Brooklyn Medical Facility Cited by OSHA for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards

Employees of a Brooklyn medical facility were allegedly exposed to head, eye, face and groin injuries and intimidation and threats during routine interactions with patients and visitors. An inspection by OSHA reportedly found approximately 40 incidents of workplace violence between February 7 and April 12, 2014. These incidents involved employees who were threatened or physically and verbally assaulted by patients and visitors, or when breaking up altercations between patients. The most serious incident was an assault of a nurse, who sustained severe brain injuries when she was attacked while working. As a result of its alleged failure to adequately protect its employees against workplace violence, the medical center faces $78,000 in fines. “The hazard of violence against employees is well-recognized in the health care industry and known to this employer,” said Robert ...
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President Obama Signs Executive Order Requiring Prospective Federal Contractors to Disclose Labor Violations

President Obama recently signed an Executive Order mandating that companies seeking federal contracts must disclose all labor law violations from the previous three years in order to be eligible for such contracts. The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order will govern new federal procurement contracts valued at more than $500,000 and provide information on companies’ compliance with federal labor laws for agencies. The Executive Order is expected to be implemented on new contracts in stages, on a prioritized basis, during 2016. The goal of the process created by the Executive Order is to help contractors come into compliance with workplace protections, not to deny contracts to contractors. Companies with labor law violations will be offered the opportunity to receive early guidance on whether those violations are potentially problematic and remedy any problems. Contracting ...
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OSHA Communicates New Instruction for Communication Tower Personnel Hoists

In 2013, the communications industry was confronted by an increasing number of fatalities involving worker falls from cell tower sites. Alarmingly, OSHA recorded fourteen fatalities, all of which were determined preventable — either a result of an employer’s failure to provide fall protection or an employee’s failure to use the equipment. In the wake of this statistic, on July 17, 2014, OSHA implemented a new directive governing all work activities on communication towers that involve the use of a hoist to lift personnel to or from their workstations. This new directive, CPL 02-01-056, entitled “Inspection Procedures for Accessing Communication Towers by Hoist,” cancels the former CPL 02-01-36 instruction, which pertained only to new communication tower erection, as opposed to including work on pre-existing towers. The new instruction dictates that, where an employer fails ...
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OSHA Helps Workers and Employers Beat the Heat with Smart Phone App and Other Resources

Every year, dozens of workers are killed by heat, and thousands more experience heat-related illnesses. With summer heat on the rise across the nation, workers and employers are turning to OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool for help staying safe in the heat. The App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. In addition, it provides reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect against heat-related illnesses. In all, more than 148,000 users have downloaded this life-saving app since its launch. In a July 7 article in The Washington Post, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels explained employers’ obligation to protect construction crews, road workers, ...
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OSHA Announces Interactive Training Webtool to Assist Small Businesses Identify Workplace Hazards

On June 22, 2014, OSHA announced a new interactive training tool to help small businesses effectively identify hazards in the workplace. According to the announcement, employers and workers can “virtually” explore how to identify common workplace hazards in the manufacturing and construction industries. Users of the new training tool will learn not only hazard identification skills but also about hazard abatement and control. Through the hazard identification tool, users reportedly learn to identify realistic, common hazards from the perspective of either a business owner or an employee, and how to address them with practical and effective solutions. The tool explains the key components of the hazard identification process, which includes information collection, observation of the workplace, investigation of incidents, employee participation and prioritizing hazards. OSHA developed the hazard identification training tool with its ...
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$7 Million in Grant Money Available for Safety Training from OSHA

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is soliciting applications from nonprofit organizations, including employer associations, labor unions, and joint labor/management associations, under a program called the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program. The $7 million in grant money will fund training and education for workers and employers to identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards. Two types of safety and health training grants will be awarded: Targeted Topic Training and Capacity Building; approximately $3.5 million will be available in each grant fund. Targeted Topic Training grants support the development of quality training materials and programs for addressing workplace hazards and prevention strategies. The Targeted Topic Training grants require applicants to address occupational and safety health topics designated by OSHA. Capacity Building grants focus on developing and ...
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OSHA’S Fall Prevention Campaign Includes a National-Stand Down for Fall Safety

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. In 2012, 279 construction workers lost their lives in falls from heights and more than 8,800 construction workers were seriously injured by falls. From June 2 through June 6, 2014 employers and workers are voluntarily stopping work to talk about saving lives and preventing fatal falls. More than 1 million workers and tens of thousands of businesses across the country are expected to participate in this national stand-down for fall safety. This national stand-down is all part of OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign. According to OSHA, falls can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps: Planning ahead to get the job done safely; Providing the right equipment, such as personal fall arrest systems; and Training all workers to use ...
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OSHA to Refer Time-Barred Whistleblower Claims to the NLRB

On May 21st, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that OSHA will begin referring time-barred whistleblower claims (brought pursuant to Section 11(c) of the OSH Act) to the NLRB, which has a longer limitations period, for investigation and potential prosecution. In order to facilitate this collaborative program, OSHA agents have been provided with talking points briefly describing the NLRB and providing other information to use when referring untimely Section 11(c) complainants. The statute of limitations for a whistleblower claim brought pursuant to Section 11(c) is only 30 days, whereas the limitations period for a similar claim filed with the NLRB is 6 months. OSHA estimates that approximately 300 untimely whistleblower claims are screened out each year for missing the 30-day filing deadline. Many of these claims, however, although late under the OSH Act, are timely under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).   OSHA’s Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels further pointed out in recent Congressional testimony that Section ...
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This Week’s Top OSHA Related News

OSHA announces the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers, aiming to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather. OSHA signs alliance with the American Staffing Association to work together to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards. OSHA renews alliance with Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust (EJATT) to further commit itself to protecting electrical workers against arc blast, arc flash, and other hazards that occur when installing electrical systems. OSHA solicits applications under the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program through two separate and distinct announcements, with a total of $7 million available for nonprofit organizations. Railroad found in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act ordered to pay more than $526,000 to terminated workers.
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23 Citations to Florida Manufacturer Underscore the Importance of Compliance with Respiratory and Toxic and Hazardous Substances Standards

OSHA recently cited a Florida manufacturer for 23 safety and health violations with proposed penalties totaling $106,000 for exposing workers to dangerous welding fumes and other hazards. Of the 23 alleged violations, 19 were classified as “serious violations,” that is, a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. The inspection — conducted as part of OSHA’s national emphasis program on amputations — resulted in violations in two main categories: respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134) and toxic and hazardous substances – hexavalent chromium (29 CFR 1910.1026).  OSHA’s respiratory protection standard is the fourth most frequently cited standard and, in this instance, the alleged violations included the following: (1) the selection of the respirators was not based on the hazards to which the workers were exposed; (2) employees using tight-fitting facepiece respirators were not fit tested prior to ...
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