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Weekly News Round-Up

February 2, 2013
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Weekly News Round-UpChevron gets fined a million but earns a billion; noise hazards found at both hockey arenas and foundries; Solis and LaHood step down and yet another explosion at a rural Texas oil site injures members of the public. Here are the week's top EHS-related stories as featured on ISHN.com:

Cal/OSHA Cites Chevron nearly $1 million for Richmond refinery fire

Highest penalties allowed under state law

The California Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued 25 citations against Chevron USA, with proposed penalties totaling nearly $1 million, for state safety standard violations related to the August 6, 2012 fire at Chevron’s Richmond refinery.

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Noise levels reach 124 dBA at ice hockey games

Occupational and recreational noise exposures were evaluated at two sporting arenas hosting collegiate hockey games (Venue 1) and semi-professional hockey (Venue 2), according to the article, “Occupational and Recreational Noise Exposure from Indoor Arena Hockey Games, published in Volume 10, Issue 1, 2013, in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

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Poor maintenance, mechanic fatigue led to fatal helicopter crash

A 2011 Nevada helicopter crash that killed the pilot and his five sightseeing passengers was caused by poor maintenance, according to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Also contributing to the accident: degraded material, improper installation, and inadequate inspections.

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No “wet” methods, PPE in asbestos removal

OSHA has cited an asbestos remediation company for nine alleged violations of safety and health standards -- including one willful – related to its removal of roofing material containing asbestos. Lorice Enterprises LLC of Albany, N.Y. faces a total $83,300 in proposed fines.

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Foundry fined proposed $56,880 for noise hazards

OSHA has cited COL-Pump Co. Inc., with 10 health and safety violations, including two willful, for failing to monitor workers’ exposure to noise hazards above 85 decibels at the Columbiana foundry in Columbiana, Ohio, a city of about 6,300 residents. Proposed fines total $56,880, according to the Norwalk Reflector.

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More in-flight PED use could be allowed

But you’ll still have to put your seat in an upright position…

Airline passengers could get to use their cell phones and other portable electronic devices (PEDs) more while in flight, depending upon the results of a task force study on the issue. Government and industry experts including representatives from the mobile technology and aviation manufacturing industries, pilot and flight attendant groups, and airlines, held their first meeting last week to study PED use.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood to step down

This morning, Secretary Ray LaHood announced to the employees of the U.S. Department of Transportation that after serving for four years in President Obama’s Cabinet, he would not be staying on for the second term. The Secretary sent the following email to DOT employees across the country, informing them of his plans:

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BP pleads guilty to crimes surrounding Deepwater Horizon tragedy

BP Exploration and Production Inc. pleaded guilty today to 14 criminal counts for its illegal conduct leading to and after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, and was sentenced to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties, the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history, Attorney General Holder announced today.

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Kids’ health and the environment: progress in some areas, but…

A report on the health of children as it relates to the environment shows that fewer U.S. children are being exposed to lead, tobacco smoke and air pollution, but more are developing asthma.

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CSB calls for tighter security at rural oil, gas sites

Two people seriously injured by explosion in Texas

A recent incident at a rural oil and gas production site in Texas that critically injured two people has the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) renewing its call for more precautions – despite the fact that the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC-TX) has declined to increase security at such sites, arguing that the number of incidents doesn’t justify it.

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Solis looks back on DOL experiences

A public service career that started “almost as a lark” ends – at least for now – with the departure of Hilda S. Solis as U.S. Secretary of Labor. In her farewell on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) blog, Solis listed the accomplishments of the department under her tenure:

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BP names new safety head

BP has named Bob Fryar Executive Vice-President for Safety and Operational Risk (S&OR), starting February 15th. Fryar, who is currently Executive Vice President for production in BP’s upstream business, will report directly to Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive. Dudley said that Fryar’s “deep technical expertise, profound knowledge of our operations and commitment to our values will serve him well in his new role” on the executive team.

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DOL to study job misclassification

In a move that could impact worker health and safety, the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) will launch a $1.9 million study on job misclassification. “The misclassification of employees as something other than employees, such as independent contractors, presents a serious problem for affected employees, employers, and to the entire economy,” according to the DOL.

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OSHA to regulate aircraft cabins as workplaces?

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) submitted comments on Jan. 22 raising questions about a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed-policy to allow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversight of aircraft cabin workplace safety issues. The FAA proposal raises the specter of additional oversight and regulation of business aircraft operations, according to an NBAA press statement.

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Acting Secretary of Labor named

Seth D. Harris, the Department of Labor's deputy secretary since May 2009, has been named acting secretary of labor. Before joining the department, Harris was a professor of law at New York Law School and director of its Labor & Employment Law Programs.

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Target store janitors claiming to be locked in file complaint with OSHA

In mid-January, in a press conference in front of Target Corporation headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, over two dozen employees of retail cleaning companies that clean Target stores in the Twin Cities metro area announced OSHA complaints that were filed January 17th. The complaints allege that workers, who are employees of the cleaning contractors, are locked in the Target stores and must find a manager to unlock doors if there is a need to exit the building.

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NTSB Chairman to testify on pipeline safety

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman is testifying about pipeline safety today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Hersman will provide an overview of the NTSB’s ongoing investigation into the cause of a natural gas transmission pipeline rupture that occurred in Sissonville, West Virginia on Dec.11, 2012.

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MSHA finds fewer violations, but frequent violators persist

One mine operator cited 35 times in two years for same hazard

December impact inspections by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) found one of the lowest number of violations to date, but Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health said: "We still see some mines that fail to address recurring problems that put miners at risk."

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Oil, gas “safety stand-down” runs through Feb. 28

A “safety stand down” to promote safety and health practices at oil and gas exploration and production sites in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas continues through Feb. 28. The program is an initiative by OSHA and the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network, more commonly known as STEPS.

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