Hogansville and Smyrna in March identified four willful and seven repeat violations. Specifically, OSHA cited the company for failing to keep receiving areas clean and orderly and for stacking materials in an unsafe manner. These hazards exposed workers to slips, trips and being struck by objects. OSHA also issued citations for exposing workers to fire and entrapment hazards by failing to keep exit routes and electrical panels clear and unobstructed.

As a result of the three latest inspections, OSHA has proposed $1,292,783 in penalties.

“Dollar General continues to demonstrate a willful pattern of ignoring hazardous working conditions and a disregard for the well-being of its employees,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Despite similar citations and sizable penalties in more than 70 inspections, the company refuses to change its business practices. OSHA will take all necessary enforcement actions and pursue all available remedies against Dollar General until it fixes the disconnect between its business model and worker safety.”

Dollar General’s pattern of disregarding worker safety was apparent at five other Southeast locations. In February 2022, OSHA proposed $1,048,309 in penalties after inspections at three locations in Mobile, Alabama, and one in Dalton, Georgia, found similar hazards. At another Mobile location, a December 2021 inspection led OSHA to propose $321,827 in penalties for exposing workers to slip and trip hazards and not keeping the main storeroom orderly to allow a safe exit during an emergency.

“Dollar General continues to make it obvious that profit means more to them than the safety of their employees,” Parker added. “The U.S. Department of Labor will make every effort to hold them accountable for their failures.”

Based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dolgencorp LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dollar General Corp. and operates about 17,000 stores and 17 distribution centers around the nation and employs more than 150,000 workers.

Dollar General has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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 ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.


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Amputation Hazards

First published by OSHA

Investigation finds Jacksonville wood crate, pallet company’s historyof violations continues, employees exposed to machine, other hazards

M&H Crates Inc. faces $248K in proposed OSHA penalties

JACKSONVILLE, TX – A Jacksonville wood crate and pallet manufacturer’s history of workplace safety violations continues after federal inspectors found the company exposed workers to amputation hazards in its February 2022 inspection.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection on Feb. 8, 2022, at M&H Crates Inc. after receiving a complaint. OSHA determined the company failed to develop, document or use lockout/tagout procedures to prevent sudden machine start-ups. They also discovered the company failed to ensure required machine guarding, which exposed workers to hazards, including amputation. In the manufacturing industry, machine guarding violations are OSHA’s most frequently cited infraction.

OSHA cited M&H Crates for serious and repeat violations for machine guarding hazards, housekeeping issues and failing to provide hearing protection as required. The company faces $248,866 in proposed penalties.

“M&H Crates Inc. continues to expose its employees to dangerous workplace hazards by ignoring required federal safety standards,” explained OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas. “These safeguards can be the difference between ending a shift safely and suffering a serious and life-altering injury. M&H Crates must develop and implement a company culture where worker safety and health is a priority.”

Prior to its recent inspection, OSHA cited M&H Crates following inspections in 2012, 2014 and 2020. In June 2020, inspectors examined safety failures after an employee cutting pallet boards suffered a finger amputation while using an unguarded band saw.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, 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.

Lack of Controls Causes Fatality

First published by OSHA

Lack of Controls Causes Fatality

US Department of Labor cites Grand Island recycling companyafter inspection prompted by 20-year-old worker’s fatal injuries 

Mid-Nebraska Disposal cited for exposing workers to multiple safety hazards

GRAND ISLAND, NE – A 20-year-old worker’s attempt at clearing a jam in an industrial cardboard baler at a Grand Island waste disposal company turned tragic when the worker fell into the baler, became caught and suffered severe amputation injuries. OSHA alleges the employer disregarded federal regulations designed to prevent such tragedies. Lack of Controls Causes Fatality

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration at Mid-Nebraska Disposal Inc. found the worker was feeding cardboard waste into the baler on Feb. 7, 2022, when debris jammed the machine. As the young worker tried to remove the stuck cardboard, they fell into the machine. The worker died the next day at a hospital.

OSHA alleges the company failed to ensure energy sources were locked out, which would have kept the machine’s operating parts from moving while the worker cleared the jam.

