The opioid epidemic’s toll on the U.S. workforce, retaliation against an undocumented worker leads to his arrest and federal worker safety agencies get a look at what could be their budgets next year. These were among the top stories featured on this week.

Workers toiling inside furnaces exposed to thermal, other hazards

March 22, 2019

OSHA has proposed penalties of $1,326,367 to Dowa THT America Inc. – a metal heat treatment company based in Bowling Green, Ohio – after the company exposed employees to atmospheric, thermal, electrical, and mechanical hazards as they performed maintenance inside heat-treating furnaces. In addition to the penalties, the agency placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.


Computer simulation helps manufacturer improve safety, health

March 22, 2019

How do manufacturing companies know the best and safest way to design workplaces and assign tasks? Ideally, injuries and illnesses should be prevented, but historically companies have adjusted their workplace policies, practices and procedures after an injury or illness occurred. In a NIOSH-supported study at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health, researchers tested the role of computer simulation in promoting workers’ well-being by designing safer work.


Marijuana, prescription drug were factors in fatal train-truck crash

March 21, 2019

A garbage truck driver’s impairment was the likely cause of a deadly collision involving his vehicle and an Amtrak train at a crossing in Virginia, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The incident occurred on January 31, 2018, about 11:16 a.m., when a 2018 Freightliner refuse truck driven by 30-year-old Dana Naylor attempted to navigate a highway-railroad grade crossing in Crozet.


AIHA announces 2019 named awards

March 21, 2019

The American Industrial Hygiene Association announced the recipients of the 2019 AIHA Named Awards, which honor individuals who provide significant contributions to the industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety professions. The award recipients will be recognized Wednesday, May 22, during the Mark of Excellence Awards Breakfast at the 2019 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Worker reports serious injury; employer gets him arrested by ICE

Text messages, phone calls tell the tale

March 21, 2019

OSHA has filed a lawsuit against a Boston, Massachusetts-based contractor, alleging that the company retaliated against an injured employee by facilitating his arrest. The complaint filed last month with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against Tara Construction Inc. and its chief executive officer, Pedro Pirez, states that the worker sustained a serious injury when he fell from a ladder on March 29, 2017. He reported his injury to his employers. OSHA found out about the fall and investigated.


Across the U.S.A.: Workplace amputations, trenching hazards

March 21, 2019

Companies in two different states were cited by OSHA recently after workers suffered amputations at their facilities. In Iowa, an employee of O'Neal Manufacturing Services was injured while operating an unguarded press brake. In Texas, the injured employee of canned food company Bruce Foods Corporation had not been trained on lockout/tagout procedures. O'Neal Manufacturing Services was issued one repeat serious citation by Iowa OSHA, which assessed $64,670 in penalties.


Process Safety Management: A Q&A with Cority’s Ian Cohen

March 20, 2019

What are potential obstacles to building an effective Process Safety Management (PSM) program? From what I’ve seen there are three related obstacles to building an effective PSM program. The first is engagement. It really takes commitment from everyone up and down the chain of command to build a best-in-class PSM program. Related to this is timely and relevant communication so that everyone from the shop floor up to the C-suite is on the same page. And the third obstacle is availability of decision-useful data.


OSHA takes a quarter million dollar hit in 2020 budget proposal

March 20, 2019

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2020 budgets for occupational safety and health agencies is a mixed bag, and include increases for certain OSHA activities while decreasing the agency’s overall funding by $254,000. Key OSH-related items in the budget released earlier this month: Enforcement funding for OSHA will increase by $4 million. So will the number of full-time employees at the agency, by 33.


Health and safety incidents now the biggest loss driver for organizations

Jared Butt

March 20, 2019

Health and safety incidents have become the leading financial loss drivers for businesses around the globe, with cumulative losses now outstripping the costs of more high-profile disruptions such as cyber-attacks or IT outages, according to the latest research. The British Standards Institution (BSI) 2019 Horizon Scan analyzed the risks and threats recognized by 569 organizations worldwide, and compared these against the impact of actual disruptions over the past year.


