Friday, August 30, 2013

OSHA to protect safety and health of female construction workers

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Aug. 22, 2013
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA signs alliance, creates Web page to protect safety and health of female
construction workers

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has signed an alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction to develop training resources to protect women in the construction industry. The alliance will focus on musculoskeletal and sanitation hazards and issues related to poorly-fitting personal protective equipment.

"Safety and health problems in construction create barriers to women entering and remaining in this field," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Through this alliance, we will work together to forge innovative solutions to improve the safety, health and working conditions for women in the construction trades and retain female workers during a critical time of job shortages in this industry."

During the two-year agreement, the alliance intends to develop training programs, fact sheets and other outreach resources on musculoskeletal hazards, sanitation and PPE selection. The alliance will focus on these and other safety and health issues specific to female construction workers.

Based on a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA this week also unveiled its new Women in Construction Web page, a site that outlines and addresses safety and health issues specific to female construction workers, including PPE, sanitary facilities and other resources.
For more information on the alliance, visit the OSHA-NAWIC Web page. The agreement will remain in effect for two years. Visit OSHA's Women in Construction Web page for more information about OSHA regulations and resources for women in construction.

NAWIC, founded in 1955 as a support network for women working in the construction industry, has more than 150 chapters and represents 4,500 members nationwide. As of 2010, there were about 800,000 women working in the construction industry, roughly nine percent of the industry workforce.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections or any other enforcement benefits. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What is Crystalline Silica?

Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might encounter on beaches and playgrounds – is created during work operations involving stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, mortar, and industrial sand. Exposures to respirable crystalline silica can occur when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing these materials. These exposures are common in brick, concrete, and pottery manufacturing operations, as well as during operations using industrial sand products, such as in foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in the oil and gas industry.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Firefighters' precautions to prevent dust explosions

Firefighting tactics may cause combustible dust explosions!

Typical firefighting tactics can unintentionally create the conditions for an explosion by creating dust clouds, introducing air, using equipment that can be an ignition source, or applying incompatible extinguishing agents. The safeguards on both sides of this card can help keep you safe when operating around materials such as sawdust, flour, sugar, grain, coal, fertilizer and aluminum dust.

How do dust explosions occur?

Be prepared for an emergency incident

  • Conduct thorough pre-incident planning.
  • Work closely with facility safety personnel.
  • Have emergency contact information for each facility.
  • Identify and learn about explosion protection devices and systems.
  • Train regularly with facility personnel.
  • Check fire hose thread compatibility.
  • Review OSHA’s booklet Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust (OSHA 3644).
  • Draft an incident action plan.

Take precautions to prevent or mitigate dust explosions

  • Fire attack: Choose defensive mode when warranted.
  • Extinguishing agent: Select agent compatible with burning or nearby material.
  • Hose streams: Use low-pressure medium fog streams to avoid dust clouds.
  • Fire extinguishers: Apply agent gently to avoid dust clouds.
  • Access and ventilation: Consider proper timing before introducing oxygen.
  • Power shutdown: Coordinate equipment shutdown with facility personnel.
  • Tools and equipment: Do not introduce ignition sources.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Recordkeeping by Employee Treated by a Reduction Procedure on Ring Finger

June 26, 2013

Dear Ms. B*****:

Thank you for your September 2012 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the recordkeeping regulation contained in 29 CFR Part 1904 - Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

You are asking OSHA to determine whether your employer is required to record a work-related injury sustained by an employee which was treated by a reduction procedure performed on her dislocated ring finger. You further stated that the employee had no broken bones, no medication, no splints, and no restrictions and returned to work immediately after the reduction of her ring finger. You want to know if this is considered first aid.

As stated in the November 16, 2009 letter of interpretation, reduction is the care of a disorder not included on the first aid list under 1904.7(b)(5) and therefore it is considered medical treatment for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. Your letter states that an injured employee could have performed this procedure by himself or herself. This fact is irrelevant. 

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in responses to new information. To keep appraised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at In an effort to provide the public with prompt and accurate responses, we developed and continue to refine a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), in addition to maintaining a log of Letters of Interpretation (LOI) on the OSHA Recordkeeping web site.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Free OSHA On-Site Consultation Program for Small Businesses

Free On-site Consultation program helps small businesses improve workplace safety and health

On-site Consultation Program
To assist small businesses in complying with OSHA standards and protecting workers, OSHA's On-site Consultation provides a free, confidential service for businesses with fewer than 250 employees per site (and no more than 500 employees nationwide). On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.

OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. In FY 2012, responding to requests from small employers looking to create or improve their injury and illness prevention programs, OSHA's On-site Consultation Program conducted approximately 30,000 visits to small business worksites covering over 1.5 million workers across the nation.

On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hazard alert on 1-bromopropane

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OSHA News Release: 13-1563-NAT
July 31, 2013
Contact: Adriano Llosa
Phone: 202-693-4686

OSHA and NIOSH issue hazard alert on 1-bromopropane,
urge efforts to safeguard workers from exposure to toxic chemical

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health today issued a hazard alert to urge employers that use 1-bromopropane (1-BP) to take appropriate steps to protect workers from exposure. 

"The use of 1-bromopropane has increased in workplaces over the last 20 years," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Workers exposed to this toxic chemical can suffer serious health effects, even long after exposure has ended. Hazardous exposure to 1-BP must be prevented. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers."

Exposure to 1-BP has been associated with damage to the nervous system among workers, and it has been shown to cause reproductive harm in animal studies. The chemical is used in degreasing operations, furniture manufacturing, and dry cleaning. The hazard alert was issued in response to information on the increased use of 1-BP as a substitute for other solvents as well as recent reports of overexposure in furniture manufacturing. 1-BP was nominated as a chemical of concern in OSHA's Web Forum to Identify Hazardous Chemicals. 

Workers can be exposed to 1-BP by breathing in vapors or spray mists and by absorption through the skin. The most effective way to protect workers from exposure is to eliminate the use of 1-BP, substituting the chemical with a less toxic substance or less hazardous material. Replacement chemicals also may have associated hazards that need to be considered and controlled.

Engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to 1-BP include isolation of workplace operations and the installation of proper ventilation systems. Other controls, such as a reduction in the time a worker is exposed to the chemical, should also be considered. 

The hazard alert can be viewed at:*