Making Workers Safer around the Nation

Occupational Hazards, February 2005 | Go to article overview

Making Workers Safer around the Nation


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)--osha.gov--has published a final rule that requires federal government agencies to adopt worker safety and health record-keeping and reporting requirements that are essentially identical to the private sector.

While the regulation was effective Jan. 1, 2005, notices of violations will not be issued during the first year as long as agencies are making a reasonable effort to comply with the requirements, according to OSHA, which added that the agency will launch an outreach and compliance assistance effort to educate and train federal agencies on the new recording requirements.

Also new from OSHA are:

* Plans to update OSHA standards that reference or include language from outdated consensus standards. The first rulemaking involves a direct final rule to revoke references found in standards on Temporary Labor Camps, Guarding of Portable Power tools, Sawmills, Flammable and Combustible Liquids, and Arc Welding and Cutting. (See the "Washington Watch" column in this issue for more information.)

* Proposed standards that cover exposure to hexavalent chromium in general industry, construction and shipyards. In addition to lowering the permissible exposure limit for the compound, the proposals include provisions for worker protection, including preferred methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, and record-keeping.

An online guide to introduce employers and workers in general industry to the agency's compliance assistance resources. The "Quick Start" guide" identifies many of the major OSHA requirements and guidance materials that may apply in individual workplaces, providing a basic foundation for compliance.

* Two new videos--"Listening to Small Business" and "Work Smart, Be Safe: An Orientation to Long Term Care Safety." The first video features six small businesses that have worked with the agency to implement safety and health programs. The second covers the basics in long-term care workplace safety, including housekeeping issues (e.g., blood spills, laundry) and lifting. The programs are available online in streaming video in English and Spanish.

* Also for small businesses is a free, on-site consultation program to help them establish cooperative working relationships with the agency. Details are available on OSHA's website.

* A Safety and Health Bulletin on Logger Boots to prevent fatal accidents associated with mislabeled steel-toe boots. This advisory came after a manufacturer reported that its boots may have been mislabeled to indicate that they were resistant to electrical current; the company recalled some 10,000 pairs of the boots.

From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)--cdc.gov/niosh--are:

For all industrial sectors--

* Two new eye safety web pages. They provide access to NIOSH eye-safety resources, including general guidance on eye safety for infection control. This is an area of increasing importance to a number of worker groups such as animal care/control workers, rescue and recovery workers, and workers involved in transportation from SARS-endemic areas, in addition to health-care workers. For more information, contact Larry Jackson at Iljackson@cdc.gov.

* The Worker Health Chartbook 2004 (DHHS [NIOSH] Publication No. 2004-146), which is available in hard-copy form (email pubstaff@cdc.gov or call 800-356-8573). The Chartbook consolidates information from the U.S. network of injury and illness surveillance tracking systems, and is designed for those interested in numbers of and trends in occupational injuries and illnesses.

* Easy Ergonomics: A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools; the guide was issued jointly with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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* Nanotechnology Workplace Safety and Health DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. …

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