OSHA inspections increase, the crew of a fishing vessel escapes a sinking ship and two young UPS workers lose their lives in a California workplace incident. These were among the occupational safety and health stories featured on ISHN.com this week.


NJ construction company pays OSHA penalties after 21 years of resistance

December 6, 2019

After more than two decades years of legal wrangling, OSHA has finally collected $412,000 in penalties assessed to a New Jersey construction company for safety violations – plus interest. The action comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July found Altor Inc. and its president Vasilios Saites in contempt for failing to pay the fines. Even that decision – which followed litigation that included multiple hearings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) and the Court of Appeals – was followed by subsequent briefings and negotiations before the case came to a close.


Nearly a fourth of U.S. middle, high school students use tobacco products

"This report is further evidence that the tobacco industry is succeeding in addicting a new generation to nicotine."

December 6, 2019

Twenty-three percent of middle and high school students in the U.S. – a total of 6.2 million youth – have used a tobacco product in the past 30 days, according to the The National Youth Tobacco Survey results released yesterday. Why that matters: Most long-term tobacco product use begins during adolescence – and tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in this country and many others.


This week in OSH news

December 6, 2019

Workplace violence was a common theme in some of the workplace incidents that killed or injured employees in the U.S. There were also incidents involving machinery, a fall and a struck-by fatality. Here are some of the occupational safety news stories of the week:


CIC crane operator certifications not accepted going forward

December 5, 2019

Crane operators take note: OSHA will not accept crane operator certifications or re-certifications issued by Crane Institute Certification (CIC) after December 2 because CIC is not compliant with OSHA’s operator certification requirement, according to a temporary enforcement policy announced this week by the agency.


To the life raft!

Captain ignores forecast, fishing vessel goes down in gale force winds

December 5, 2019

The sinking of a fishing vessel off Portland, Maine last year sounds very much like a scene from the Hollywood movie, “A Perfect Storm," starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg. Fortunately, the real-life crew survived, unlike their cinematic counterparts – although their rescue was not without some tense moments. In both cases, however, a major factor in the calamity which endangered crew members was the captain’s decision not to return directly to port despite extreme weather conditions.


EPA: No new rules on petroleum, coal products mfg industry

December 5, 2019

The EPA said yesterday that it will not impose new financial responsibility requirements for the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry (the industrial sector that transforms crude petroleum and coal into usable products) “because the financial risk to the federal government from those facilities is already addressed by various existing federal and state technical and financial requirements and modern material management practices.”


“Mobile stroke units” could save lives in cities

December 5, 2019

Mobile Stroke Units (MSUs), vehicles equipped to provide stroke treatment before reaching a hospital, provided lifesaving care to stroke patients in Manhattan approximately 30 minutes faster, compared to patients transported to hospitals in traditional ambulances and who did not receive stroke treatment until arriving at the hospital, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


OSHA’s inspections, compliance assistance increased in 2019

December 4, 2019

OSHA has released fiscal year (FY) 2019 final statistics showing a significant increase in the number of inspections and a record amount of compliance assistance to further the mission of ensuring that employers provide workplaces free of hazards. Federal OSHA conducted 33,401 inspections—more inspections than the previous three years.


NTSB: Worker error behind school building blowing up

Lawsuits are pending

December 4, 2019

It was a nightmare scenario by any reckoning: workers installing piping at a school accidentally set off a release of gas and ran to warn everyone to evacuate. Some people made it out of the building before a thunderous explosion destroyed it. Others didn’t. That’s what occurred on the morning of August 2, 2017, at Minnehaha Academy, a private school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The blast killed two employees, custodian John Carlson and receptionist Ruth Berg, and seriously injured nine others.


“Out-of-control” truck on movie set injures worker

December 4, 2019

An incident that occurred Friday on the set of a Hollywood movie being filmed in British Columbia left a crew member with injuries, according to TMZ. EMTs were summoned to the set of “The Last Victim,” a movie starring Ron Perlman. TMZ is reporting that the driver of the truck involved accidentally accelerated, missing its stop and “sending the crew scrambling to safety.”


FCC considering three-digit suicide prevention hotline

December 4, 2019

With suicide rates rising in the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing the establishment of 988 as a national 3-digit number to help people access suicide prevention and mental health services. While a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline already exists – and can reached at (1-800-273-TALK) – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says an easy-to-reach number would result in more people getting the assistance they need.


DOT takes steps to improve safety of U.S. railroad crossings

December 3, 2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) yesterday announced the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to improve safety at public highway-rail grade crossings nationwide. The proposed rule would require all states and the District of Columbia to develop and implement a new or updated highway-rail grade crossing action plan no later than one year after the effective date of the final rule.


Europeans increase efforts to reduce occupational cancer risk

December 3, 2019

The European Roadmap on Carcinogens – an initiative first launched in May 2016 in Amsterdam under the Dutch EU Presidency – was extended last week in Helsinki by organizations that included the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The roadmap is a voluntary effort to raise awareness among workers and employers about the risks of exposure to carcinogens in the workplace.


A NIOSH Science Blog post

Wholesale and retail trade fatal and nonfatal injuries and illnesses: 2006–2016

Vern Putz Anderson PhD, CPE Jeanette Novakovich PhD Paul Schulte PhD

December 3, 2019

From 2006 through 2016, injury and illness rates declined overall for private industry, including the wholesale and retail trade sectors. For its size, the WRT workforce experienced a disproportionately 5% higher burden or share of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. WRT is one of the largest economic sectors in the United States – even a small increase in the burden affects large numbers of workers, their families, employers, and communities.


Healthcare workplace violence prevention bill clears one hurdle

December 3, 2019

A bill to address workplace violence in the health care and social service sectors was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309), sponsored by Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] passed the House Nov. 21 and would need to be approved by the Senate before taking effect.


How to ensure forklift safety in warehouses

December 2, 2019

Whether you shop in a brick-and-mortar store or online, the goods you purchase spent some time in one of 7,000 warehouses in the U.S. before making their way into your home. More than 145,000 people work in those warehouses – some in a seasonal capacity. There, they are subject to an injury rate that is higher than the national average for all industries.


DOT wants your ideas on “the transportation system of the future”

December 2, 2019

“The NETT council was established to provide a common portal to the Department’s decentralized modes to better engage with new technologies which are cross-modal; the Department is seeking input on how to make the NETT council work more effectively to prepare for the transportation system of the future,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Study connects air pollution to Alzheimer’s-like brain changes

December 2, 2019

Women in their 70s and 80s who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution experienced greater declines in memory and more Alzheimer’s-like brain atrophy than their counterparts who breathed cleaner air, according to USC researchers. The findings of the nationwide study, published in the journal Brain, touch on the renewed interest in preventing Alzheimer’s disease by reducing risk as well as hint at a potential disease mechanism.


2 young part-time UPS workers killed in California

December 2, 2019

A workplace incident last week claimed the lives of two part-time package handlers at the UPS operation in Ontario, California. News reports say 20-year-old Austin Stache and 22-year-old Noe Tinoco Jr. were killed in the incident, which occurred early in the morning of Nov. 25 at the UPS hub at Ontario International Airport.


FCC proposal to split wireless spectrum raises safety alarms

NSC: This short-sighted decision puts convenience above safety

December 1, 2019

“Forty thousand people died in 2018 on American roadways. Forty thousand died the year before. How many more people need to die in crashes to help FCC commissioners understand that support for this proposal will cost lives? Technology to advance safety has the potential to save thousands of lives each year, and having dedicated spectrum allows transportation industry players to test promising services without the threat of harmful interference from Wi-Fi users."