OSHA Watch – Duncan Financial Group
Heat Illness, Fall Data, PPE for Women, and Fraudulent Safety Training Challenge Contractors
June 11, 2024
Emerging Risks: Drug Test Cheating, Injury Trends
June 12, 2024
Heat Illness, Fall Data, PPE for Women, and Fraudulent Safety Training Challenge Contractors
June 11, 2024
Emerging Risks: Drug Test Cheating, Injury Trends
June 12, 2024
OSHA Watch

Pile of documents with Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA.

OSHA Watch

Final walkaround rule allows employee representatives

The controversial walkaround rule, which has been opposed by many business groups, has been finalized and becomes effective May 31, 2024. Historically, employee representation during an inspection has been limited to individuals who are employees of the employer that is being inspected. For employer representatives or for employee representatives who are employees of the employer the regulations have no specific qualifying requirements.

However, the new rule gives employees the right to select a nonemployee to accompany a compliance officer during the inspection process/facility walkaround. For a nonemployee representative to accompany the compliance officer, the officer must consider such parties “reasonably necessary to the conduct of an effective and thorough physical inspection of the workplace.” A clarification was issued noting the decision should be based on factors such as knowledge or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills to ensure an effective and thorough inspection.

Many stakeholders are concerned that the rule will foster union organizing, potentially expose confidential information or trade secrets, allow disgruntled third parties access to the facilities, influence employee interviews, and more. Employers should review their protocols and procedures for managing an OSHA inspection, have a process and designated person to decide if an inspection with a third-party representative will be allowed or a warrant requested (best to seek legal counsel),determine what areas will be off-limits to protect trade secrets, and prepare for a potential increase in union organizing.

New hazard alert on severe injuries in food processing industry

A new hazard alert is aimed at reducing the “alarming number” of serious, preventable injuries in poultry, meat and other food processing establishments. The alert also reminds employers that federal regulations prohibit employees younger than 18 “from most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing, rendering and packing establishments.” From 2015 to 2022, around 1,500 injuries involving food/beverage process machinery and butchering machinery were reported, as well as about 400 injuries involving food slicers and mixers, blenders, and whippers.

New resources for National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

New resources are available for the 11th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, set for May 6-10. These include a stand-down poster, available in English and Spanish, as well as hard hat stickers and hazard alert cards.

Employers can share their stand-down stories by emailing oshastanddown@dol.gov or using the hashtag #StandDown4Safety on social media.

Workplace earbud use growing concern

An investigation into the death of a 21-year-old worker at a golf cart manufacturing plant, Club Car LLC in Evans, Georgia has gotten the attention of workplace safety advocates. While this case involved a worker who was killed while trying to locate a dropped earbud, recognizing the detrimental impact earbud and cellphone use have on situational awareness, advocates are urging employers to develop a policy to mitigate the risk. Since there is no standard governing workplace earbud use, any citations for safety violations related to their use would be under the general duty clause.

Modest budget request focused on enforcement

The White House is requesting a roughly $23 million increase, or 3.7 percent, over the current continuing appropriations for FY 2024. Much of that proposed increase – around $18.6 million – would go toward enforcement and the addition of 14 inspectors.

MSHA tool to help miners locate healthcare providers and resources

A new web tool from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is intended to assist miners and their families locate healthcare facilities and specialists.

State Plans

Cal/OSHA
Indoor heat illness rule adopted despite state objections

In late March, the Standards Board adopted a new indoor heat illness rule shortly after the Department of Finance took the unusual step of rescinding its approval of the Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (known as SRIA), a requirement when any proposed regulation has an estimated economic impact exceeding $50 million because it had not been fully analyzed the SRIA. The Office of Administrative Law now has 30 working days to review the rulemaking record to ensure that the agency satisfied regulatory requirements in passing the rule (now uncertain) and can either approve the rule and file it with the Secretary of State for finalization or disapprove it and send it back to the agency.

While this delay was unexpected, some form of an indoor heat standard is likely to be implemented and employers should familiarize themselves with the proposed rule.

Model plan and guidance for complying with workplace violence prevention law published

Senate Bill (SB) 553, which requires virtually all employers to establish, implement, and maintain an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP), as well as train employees, and create and maintain extensive records regarding workplace violence, takes effect July 1, 2024. To assist employers, guidance was recently issued including a model WVPP (.docx) and a fact sheet.

