Posts Tagged ‘standards’

A Year of Injuries, and Lessons


This article was posted on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog

Filed in Español, Safety By Dr. David Michaels on March 17, 2016

In January 2015, we started requiring employers to report any work-related severe injury – such as an amputation or an injury requiring hospitalization – within 24 hours. In the first year, we received 10,388 reports, or nearly 30 a day.

Each report told the story of a man or woman who went to work one day and experienced a traumatic event, sometimes with permanent consequences to themselves and their families. But the reports also created opportunities for OSHA to engage with employers in ways we had never done before, and to ensure that changes were made to prevent similar incidents from happening to others.


We learned things that surprised us, encouraged us and sometimes disappointed us. Today, we published a report of our evaluation that features stories from our offices around the country and reflects on lessons learned in the first year.

Our two main goals for the new reporting requirement were to engage more employers in identifying and eliminating serious hazards themselves, and to allow us to better target our enforcement and compliance assistance efforts to places where workers are most at risk. After reviewing the field reports and associated data, we are confident that both goals are being met.

A few examples explain how:

  • In Chicago, a conveyor loaded with liquid chocolate suddenly started up as a worker was cleaning a roller. Her arm was pulled in and mangled so badly that she required a plate and skin grafting. To prevent future injuries, the employer installed metal guards to shield workers’ arms and hands from moving machinery as well as warning alarms and flashing lights that are activated 20 seconds before the conveyor moves.
  • In Idaho, a valve cover (long known to be problematic) snapped shut on the hand of a truck driver who was loading a tanker, severing his fingertip. After the amputation, the employer devised a new hands-free tool for closing the valve, and alerted the manufacturer and other employers likely to use the same equipment.
  • At a sawmill, a chipper operator’s arm was amputated after he tried to clear a conveyor jam. In response, the owner suspended operations for a week and made improvements that went far beyond what OSHA required, including installing electrical shut-offs within easy reach of all workers, placing catwalks around the entire mill, and providing handheld radios for all employees.

In these cases and many more, employers worked closely with OSHA specialists to protect the safety and health of their workers. In fact, we responded to more than half of all injury reports  not by sending inspectors to the scene but by asking employers to conduct their own incident investigations and propose remedies to prevent future injuries.

At other times, the reported hazards warranted a worksite inspection, and we were able to investigate the incident and determine whether hazards remained.

But we were also disappointed by a handful of employers who went to great lengths to conceal injuries or hazards. In one stunning example, a manufacturer tried to hide an entire production line from OSHA inspectors after a staffing agency reported the amputation of a worker’s finger. Inspectors who uncovered the back room found a row of machinery with exposed parts that could have caused other workers to lose their fingers.

While we have made progress toward ensuring that severe injuries are quickly reported, we believe a sizable proportion of these types of injuries are still not being reported. That’s why we’re developing outreach strategies, including working through insurers, first responders, and business organizations to ensure that all employers know of their obligations to report severe injuries. Those who choose not to report should know that, now that the requirement is in its second year, OSHA is more likely to cite for non-reporting, and we have increased the maximum penalty for not reporting a severe injury from $2,000 to $7,000.

We will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness. To help protect the safety and health of the nation’s workers, it is essential that employers report all severe injuries, either by phone or online. Learn more at

Dr. David Michaels is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Behr Iron & Steel Inc. Pleads Guilty to OSHA Violation Causing Death of Employee

A Rockford-based company pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnston to willfully violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, resulting in the death of an employee at the company’s facility in South Beloit, Ill.

BEHR IRON & STEEL INC., a high volume ferrous and nonferrous scrap processor, admitted in a plea agreement that on March 10, 2014, the company failed to provide lockout/tagout protection and confined space protection as required under OSHA regulations for the company’s employees who were cleaning a shredder discharge pit.  The company admitted that those violations caused the death of an employee who got caught in a moving, unguarded conveyor belt.

The Company faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ probation, a maximum fine of $500,000, and restitution to the victim employee in an amount determined by the Court.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Ken Nishiyama Atha, Regional Administrator of OSHA in Chicago.