A FairWarning Story

ATV deaths top 15,000 threshold in latest government report

Myron Levin Eli Wolfe

March 20, 2019

Since the early 1980s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has conducted a grim census, tracking reports of deaths from crashes of all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. Now the body count has risen above 15,250, according to the agency’s latest annual report, with more than one in five of the deaths suffered by children under 16.


Register Now for Safety Fest TN 2019

March 19, 2019

– Safety Fest TN announces that registration is now open for Safety Fest TN 2019. The annual community event offers over 100 free safety classes, sessions, and demonstrations to residents and companies from April 29-May 3. This year’s training will be offered at Y-12’s New Hope Center, ORAU’s Pollard Technical Center, and other venues in Oak Ridge and Knoxville, TN. Registration and a complete list of classes can be found at


Craft breweries get help with workplace hazards

Workers affected by falls, struck-by injuries, overexertion

March 19, 2019

The expansion of the craft brewery industry is continuing at a rapid pace, leading to increased sales - and safety concerns at worksites. Although beer sales in the U.S. were down one percent overall in 2017, craft brewer sales were up by five percent, making that market segment account for an impressive 12.7 percent of the total beer market and more than 23 percent of retail sales of beer.


N. Dakota oil field workers get safety assistance from alliance

March 19, 2019

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the State of North Dakota, and Bakken Basin Safety Consortium have signed an alliance to protect employees, and promote safety and health in the oil and gas industry. The two-year alliance will target both employees and employers.


Have your say on self-driving cars

March 19, 2019

The federal government is pondering how best to accommodate automated vehicles under standards that were developed when all cars were driven solely by humans and self-driving vehicles were not even a glimmer on the horizon. As a part of the process, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is inviting the public to comment on a pair of petitions from Nuro and General Motors (GM) about exemptions to those standards.


New prevention guideline offers “road map” to heart health

March 19, 2019

The choices we make every day can have a lasting effect on our heart and vascular health. Adopting a heart healthy eating plan, getting more exercise, avoiding tobacco and managing known risk factors are among the key recommendations in the 2019 Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease guideline from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Also, it is recommended that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease.


75 percent of workplaces in NSC poll affected by opioid usage

Only 17% of employers polled are well prepared to deal with the issue

March 18, 2019

Seventy-five percent of U.S. employers have been directly affected by opioids but – startlingly ¬– only 17 percent feel extremely well prepared to deal with the issue, according to a survey released today by the National Safety Council in recognition of Poison Prevention Week. Thirty-eight percent have experienced absenteeism or impaired worker performance, and 31 percent have had an overdose, arrest, a near-miss or an injury because of employee opioid use.


Vermont state trooper collapses after exposure to unknown substance

March 18, 2019

A Vermont state trooper collapsed after being exposed to an unknown substance during a traffic stop and was revived by colleagues who administered several doses of Narcan, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. News sources say Sgt. Brett Flansburg stopped a driver for a moving violation Friday night in Leicester, about 40 miles south of Burlington. The driver, 25-year-old Taylor Woodward, then reportedly swallowed a baggie that he later said contained cocaine.


Federal grants to help fund opioid epidemic response jobs

March 18, 2019

Washington State and Missouri will get some help in combating the opioid crisis in the form of Dislocated Worker Grants (DWG) from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Missouri Division of Workforce Development will receive up to $4,090,306 and the Washington State Department of Employment Security will get $886,860 to fund disaster relief jobs and employment services in counties impacted by the health and economic effects of widespread opioid use, addiction, and overdose.


Democrats call for reinstatement of injury, illness reporting requirement

March 18, 2019

Thirty-four Congressional Democrats are calling for the reinstatement of the original Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule published on May 12, 2016, which required companies with 250 or more employees to electronically submit OSHA forms 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) each year. The Trump administration’s final rule, which was published during the government shutdown, only requires employers to submit a 300A – a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses.