A Thought-filled Newsletter from Scott Oxman to our Clients, Colleagues, and Friends
OSHA It! – Stuck in the Middle with You
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you!
– Steelers Wheel
In 2015, employers are stuck in the middle – on one side, visionary business executives are implementing initiatives to find and fix unsafe behaviors, hazards and new threats to safety and security. On the other side there are OSHA enforcement initiatives underway mandating new recordkeeping requirements, penalizing non-compliant safety incentive plans, fining under-reporting of injuries, protecting whistleblowers, possibly creating a nationalized Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“I2P2”), implementing new personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, chemical safety regulations and many more.
Safety Pays When You Budget for It
Company leaders have to make prudent safety spending decisions to protect assets, people, profits and the environment while infusing corporate goals, values and aspirations into every decision. How a leader commits to, supports and budgets for safety will directly impact the company’s bottom line. This new year should see results measured against goals, safety included in functional job descriptions, and every employee held accountable in support of the company’s safety culture. Your assets depend on it.
If The Goal is No Employee Injured, Then You Need a Safety Culture Improvement Plan
Every visionary employer should have a Safety Culture Improvement Plan with Action Steps, Timelines for Completion and Directly Responsible Individuals in place. The Plan brings safety up to habit strength while generating discretionary energy that employees deposit back into the company and is released as profitability, creativity, increased productivity, and loyalty. Oxman Safety’s proprietary safety and performance management assessment is available to assess your safety culture and help you keep on track.
Our best to you and yours,
Oxman Safety (310) 420-8538
Regulatory Trends in the News…
New OSHA Reporting Requirements are Now in Effect
As of Jan. 1, 2015, there is a change to what covered employers are required to report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers are now required to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours of finding out about the incident. Reminder: Employers must post 300A injury/illness summary form February 1 through April 30 and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.
Liability for Outside Contractors
Subcontracting out services does not relieve the business owner from liability, OSHA citations or fines. A St. Petersburg, FL resort was held responsible for the death of worker from an outside elevator servicing contractor who was crushed under an elevator. The subcontractor had not de-energized the power – a standard Lock-Out/Tag-Out (LOTO) procedure – leading to the fatality. It was determined that both the Resort and the subcontractor had failed to coordinate their LOTO procedures and that employees lacked training. Both were held responsible for the death and were cited and fined.
ADA Pool Lifts for Hotels
A reminder that pool lifts for the disabled must be ‘readily available’ during all pool open hours. Each body of water is required to have it’s own lift. This means that the lift must be installed and ready for immediate use by the disabled guest without asking hotel management for its use. If a guest must ask, the hotel is in violation of the law. If the lift is battery operated, the battery must be fully charged, installed and ready for use. We recommend that all pool employees be regularly trained on how to operate the lift(s) and make immediately available the operational lift as well as any safety considerations that might arise. Penalties for non-compliance can exceed $55,000 per ADA citation by the Department of Justice. If you have questions about compliance, contact the DOJ’s ADA Consultants at (800) 514-0301.
GHS – OSHA has Revised the Hazard Communication Standard
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard has been aligned with the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA estimates that over 5 million workplaces employing approximately 43 million workers in the United States will be affected by the revised standard. Once fully implemented, the new standard is expected to:
★ Improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive;
★ Enhance worker comprehension of hazards, especially for low and limited-literacy workers, reduce confusion in the workplace, facilitate safety training, and result in safer handling and use of chemicals;
★ Provide workers quicker and more efficient access to information on the Safety Data Sheets (SDS);
★ Result in cost savings to American businesses of more than $475 million in productivity improvements, fewer SDS and label updates and simpler new hazard communication training: and
★ Reduce trade barriers by harmonizing with systems around the world.
REMINDER: The new the new GHS gives workers the right to understand. Oxman Safety has a comprehensive chemical safety guide available on our website.
Whistleblower Protection, Underreporting, Repeat and Serious Violations
Whistleblower Protection – In 2014, the number of whistleblower complaints filed with OSHA jumped to over 3,000, a steady climb for the past ten years. Employers should review their policies to proactively prevent retaliating against an employee for whistleblowing. http://www.whistleblowers.gov/whistleblower/wb_data_FY05-14.pdf. Fines and penalties for whistleblowing are significant. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or the government. Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor. More information is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.
Underreporting – Giving of safety awards for ‘no incidents/accidents’ is viewed by OSHA as contributing to the underreporting of workplace injuries and close calls. We recommend that all safety awards be based upon implementation of proven loss control behaviors and policies such as safety meeting attendance, safety feedback, training, and inspections.
Willful and Serious Violations – Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Motion Picture Production Company for “Midnight Rider” Film Cited for Willful and Serious Safety Violations Following Worker Fatality and Injuries
JESUP, Ga. – Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, was killed and eight other workers were injured while trying to escape an oncoming freight train during the filming of a scene on Feb. 20 for the movie “Midnight Rider,” a biopic based on the life of musician Gregg Allman. Film Allman LLC of Pasadena, CA, was cited by OSHA for one willful and one serious safety violation for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards. “Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA – Dr. David Michaels. “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle.” OSHA initiated the inspection in response to the incident, which occurred during the filming of a scene on the tracks of the Doctortown train trestle in Georgia that spans the Altamaha River. While the crew was filming, a CSX Corp. train traveling on the tracks was observed heading toward them. Crew members immediately started exiting the tracks, trying to remove set pieces and get off the trestle. However, they were unable to outrun the oncoming train. Ms. Jones was killed and eight other crew members were injured by debris when the train hit a hospital bed being used as a set piece. “Their failure to develop a safety plan to prevent such hazards, including obtaining permission from the rail owner to use the tracks for filming, led to the death of one crew member and injuries to eight other employees,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Regional Administrator for the Southeast. A willful citation was issued for the employer’s failure to provide safety measures to protect employees from moving trains. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. The serious citation was issued for exposing workers to fall hazards while working on a train trestle that was not equipped with safety guardrails or other fall protection measures. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, fatal work injuries in Georgia accounted for 101 of the 4,628 fatal work injuries* reported in 2012. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov. Film Allman LLC was on location filming the Gregg Allman biopic. The movie production company had 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply; request a conference with OSHA’s Savannah, GA Area Director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission. At the time of the incident, the company employed 20 workers on the set and approximately 74 workers nationwide. Proposed
penalties total $74,900. See the full report here:
Employee Texting – Distractions – Accidents – What is Your Policy?
Distracted driving has become an epidemic in the United States, and its often fatal consequences are a threat to your workers, your business and the public… Most employers want to do the right thing and protect their workers, and some have already taken action to prohibit texting while driving. It is your responsibility and legal obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace, and that would include having a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving. – David Michaels, US Department of Labor, OSHA
Distraction is Killing Us – Safety First When Texting
There is no one-size-fits-all policy of texting in the workplace but every business needs one. Your policy should reflect your business culture, employee makeup, team members, job descriptions, your unique hazards, environment, and your expectations for employees. If your company requires employees to drive there must be a total ban from using their cellphones for surfing, talking, texting while driving or performing any job where the distraction of the text creates a workplace hazard. Other examples of work environments where texting on the job is a safety hazard are production employees in manufacturing plants, construction workers onsite, drivers of heavy machinery, laboratory workers who handle dangerous chemicals, operating room doctors, nurses and technicians. It is up to each business to evaluate the job hazards of texting and cell phone use at work and to implement a safety policy on cell phone use.For a model policy on texting and driving https://www.osha.gov/distracted-driving/modelpolicies.html
~OSHA requires every business to provide a safe working environment~