“Justice cannot restore life to the victim whose body was crushed because Behr Iron and Steel failed to provide protection from dangerous machinery on the job,” said Mr. Atha.  “Safety training at the plant was woefully insufficient.  Behr must be held responsible by the courts for ignoring safety standards and failing in its obligation to protect its workers on the job.”

Behr’s South Beloit facility recycles metals contained in such things as automobiles and refrigerators.  According to the plea agreement, OSHA regulations require employers to adopt safety procedures to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and unable to start up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work.  The safety procedures include placing a lock on the power source of the machine and a tag on the lock warning that the machine cannot be operated until the warning is removed, and identifying the employee who has the key to the lock.  OSHA also promulgated regulations that address the need to protect employees from entering a confined space without safety precautions.

Metals shredded through a shredding machine in Behr’s South Beloit facility fall onto a conveyor belt located about ten feet underground in a shredder discharge pit, which was approximately six feet long and six feet wide.  The shredded materials were then moved by a conveyor belt out of the discharge pit and through a sorting process.  Some of the shredded metals fall onto the ground of the discharge pit near the conveyor belt.  One or two Behr employees working on the shredding machine were required to clean the discharge pit on a daily basis.  The employees shoveled shredded materials from the floor of the discharge pit onto the running conveyor belt.

On March 10, 2014, a Behr employee was cleaning the discharge pit when the employee’s arm was caught by the unguarded conveyor belt.  The employee was pulled into the machinery and killed.

Behr admitted that there was no lock or operable emergency shut off switch in the discharge pit for the conveyor belt, and the conveyor belt did not have guards designed to protect employees.  Behr also admitted that employees in the discharge pit were not adequately trained to use the shredder or the conveyor belt, and that the company had not developed and implemented confined space protection for employees entering the discharge pit.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini.

Connecticut steel foundry fined more than $100K

Connecticut steel foundry fined more than $100K for exposing workers to multiple hazards and failing to provide protective equipment

Employees at Connecticut steel foundry exposed to electrical, chemical,
mechanical and fire hazards and lack of protective equipment
$104K in OSHA penalties proposed for PCC Structural-Groton

HARTFORD, Conn. – Employees at PCC Structurals-Groton faced the risk of chemical burns, fire, lacerations, amputations, electric shock and other injuries, inspections by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration have found.

“Our inspections identified a disturbing cross-section of hazards that could result in eye, face or body injuries, burns, or hearing loss for employees at the Groton location, as well as potential fires or explosions. It’s imperative for the health and well-being of its employees that PCC Structurals takes comprehensive, effective and ongoing corrective action to eliminate these hazards,” said Warren Simpson, OSHA’s area director in Hartford.

Located at 839 Poquonnock Road, the Groton facility is a steel-investment casting foundry that casts components for aerospace, energy, and commercial applications. Among the hazards identified during OSHA’s inspections:

  • Lack of hand, face and body protection for employees working on or near electrical equipment.
  • Exposed live electrical parts; misused electrical equipment and power cords; inadequate working space around electrical panelboards; and an ungrounded extension cord.
  • Unguarded points of operation of hydraulic presses.
  • Failure to inspect energy control procedures periodically to prevent the unintended startup of machinery during maintenance and cleaning.
  • No program to inspect chain alloy slings used to lift materials and equipment.
  • Lack of emergency eyewashes where employees worked with corrosive chemicals.
  • Inadequate safety glasses for employees working with chemicals.
  • Inadequately labeled containers of hazardous chemicals.
  • Flammable liquids not stored in closed containers; improper disposal of combustible waste.
  • Unsecured compressed gas cylinders.
  • Incompatible chemicals stored together in a cabinet.
  • Employees exposed to high noise levels not provided with a choice of hearing protection.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited the company for 20 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards on Feb. 19, 2016, with proposed penalties of $90,000. OSHA earlier cited the facility on Jan. 5 for two serious violations concerning inadequate fall protection equipment and an unprotected table saw. Fines of $14,000 were proposed for those violations.