MIOSHA

Safety in construction

As the spring construction activity ramps up, contractors are reminded that effective Jan. 3, the Construction Standard Part 9, Excavation, Trenching, and Shoring was amended. Among the changes, the word “vertically” was added to R 408.40945, “Trenching Boxes and Shields,” to match OSHA and definitions were added to modernize standards. The trenching and excavation webpage offers resources with additional information on trenching hazards and solutions.

Mental health monthly series continues

The most recent Mental Health in the Workplace program examined the impact of organizational structure on behavior in the workplace and how system changes can foster improved workplace mental health. Download the presentation.

Calendar of training courses

MNOSHA

Save the dates: PTSD study informational meetings

Two informational meetings on a legislatively mandated study about work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be conducted by researchers from the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety of the University of Minnesota. The meetings are open to the public and are offered virtually on Wednesday, April 24, 9:30 a.m.; and Monday, April 29, 2 p.m.

For more information about the meetings, submit questions in advance, or to sign up for updates about the PTSD study, visit the post-traumatic stress disorder study webpage or email ptsdstudy.dli@state.mn.us.

Findings of rideshare driver study released

A report of the earnings, working conditions, and options for pay standards for transportation network company (TNC) drivers as required by Executive Order 23-07, issued by Gov. Tim Walz has been released.

New edition of Safety Lines available

The most recent edition of the quarterly newsletter, Safety Lines, was published and is available online. Although some of the material is dated, it provides a comprehensive review of actions and rulemaking in 2023.

Upcoming events and training

Recent fines and awards

Georgia

    1. A Macon plumbing contractor, Pyles Plumbing and Utility Contractors Inc., was cited for two willful violations after a trench collapse resulted in the death of a 20-year-old worker and hospitalization of another. Proposed penalties are $308,125.
    2. An Atlanta-based chemical manufacturer, Southern Industrial Chemicals Inc. operating as SIC Technologies, faces $289,439 in penalties for 67 violations. The violations relate to dangers associated with chemicals and struck-by hazards.
    3. Gainesville-based Avenger Products LLC and parent company Kittrich Corp., pesticide and agricultural chemical manufacturers are being sued over allegations that the company illegally fired a worker in retaliation for raising safety concerns associated with chemical exposures in the workplace.

New York

    1. Nanuet-based ALJ Home Improvement, a roofing company that was cited for egregious willful and other violations and issued a $687,536 penalty over a workplace death has dropped its contest of the citation. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission had affirmed three per-instance egregious willful fall protection violations, four serious violations, and a willful unsafe ladder violation, as well as the full proposed penalties.
    2. A Rochester employer, Oxford Airport Technical Services, was cited after a fatal injury of a forklift operator at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Inspectors found that the company failed to ensure the worker wore a seatbelt, all forklift operators were not properly trained and certified, and a damaged forklift was not taken out of service. The company received four serious citations with $46,096 in proposed penalties.
    3. An East Patchogue construction contractor, Northridge Construction Corp, will pay $144,000 in penalties and implement enhanced compliance actions and policies to reduce workplace hazards for its companies’ and subcontractors’ employees as part of a stipulated settlement agreement. An employee fell to his death while walking on roof panels and the company was cited for fall, struck-by, and electrical violations.

Pennsylvania

    1. The Regal Industrial Corp. in Millville reached a settlement to resolve litigation following a complaint investigation in April 2022. The company affirmed four willful, 11 serious, and two other-than-serious violations, with penalties of $299,000. As part of the agreement the company must implement enhanced abatement measures, identify and control hazards, provide education and training to workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand, and conduct periodic reviews.
    2. Following a fatality investigation, a Valencia finishing company, Vorteq Coil Finishers LLC, was cited for two willful and two serious violations for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures and not installing machine guarding. The employee was instructed to clean a chrome roller on a coater machine while it was running. The company faces $345,685 in penalties and was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

Wisconsin

    1. Inspected under the National Emphasis Program for amputation hazards, WD Flooring LLC, a hardwood flooring manufacturer was found to have exposed workers to multiple hazards related to lockout/tagout, machine guarding, falls, forklifts, PPE, chemicals, hearing conservation, recording injuries and more. It was cited for four repeat, 28 serious, and six other-than-serious violations, with proposed penalties of $269,662.
    2. A federal judge has sentenced six Didion Milling Inc. officials for their role in a fatal explosion at a facility operated by the corn milling company in 2017. Three were sentenced to two years in prison, one or two years of supervised release, and $5,000 – $10,000 in fines. Three former Didion shift superintendents were sentenced to a year of probation and fined.

Schedule an appointment with one of our financial professionals for more information regarding the financial importance of keeping up with OSHA.