Thursday, April 30, 2015

Alliance renewed to protect airline ground personnel

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April 8, 2015
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999


OSHA and Airline Ground Safety Panel renew alliance to protect
airline ground personnel

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today renewed its alliance with the Airline Ground Safety Panel to continue providing information and training resources to members, ground crew unions and contract firms, and workers.

The alliance will address worker injuries that occur during operation of ground support equipment; use of seat belts; new and emerging hazards; slips, trips and falls; ergonomic hazards; extreme temperatures; and understanding the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers under the OSH Act.

"OSHA and members of the airline industry have worked together in recent years to address safety issues among ground personnel," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "The efforts of our continued alliance with AGSP will go a long way toward keeping workers across the country safe and healthy at the end of every workday."

The alliance will develop toolbox talks on extreme temperatures and a case study on emerging workplace hazards, review existing Best Practice Facts Sheets with a focus on the use of seat belts in all ground support equipment, and incorporate ergonomic guidance in existing toolbox talks, case studies and other guidance resources.

"Our member airlines are very pleased with the progress that the OSHA Alliance with the Airline Ground Safety Panel has produced over the past seven years," said Airlines for America Vice President and Assistant General Counsel Rob DeLucia. "We look forward to continuing our voluntary, cooperative program with OSHA to further enhance employee safety with our labor union partners and the companies that service our aircraft."

"The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is committed to the mission of the Airline Ground Safety Alliance and appreciative to OSHA for bringing both labor and management together to address mutual safety concerns," said Mike Flynn, director, Occupational Safety and Health Department, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

AGSP comprises most major airlines, several regional airlines, representatives of trade unions and contractors for ground crew employees. The alliance agreement has been renewed for five years.
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.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

OSHA requests information on protecting workers performing communication tower construction, maintenance work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is requesting information from the public about worker safety hazards in communication tower construction and maintenance activities. The information will assist the agency in determining what measures to take to prevent worker injuries and fatalities.
Communication Tower infographic
Over the past 30 years, the growing demand for wireless and broadcast communications has spurred a dramatic increase in communication tower construction and maintenance. In order to erect or maintain communication towers, employee regularly climb anywhere from 100 to 2,000 feet. Communication tower workers face the risk of falls from great heights, structural collapses, electrical hazards, and hazards associated with inclement weather.

OSHA is requesting information from wireless carriers, tower workers, engineering and construction management firms, tower owners, and tower construction and maintenance companies about the causes of employee injuries and fatalities and for information about the best practices used by employers in the industry to address these hazards.

The deadline for submitting comments is June 15, 2015. Interested parties may submit comments and additional materials electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments may also be mailed or faxed. See the Federal Register notice for details.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Federal OSHA rejects inadequate fall prevention measures in Arizona's state-run occupational safety and health program

OSHA published a notice in the Feb. 6 Federal Register rejecting Arizona's residential construction fall protection standard. Arizona is one of 27 states and territories that operate their own occupational safety and health programs. State-run programs are required to be at least as effective as federal OSHA standards. The Arizona state legislature recently passed a statute that requires fall protection – specifically a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system – for fall hazards at a height of 15 feet or greater. Federal OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection whenever workers are exposed to a fall hazard at a height of six feet or more.

Because Arizona's fall protection statute is not as effective as federal OSHA's, the agency has the authority to assume control of the enforcement standards in the state's construction sector. The Federal Register notice stated that OSHA was deferring this action to allow time for the Arizona legislature to repeal its inadequate fall protection provision.

As a result of OSHA's Federal Register notice, Arizona's Department of Occupational Safety and Health took immediate action and deemed the state's inadequate standards automatically repealed. Arizona is now enforcing OSHA's residential construction fall protection requirements and is offering free training classes for affected employers. OSHA will continue to work with the state and monitor its enforcement of the fall protection standard.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Preventing Green Tobacco Sickness

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March 26, 2015

Labor Secretary announces bulletin on preventing green tobacco sickness

WASHINGTON — Dehydration, dizziness, headaches and vomiting are just a few of the symptoms of nicotine poisoning, also known as "green tobacco sickness." Workers who plant, cultivate and harvest tobacco are particularly at risk. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today announced the release of a recommended practices bulletin* with guidance on reducing the hazards for tobacco workers.
In recent years, the tobacco industry has undertaken voluntary efforts to curtail child labor in tobacco farming and increase protections for young workers. The department has collaborated also with state agencies, growers, farmers, manufacturers and others to increase education, training and protections for tobacco workers.

"The best way to protect people from on-the-job hazards is to prevent those hazards in the first place, and this bulletin outlines commonsense steps to reduce nicotine exposure and prevent heat illness," said Secretary Perez. "It's important that we continue to work with a wide array of stakeholders in order to find solutions that protect all workers."

Issued jointly by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the bulletin identifies serious health hazards related to work in tobacco fields, and steps employers can take to protect the health of farm workers. It also identifies vulnerable workers, including children and adolescents, who may be more sensitive to chemical exposure and more likely to suffer from green tobacco sickness, and who may suffer more serious health consequences than adults. The bulletin is available in English* and Spanish.*

Approximately 90 percent of domestic tobacco production occurs in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, the latter of which accounts for nearly half of all production. The department is committed to working with these states to protect the health and safety of young agricultural workers generally, including on tobacco farms.

Both OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division have conducted outreach and education in tobacco-producing states to highlight agricultural health and safety risks. These efforts include training sessions, grants, online and print publications, and an extensive outreach and compliance assistance program. In February, WHD Administrator Dr. David Weil and OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels met with tobacco manufacturers and buyers in North Carolina to discuss labor law compliance throughout the tobacco supply chain. They also met with worker advocates and representatives to discuss recommendations for improving working conditions in the industry.