September 3, 2010

In This Update
ASSE Schedules September 13 Meeting With IH Group
Occupational Deaths Drop to Record Low Level
Youth Younger than 18 Prohibited from Operating Fork Trucks
Review Commission Upholds OSHA's Multi-employer Citation Policy
ILO Releases Booklet on Workplace Safety Risks
When Can An Employer Refuse to Pay for PPE?
Quick Links
Chip DawsonThis health, safety and environment electronic update comes from Chip Dawson and the Rochester Business Alliance as a service to member organizations.
ASSE Schedules September 13 Meeting With IH Group
The regular monthly meeting of the Genesee Valley Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers will be held on Monday, Sept. 13, with members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association in attendance. Speaker for the evening is Katie Root, CIH, CSP, MS of Eastman Kodak discussing Potential Exposure to Hexavalent Chromium During Welding and Cutting (nasty work if you recall the movie Erin Brockovich). Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Green lantern in Fairport with dinner at 7:00 and the presentation at 7:30. The public is invited to attend. For reservations, call Paulette Lantuh at (585) 415-5464.
Occupational Deaths Drop to Record Low Level 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' preliminary results from its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (COFI) show a decline in fatalities for 2009 compared with 2008. Last year, 4,340 workers died from work-related injuries, down from a count of 5,214 fatal work injuries in 2008.
 
The 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary total since the COFI program was first conducted in 1992. Based on this preliminary count, the rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2009 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a final rate of 3.7 in 2008. Economic factors played a major role in the fatal work injury decrease in 2009, according to the BLS. Total hours worked fell by six percent in 2009 following a one percent decline in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted for a significant share of fatal work injuries, such as construction, experienced even larger declines in employment or hours worked. 
 
While the Secretary of Labor vows continued enforcement to continue the reduction into 2010, it's sad that the real reducer is a struggling economy. In fact, the best option for reduced deaths is an across the board embrace of safety systems and workplace cultures that prevent high risk activities.
Youth Younger than 18 Prohibited from Operating Fork Trucks 
Even thought the summer employment rush is over, there are still plenty of young people seeking jobs. Sadly, some of them will be given work that is hazardous and prohibited by law. Regulations promulgated pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibit individuals younger than 18 years of age from engaging in specified hazardous occupational activities. One part of 29 CFR 570.58 specifically prohibits employees under 18 years of age from operating forklifts in non-agricultural employment.

Additional orders promulgated pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibit operation of other machines that are hazardous to workers less than 18 years of age. These orders include: driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle;  operation of power-driven wood-working machines; operation of power-driven metal forming, punching, and shearing machines; operation of power-driven meat- processing machines, including meat slicers; operation of bakery machines; operation of paper-products machines; and operation of circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears.

For an OSHA bulletin on the subject, click here.
Review Commission Upholds OSHA's Multi-employer Citation Policy 
 The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission have upheld OSHA's multi-employer citation policy in a reversal of a decision the Commission made during the previous administration. Under the policy, OSHA inspectors may cite employers on multi-employer worksites for violations that do not expose their own workers to occupational hazards. For example, a general contractor who controls the worksite may be responsible for violations created by a subcontractor whose workers are exposed to safety or health hazards. To see the policy, click here.
ILO imageILO Releases Booklet on Workplace Safety Risks   
The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently released a booklet on emerging workplace safety risks and new approaches to protecting workers. The booklet notes that the world of workplace safety isn't static. That is, as some workplace hazards are identified and effectively addressed, new ones emerge. Safety coordinators and other safety professionals must constantly be on the lookout for new hazards. To access the booklet in English, click here and then click on the download button. The booklet is also available in Spanish and French.
When Can An Employer Refuse to Pay for PPE? 
This question and the response come from our friends at Lab Safety Supply. Kelli works on the assembly floor at XYZ Company. She was issued a pair of safety glasses by her employer on January 1 and another pair last week after her first pair broke. Today Kelli realized that she lost her new pair of safety glasses. Her supervisor provided her with another new pair of safety glasses but told her she's going to have to pay for this pair. Is Kelli or the employer responsible for paying for her newest pair of safety glasses?

The Lab Safety Supply technical folks dug into the OSHA files for the answer. They found that OSHA clarified who pays for PPE in a final rule published in the federal register on 11/15/2007. On page 64354, paragraph D, OSHA intends to require employers to pay for initial issue of PPE and for replacement of PPE that must be replaced due to normal wear and tear, accidental breakage, or occasional loss. OSHA does allow the employer to make the employee pay for the PPE if loss of PPE equipment becomes habitual. So because Kelli does not appear to be losing her safety glasses on a regular basis, the employer would be required to pay for the replacement.

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