Tag Archive for 'OSHA'

New Silica Proposal Relies on Flawed Economics, ARTBA Tells OSHA

ARTBA NewsA proposed Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulation concerning exposure to crystalline silica is based on decades old data and flawed economics, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says.

At issue is OSHA’s plan to regulate the worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica.  Crystalline silica is found in nearly all transportation construction materials and products and can even be found naturally in the ambient air.

In comments submitted to OSHA February 11, the association contends the agency is attempting to set crystalline silica exposure limits at levels which are unworkably low.  Specifically, ARTBA pointed to studies OSHA relied upon in formulating the new rule which date back to the 1930s, and do not take into account both technological and modern safety advancements that have dramatically reduced the negative health effects from crystalline silica exposure.

ARTBA noted OSHA might be doing more harm than good with its proposal, citing portions of the rule that could require workers to wear respiratory devices.   “When coupling the necessity of strenuously working in high heat, amongst heat generating materials while wearing a respirator, OSHA is creating a significant, real danger to human health that far exceeds the potential hazard from silica exposure,” ARTBA said.

The association’s comments also took aim at the basis of OSHA’s economic analysis, noting the agency’s source information is difficult to verify and “the true per company cost of meeting the proposed standards” was unknown.  “By averaging the cost of compliance across all workers, this could potentially understate the costs of compliance for businesses that could not meet the new standard,” according to ARTBA.

The full text of  the comments can be found in the “regulatory affairs” section of www.artba.org.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the transportation construction’s primary advocate on environmental and regulatory matters in the Nation’s Capital.  ARTBA files an average of 25 sets of regulatory comments per year representing the views of the transportation construction industry on a variety of issues.

OSHA Combustible Dust Standard on the Horizon – What Every Industry Should Know

This article appeared in the November issue of Dixie Contractor

By Nicole F. Soto

Combustible dust, it is not the most glamorous of topics but it is an important one. Why is it important? It is important because between 1980 and 2005, combustible dust incidents claimed the lives of 119 workers and injured another 718.

There is a common misconception that combustible dust hazards primarily affect the grain handling industry. That is simply untrue. Combustible dust hazards exist in many industries and manufacturing processes including: food (e.g., candy, starch, flour, feed), plastics, wood, rubber, furniture, textiles, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dyes, coal, metal (e.g., aluminum, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc), and fossil fuel power generation. The handling and processing of these materials can generate very small particles.  These small particles are so light that they easily become airborne.  Once airborne, the particles settle on surfaces, inside crevices, and even inside the ventilation system.  It takes a little more than 1/32 of an inch of accumulation over five percent of a room’s surface area to create a combustible dust explosion hazard.  If disturbed, the accumulation can create a potentially explosive dust cloud.

The elements of a combustible dust explosion are fairly straight forward.  You start with the traditional fire triangle of fuel, heat, and oxygen. The combustible dust acts as the fuel source. Heat generated from equipment can provide the ignition source. And the oxygen comes from the air around us.  Now if you take the fire triangle and you add to it a dust cloud in a confined space, you have a recipe for a potentially catastrophic combustible dust explosion.  More information concerning facility dust hazard assessment, dust control, ignition control, damage control, and training can be found on the OSHA website in its Safety and Health Information Bulletin on Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions.

Currently, OSHA does not have a comprehensive standard that addresses combustible dust hazard. However, that is about to change. OSHA has initiated rulemaking to create a comprehensive standard to control the risk of combustible dust explosions industry wide.  Beginning this month, OSHA will begin its small business review of a combustible dust standard.  The purpose of the small business review is to estimate the proposed rule’s economic impact on small businesses.

The small business review panel will evaluate comments from small business representatives, review the proposed rule, and review the analysis prepared by OSHA.  Thereafter, the proposed rule will be published along with the panel’s report in the Federal Register.  Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, it will be open for comments from the general public.  Any comments submitted must be considered by OSHA.  In this regard, if you believe that your small business may be adversely impacted by the proposed regulation, it is important that you file a comment with the Small Business Administration Ombudsman.  For more information on commenting on enforcement action, please visit the OSHA website on the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).

