Weekly news round-up
A safety scandal engulfs the CDC, a scientist whose discovery has protected the hands of millions of workers passes and fall fatalities were among the top EHS-related stories featured on ISHN.com this week:
It’s not often the OSHA chief is interviewed by one of the Big 3 TV Networks. But that’s what happened recently when NBC’sSeth Freed Wessler interviewed OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels.
Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess was instructed to attend a meeting at 11 am on September 3, 2013 – the day after Labor Day – with California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern and Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker at DIR’s Oakland Headquarters.
According to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (a panel of 13 nutrition experts charged with helping develop federal nutrition standards), Americans are eating many more calories than they used to.
Employees at Brooklyn demolition site faced potentially fatal falls
Workers demolishing a three-unit, three-story residential building in Brooklyn's Prospect-Lefferts Gardens section were exposed to potentially fatal falls due to their employer's failure to provide and ensure the use of lifesaving fall protection. As a result, OSHA has proposed $45,200 in penalties against Brooklyn contractor US Demco of Brooklyn Inc. for one willful and seven serious violations of workplace safety standards.
Frequently asked questions answered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Are we sure that radon is a health risk? EPA already has a wealth of scientific data on the relationship between radon exposure and the development of lung cancer. The scientific experts agree that the occupational miner data is a very solid base from which to estimate risk of lung cancer deaths annually.
The head of the U.S. Senate's workplace safety subcommittee has asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to explain its handling of the death a temp worker who suffocated under a pile of sugar at a Pennsylvania plant. The details of OSHA's investigation were reported Sunday by ProPublica and Univision.
OSHA cites Sterilite Corp., staffing agency unsafe conditions
OSHA has cited Sterilite Corp., doing business as Sterilite of Alabama LLC, and Marathon Staffing Corp. Inc., for 13 safety and health violations. OSHA initiated the January 2013 inspection at Sterilite's plastics manufacturing facility in Birmingham as part of its National Emphasis Program on Amputations and regional emphasis program to limit worker exposure to high noise levels. Proposed penalties total $49,000.
Common-sense ventilation practices “were ignored”
An impact inspection at the Rhino Eastern LLC's Eagle Mine 3 in Wyoming County, West Virginia, found conditions that put miners at risk of developing black lung disease and that increased the potential for deadly explosions, underscoring the importance of mine safety vigilance and the need for continued improvements in controlling coal dust.
Morlan Enterprises cited by OSHA for willful safety violation
A company whose workers were “free climbing” – climbing without safety lines has earned citations from OSHA for one willful and eight serious safety violations. Proposed penalties total $52,500.
Company fined $54,000
The employer of two workers who died while working on a freeway overpass has been cited by OSHA for four safety violations. R.R. Dawson Bridge Co. LLC exposed workers to fall hazards, failed to provide employees working near the bridge's edge with required fall protection and failed to inspect employee fall arrest systems before use, according to OSHA investigators.
Fall protection (1926.501) was the most frequently-cited OSHA standard in fiscal year 2013 – specially the period October 2012 through September 2013. OSHA conducted 7,900 inspections involving the fall protection standards, a very high number compared to almost any other agency rule, and due to the fact OSHA devotes about half of its inspections to construction sites.
Hydratight Americas, a global engineering company providing products and services to the oil, gas and power generation industries, has completed more than one million man hours without a recordable injury.
Press conference addresses concerns about CDC lab quality, safety
TOM FRIEDEN: First, we had the potential exposure to anthrax at CDC’s laboratory. Second, earlier this week, we learned about an incident in CDC’s influenza laboratory. And third, we had the discovery of vials labeled as smallpox in a storage room on the NIH campus and CDC’s work to secure and to characterize these materials.
Outlines steps being taken to improve lab safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report that reviews the early June incident that involved the unintentional exposure of personnel to potentially viable anthrax at the CDC’s Roybal Campus. The report identifies factors found to have contributed to the incident; and highlights actions taken by the agency to address these factors and prevent future incidents.
• Has the most suitable equipment been selected to ensure safety, including for access and evacuation? • Are ladders only used when other equipment is not justified in view of the short length and low risk of the task? •Is the scaffold erected on a firm foundation?
A newly formed alliance seeks to serve as a global source for information, guidance and knowledge on indoor environmental quality. A memorandum of understanding creating the Indoor Environmental Quality Global Alliance was signed Sunday, June 29, at ASHRAE’s 2014 Annual Conference in Seattle, Wash.
Falls from heights are the most common cause of injury and death. Causes include: working on a scaffold or platform without guard rails or without a safety harness correctly attached; fragile roofs; and ladders that are badly maintained, positioned and secured.
Ultra strong fiber revolutionized hand protection, other products
Stephanie Kwolek, the DuPont chemist best known for inventing Kevlar, died June 18 at the age of 90. Kevlar is considered a “happy accident” within the scientific community. Kwolek and her colleagues at DuPont were attempting to develop a strong synthetic fiber that could be used in tires when she noticed a mixture of a polymer and a solvent that appeared cloudy – quite different from the usual translucent appearance of conventional polymer solutions.