The agency cited Mid-Nebraska Disposal for 18 violations – two willful, 15 serious, and one other-than-serious – involving machine safety, permit-required confined space safety requirements, training and fall hazards. OSHA proposed penalties of $337,903, and has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“A 20-year-old’s life was cut short needlessly; he was on the job for just nine months. Employers are legally obligated to safeguard dangerous machinery and use required safety procedures for entering confined spaces,” said OSHA Area Director Matt Thurlby in Omaha, Nebraska. “Employers must follow all safety precautions and train workers to de-energize and lock out a machine before clearing jams or providing service or maintenance to prevent serious or fatal injuries.”

OSHA inspectors identified several violations for permit-required confined spaces, including failing to develop procedures, train workers, recognize hazards, place attendants outside when an employee enters, and ensuring emergency services are available.

The agency also cited Mid-Nebraska Disposal for exposing workers to slip and fall hazards from debris on the floors and from workers having to climb up railings to enter the machine. Inspectors also found an active rodent and vermin infestation in the facility.

Based in Grand Island, Mid-Nebraska Disposal offers residential, commercial, industrial/construction, recycling and compost services to 15 Nebraska communities.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Lack of Controls Causes Fatality


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Stop-work authority: USW publishes guide for workers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

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Photo: United Steelworkers

Pittsburgh — A new guide on stop-work authority from the United Steelworkers is aimed at helping workers develop and bargain for programs that allow them to halt unsafe or unhealthy operations and processes until hazards are abated.

Developed by USW’s health, safety and environment department, Bargaining for Stop Work Authority to Prevent Injuries and Save Lives features four checklists for developing a stop-work authority process. It also details the importance of well-designed SWA programs and the pitfalls of ineffective programs that exist at many worksites.

Additionally, the free guide contains a “model negotiated SWA process and contract language won by a USW local union.”

The first part of the guide details how the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and other laws don’t include SWA, how common SWA programs are in workplaces, and how a voluntary consensus standard supports SWA.

“The unfortunate reality is that flawed stop-work programs exist at many worksites, and this booklet will help to change that,” USW International President Tom Conway said in a press release. “In addition, workers often face challenges, including retaliation, in their efforts to stop unhealthy or unsafe work.”

Added Debra Coyle, executive director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council: “By applying the guide’s lessons and winning stop-work authority, unions can better protect both their members and communities from chemical fires, explosions, toxic releases and other dangers.”


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 and Construction

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

CPWR report highlights pandemic’s impacts

Silver Spring, MD — The rate of nonfatal illnesses in the construction industry jumped 81.4% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the annual average for the previous four years, according to a new report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

Using data from that covered different time periods from 2016 to 2022, researchers found that the rate of nonfatal illnesses in the construction industry increased to 12.7 per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2020 from an average of 7.0 per 10,000 FTEs over the four previous years. Overall, around 8,700 nonfatal illnesses were recorded in 2020, compared with an annual average of 4,600 over the previous four years.

The number of nonfatal respiratory illnesses increased to 5,300 in 2020 from an annual average of 425 from 2016 to 2019. That equates to a large spike in the rate per 10,000 FTEs, to 7.7 from 0.6 – a 1,183% increase.

Looking at COVID-19 vaccination rates by major occupational category in May, construction and extraction workers (52.4%) trailed all others and lagged far behind the percentage for all industries, which was 81.7. Those workers’ top reasons for not getting vaccinated, according to a Delphi Group survey that allowed respondents to choose more than one, were:

  • Distrust of COVID-19 vaccines (61.4%)
  • Distrust of the government (59.2%)
  • Don’t need a vaccine (58.7%)
  • Worried about side effects (55.8%)

“Construction work was deemed essential early in the pandemic,” the report states. “One of the most important steps to keeping construction workers safe on the worksite is the COVID-19 vaccine. The dramatic increases in nonfatal respiratory illnesses among construction workers highlight the pandemic’s impact on construction worker safety and health and the need for vaccinations.”

CPWR highlights its COVID-19 Construction Clearinghouse among its resources “on the science and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.”


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.