Although beyond the scope of this article, it is important to note that despite the lack of a specific OSHA combustible dust hazard, OSHA may nevertheless cite employers for combustible dust hazards under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. In fact, OSHA has issued citations for combustible dust hazards in over 200 inspections since 1980. Unfortunately, enforcement under the General Duty Clause is reactive in that the citations are issued in response to an accident. Conversely, the impending proposed combustible dust standard will be aimed at prevention. A similar preventative standard established for the grain handling industry has significantly reduced the occurrence of explosions within the grain industry and has significantly mitigated their effects.

This article relied heavily on the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (“CSB”) Investigation Report, Report No. 2006-H-1, Combustible Dust Hazard Study. The Combustible Dust Hazard Study contains a wealth of information on dust explosions basics, the CSB investigations of dust explosions, combustible dust incident data, and hazard communication and prevention.  The Combustible Dust Hazard Study also contains information on the National Fire Protection Association’s two principal voluntary consensus standards to prevent and control dust explosion risks, which are NFPA 654 (Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids–2006) and NFPA 484 (Standard for Combustible Metals–2006).

 

Nicole Soto is an attorney in the Tampa office of Burr & Forman LLP.

Re-Grip Helps Facilitate OSHA Recommendation And Its Ergonomics Assist With Prevention Of MSDs

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends applying grips on all pneumatic tools for safety “Publication 3080 Hand and Power Tools – Use of heavy jackhammers and other pneumatic tools can cause fatigue and strains. Heavy rubber grips reduce these effects by providing a secure handhold”.  OSHA also states under Construction Safety Orders Article 3 Section 1520 “Hand protection shall be required for employees whose work involves unusual and excessive exposure to physical agents which are encountered and capable of causing injury or impairments”. Subchapter 7 – General Industry Safety orders Article 6 Ergonomics states “Every employer subject to this section shall establish and implement a program designed to minimize RMIs (Repetitive Motion Injuries)”.

Ergonomics has become such an important part of occupational health that the US Department of Labor and OSHA have adopted and drafted an ergonomic standard for general industry.  Even the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) got into the mix issuing the “Simple Solutions Ergonomics for Construction Workers” in 2006 (DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2007-122).

“Ergonomics” is a general term that has different meanings to different audiences. Most often, this term is applied to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The U. S. Department of Labor defines an MSD as an injury or disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. MSDs do not include disorders caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, or similar accidents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes detailed characteristics for MSD cases that resulted in at least one lost day from work.  MSDs accounted for 29 percent of all workplace injuries requiring time away from work in 2007.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Effective and successful “fits” assure high productivity, avoidance of illness and injury risks, and increased satisfaction among the workforce. Although the scope of ergonomics is much broader, the term here refers to assessing those work-related factors that may pose a risk of musculoskeletal disorders and recommendations to alleviate them. Common examples of ergonomic risk factors are found in jobs requiring repetitive, forceful, or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent or heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying of heavy objects; and prolonged awkward postures. Vibration and cold may add risk to these work conditions.

These US Department of Labor guidelines provide recommendations to help reduce the number and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, increase employer and employee awareness of ergonomic risk factors, eliminate unsafe work practices, alleviate muscle fatigue, and increase productivity.

Re-Grip, Inc. of Lake Elsinore, California has created a solution to minimize safety risk and down time while adhering to OSHA recommendations.  Re-Grip is a universal solution to applying a new handle grip. Significantly improving the few options on the market, Re-Grip uses strong, durable elastic material to provide mechanical and environmental protection while enhancing comfort for the user. It is ergonomic and reduces muscle fatigue while having non-slip properties for better control and safety.

Replacement grips are usually specific to a particular tool or application and difficult to install. This product can fit any handle that is cylindrical or semi-cylindrical. Its applications include tools like hammers and sledges, lawn and garden items like shovels and wheelbarrows, jackhammers and other pneumatic tools, industrial applications like levers and wrenches, everyday household items like brooms and brushes, and so much more. “Its versatility is what makes it so great” says John Vernieu, Co-Founder of Re-Grip, Inc.

With its special patent pending design, Re-Grip is easy for anyone to install. The elastic grip is held extended by an inner coil, forming a tube that fits over the handle. The user simply pulls a tab at the bottom to unwind the coil, allowing the elastic grip to constrict around the handle. The entire process takes seconds. “Having Re-Grips handy on our trucks has been great.  Every time we need a replacement grip on a construction site, we simply grab a Re-Grip and in seconds we are back up and running.  It minimizes downtime while maintaining our safety requirements, which are both critical to any business.” says Jamie Bahr, owner of Inland Valley Pipe Line.

