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OSHA announced recently it is instituting a new system for planning and measuring its inspections, with more weight given to those that require more time and resources. According to an Oct. 1 blog post by Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, this new Enforcement Weighting System will value routine inspections as one Enforcement Unit, while more complex categories are valued at up to eight Enforcement Units. "For example, process safety management inspections are valued at seven units, workplace violence inspections are three units, and inspections involving a chemical for which there is no permissible exposure limit are also three units. The values were set based on historical data," Michaels wrote, adding, "I want to be clear that OSHA has never set quotas for inspections and that will not change."

According to Michaels, OSHA personnel conducted 36,163 inspections and state plan states conducted another 47,217 inspections in FY2014. "Each one of those inspections was important, and potentially lifesaving. But the reality is that some required far more time and resources than others. For example, the inspection of an oil refinery or a chemical manufacturing facility is more complex and time-consuming than one of a trenching site. Those complex inspections make a big difference – showing employers, and the whole country, that we are determined to investigate serious hazards regardless of how complex or challenging those inspections may be," he wrote. "We are introducing this system to improve our strategic planning process and ensure that sufficient enforcement resources are allocated to cases that require more.

For two years, we piloted the weighted approach, running it side-by-side with our traditional inspection counting system. And we found that tracking inspections by complexity ensures that we don’t shortchange the more difficult inspections in favor of those that can be done quickly. We will continue to monitor this new approach and make adjustments as needed."

In conclusion, Michaels wrote that "I have long believed that we should not merely focus on the number of inspections that we conduct but also take into account their impact on improving health and safety. Our inspections send a message, and as a result employers abate hazards not just at the establishment we inspect but at other workplaces. This change will allow us to better focus our resources on more meaningful inspections – the ones that have the greatest impact."

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA’s annual preliminary list of top 10 most-cited safety violations – what National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman has called “a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence” – saw little change this year compared to last year’s.

The list was released Sept. 29 at the National Safety Council‘s 2015 Congress & Expo by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

And here it is (the applicable OSHA standard appears in parentheses):
1. Fall Protection in Construction (1926.501) – 6,721
2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192
3. Scaffolding in Construction (1926.451) – 4,295
4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305
5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002
6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,760
7. Ladders in Construction (1926.1053) – 2,489
8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,404
9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,295
10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 1,973

The figures are for FY 2015, which ran from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 8, 2015. The figures were to be updated after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2015.

In terms of ranking, only the categories of Electrical Wiring Methods and Ladders exchanged places in FY 2015.
The No. 2 violation continues to be a strong second, however. While the number of hazard communication violations issued by OSHA did not see a large increase from FY 2014 to FY 2015, its ranking on the list should still serve employers as an indicator of the importance of ensuring chemical hazard training is up to date with the agency’s adoption into its existing chemical standard.

Under GHS, chemical labels contain a signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category.

There are nine standardized pictograms that must be surrounded by a red border. Precautionary statements may also be included.

SDSs now have a 16-section format, with sections that include identification of the chemical, first-aid steps for exposure and disposal considerations.

As of June 1, 2015, all new chemical labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) are required to conform to GHS. However, it is possible that some of the old-style labels and SDSs will persist for some time. Under the new system, distributors may still ship products with the previous set of labels until Dec. 1, 2015.

At Workplace Safety, we stand ready to help businesses build safety into their work practices with training programs in areas including HAZMAT/HAZWOPER, lockout/tagout, confined space entry and rescue, first aid/CPR (to including AED and Bloodborne Pathogens), asbestos operations and maintenance, excavation safety and fall protection.

Tagged in: OSHA

OSHA has issued policies and procedures for applying a new process for resolving whistleblower dispute according to an announcement on its website. The process is part of an early resolution process that is part of a regional Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.

The program gives whistleblower parties the change to negotiate a settlement with the assistance of a neutral, confidential OSHA rep with expertise in whistleblower investigations. The ADR Act requires that each federal agency "adopt a policy that addresses the use of alternative means of dispute resolution and case management."

"OSHA receives several thousand whistleblower complaints for investigation each year," Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in a statement. "The Alternative Dispute Resolution process can be a valuable alternative to the expensive and time consuming process of an investigation and litigation. It will provide whistleblower complainants and respondents the option of exploring voluntary resolution of their disputes outside of the traditional investigative process."

Read entire - https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=28596

Tagged in: OSHA whistlerblower

The final deadline by which OSHA expects U.S. employers to fully comply with its 2012 final rule revising the Hazard Communication Standard is less than eight months away – and the clock is ticking.

By June 1, 2016, employers should have their workplace labeling procedures in place and their employees trained on what the agency has termed the "right to understand" standard, differentiating it from the previous "right to know" regulation.

A May 2015 memorandum to OSHA regional administrators from the Director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Thomas Galassi, was issued three days before the most recent deadline, June 1, 2015 for manufacturers to be producing safety data sheets and labels in format that complies with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). In that document, Galassi indicated many chemical suppliers would likely miss that June 1 deadline, referring to a memorandum in February that said OSHA inspectors should take into account good-faith efforts by chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors trying to comply with the revised standard but having not received classification and safety data sheet information from suppliers upstream.

"Since issuing the guidance on February 9, 2015, OSHA has received an overwhelming number of additional questions and requests for further clarification on behalf of manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Many of the questions relate to the use of HCS 1994-compliant labels on containers packaged for shipment (i.e., existing stock)," the memo stated.

According to the revised standard, manufacturers and importers must classify the hazards of chemicals they produce or import, and distributors must transmit the required information to employers. Employers, in turn, must provide information to their employees about any hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed, using a hazard communication program, labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and information and training.

The revised standard allows distributors to continue shipping chemicals with labels that meet the old standard, though only until Dec. 1 of this year.

According to the final rule, employers are to ensure that each container of a hazardous chemical is labeled with a product identifier, signal word, hazard statement(s), pictogram(s) and precautionary statement(s). However, that does not apply to portable containers into which hazardous chemicals are being transferred from labeled containers and that are intended only for immediate use by the employee conducting the transfer.

In addition, the final rule states that employers "may use signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other such written materials in lieu of affixing labels to individual stationary process containers, as long as the alternative method identifies the containers to which it is applicable and conveys the information required . . . to be on a label."

Fortunately, OSHA has provided a great deal of information about the new standard on its website (https://www.osha.gov/dep/enforcement/hcs_guide_052015.html); examples include a "Steps to an Effective Hazard Communication Program for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals" fact sheet, a side-by-side comparison of the previous and new standards and the memos issued by Galassi.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently extended the transition period for the respirator certification standard by means of a new final rule. The standards initially established in the 2012 final rule were originally designed to take effect over a three-year transition period, during which manufacturers were allowed to continue to manufacture, label, and sell respirators certified to the prior standards. The new rule allows NIOSH to extend the concluding date until one year after the agency approves a Closed-Circuit Escape Respirator (CCER) model.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/NIOSH-Extends-Transition-Period-for-Respirator-Certification-Standard.aspx

Tagged in: NIOSH

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