The citations can be viewed here*, here* and here*.

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


The “Interpretation” Situation

I was asked a good question recently and have been asked similar questions like this before.

“You wrote my crane up as deficient because I didn’t have Electrocution Warning decals on all four sides of the crane. I looked at the standards and they don’t state that there needs to be Electrocution Warning decals on all four sides of the crane”

He’s right, it doesn’t say that specifically.  This item is representative of a number of articles in the crane standards that need to be interpreted for the best possible inspection.

Using this example, imagine if there was an accident involving a ground worker and electrocution. Let’s say that the ground worker touched the crane on the very side that had no electrocution warning and got injured as a result of the crane crossing electrical wires.

From where I sit, nothing is far-fetched. When you think of it, every accident wasn’t expected. That makes the art of safety a test to prevent everything that is unexpected.

OSHA provides crane safety standards that are the MINIMUM safety standards. Likewise, in the event of an injury, OSHA is the least of your troubles. Let’s get back to our injured ground worker…

The ground worker is hurt. OSHA levies a citation and fine at the hearing. The citation doesn’t involve the missing decal at all. In fact, maybe the OSHA inspector interpreted this standard differently or maybe he missed it during his investigation. (I wouldn’t ever expect OSHA to miss anything) So now what?

d1005 cupco electrocution warning decal 2         d1003 cupco electrocution warning decal 3

Need decals? We keep these in stock! Visit our shop @ 57 Mendon St. Bellingham, MA

                                               Need decals? We keep these in stock!                                                       Visit our shop 57 Mendon St. Bellingham, MA

I’ll tell you from experience. The ground workers lawyer does his investigation. He notices that there is no conspicuous warning label regarding the possibility of electrocution and he questions the crane safety standards. His interpretation is very specific.

His client (the injured ground worker) should have been able to approach this crane from any angle and be aware of the imminent electrocution potential. The ensuing lawsuit makes OSHA’s fine seem….. Minimal.

This is only one of many interpretation issues that I address during an inspection. My goal is to keep my customers and their workers safe and to prevent any scenarios like this from happening. Many items on my inspections are perpetuated from incidents that I’ve been involved in and outcomes of litigations that I’ve been involved in.

Be Safe, Be Healthy, Be Happy

- Jay Sturm

House pressures OSHA to address crane operator certification concerns

House pressures OSHA to address crane operator certification concerns

On Feb. 11, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce wrote to David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, noting its concerns about delays in the implementation process concerning the revised safety standard for cranes and derricks in construction. The letter urged him “to consider the recommendations of all stakeholders, including members of the Coalition for Crane Operator Safety (CCOS). SC&RA is a charter member of CCOS, which also consists of Associated Equipment Distributors; Association of Equipment Manufacturers Associated General Contractors of America; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union; International Union of Operating Engineers; NationsBuilders Insurance Services, Inc.; National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators; National Center for Construction Education and Research; and Operating Engineers Certification Program.

The letter referred to the new safety standard that was finalized on Aug. 9, 2010, which included revised requirements for crane operator certification based on type and capacity. Because the 17 states and six cities with mandatory crane certification do not use capacity as the criteria, CCOS suggests that without clarification, as many as 100,000 certified crane operators might not be qualified under the current regulatory language, noted the House Committee. The letter further pointed out that OSHA extended the implementation deadline for Crane Operator Certification from Nov. 10, 2014 to Nov. 10, 2017 in an apparent effort to fix a flaw related to how a crane operator is “deemed qualified.”

“It is unclear if OSHA has aligned enforcement guidance within the three year delay,” wrote Minn. Rep. John Kline (R), Chair of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Mich. Rep. Tim Walberg (R), Chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. “Further, the delay may result in fewer individuals enrolling in training courses, which is clearly not the desired result of the 2010 standard.”

They urged OSHA to work with stakeholders to resolve the discrepancies and “to ensure enforcement guidance is consistent with the implemented delay” until the agency is able to fix the outstanding certification issues.

Click here to read the letter.