Re-Grip is available in three sizes – with clearance of 1.3”, 1.6” and 2.1” – for application with most types of handles. Length is seven inches but custom lengths are available. Product information is also available at Re-Grip.com.

Go to the web site http://www.re-grip.com and view the install videos it all comes clear.

NCCCO to Issue Separate Certification Cards-Certified Crane Operators to Get Separate Rigger and/or Signalperson Cards

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) has announced that it will issue separate CCO certification cards to CCO-certified crane operators who have also been certified in the CCO Rigger and/or Signalperson categories. Previously, all certifications were listed on one card.

The new cards will also reflect the full five-year certification period for each category. Previously, all certifications had a common expiration date, regardless of when the candidates passed the test(s).

Riggers and signalpersons who are not certified in crane operation have always been issued their own separate cards, and this policy is unchanged.

The new policy is effective July 2. However, previously CCO-certified crane operators who hold rigger or signalperson certifications will also be issued new Rigger and Signalperson certification cards at no charge. Mailing of the new cards to existing certif will be completed by mid-summer.

“This major policy change will make it much easier for employers as well as state and federal authorities such as OSHA to determine the qualifications of those working onsite,” said NCCCO Commission Chairman, Kerry Hulse. “And it will ensure that

NCCCO Certified Crane Operator

certificants receive a full five-year certification period for each of the certification categories that they have earned.”

CCO certification cards are nationally accepted as official proof of certification, and the new cards have been designed to meet all federal OSHA and state requirements, including the need to have details about the certifications (such as the types of signals in which a signalperson is certified) readily available on the job site. The new cards have been color coded for each certification category. Operator CCO cards continue to have a black band across the bottom, while Rigger and Signalperson cards feature a green band for easy recognition.

The new policy of separate expiration dates does not affect the crane operator certification program, however. “All crane operator certifications will continue to have the same expiration date regardless of when new crane operator designations are added,” said Joel Oliva, NCCCO Program Manager, Test Development.

NCCCO Certified Rigger/Signal Person

NCCCO currently has nine crane operator designations, three crane inspector designations, two rigger designations, and a signalperson designation. New certifications for digger derrick operators and lift directors are currently in development for launch before the end of 2012.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is an independent, non-profit organization established in 1995 by industry to develop and administer a nationwide program for the certification of crane operators and related personnel. Since then, NCCCO has administered over 625,000 nationally accredited written and practical examinations to more than 170,000 operators in all 50 states.

 

CSDA and OSHA Team up to Cage Road Rage

Through its Alliance partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Concrete Sawing & Drilling Association (CSDA) has released a Best Practice on two very hot topics—aggressive driving and road rage.

Representatives from the CSDA Safety Committee have worked with OSHA to produce CSDA-OBP-1009 Aggressive Driving and Road Rage, the tenth document to be released by the Alliance since its formation in 2006. It is hoped that the release of this document will help professionals in the concrete sawing and drilling industry avoid confrontations as they travel to and from the jobsite, or during their commute to and from their homes.

“Many CSDA contractors travel around the country in work trucks, and sometimes they and other road users do not understand the extra time needed to maneuver such large vehicles or the distance required to bring these vehicles safely to a stop,” says Kellie Vazquez, chairperson of the CSDA Safety Committee and Board member. “By not understanding these factors, drivers can quickly become aggressive toward each other. In extreme cases, something as simple as not using a turn signal can result in an act of road rage. That is why we felt it was important to educate the industry about how to steer clear of these situations.”

According to the American Automobile Association, aggressive driving behaviors are a factor in up to 56% of fatal crashes. When this percentage is applied to the average number of fatal road accidents across the U.S. each year—around 38,000 based on data compiled by the NHTSA—it is clear that everyone should be doing what they can to eradicate aggressive driving and road rage from the nation’s roadways.

CSDA-OBP-1009 details some of the factors that can lead to aggressive driving and road rage, then goes on to explain some of the ways employers and employees can reduce instances of either occurring during their time on the road. This is the third road-related Best Practice released by the OSHA/CSDA Alliance, having previously released CSDA-OBP-1001 Highway Workzone Safety and CSDA-OBP-1007 Distracted Driving. All three documents are available to view or download via the OSHA Alliance page of the CSDA Website in English and Spanish.

For more information, or to download a copy of CSDA-OBP-1009, Click Here, call the CSDA office at 727-577-5004 or email info@csda.org.