March 1, 2013 • Volume 12, Issue 5
A twice monthly e-news product with information about workplace safety and health.
Hazard Communication resources available to help employers comply with new training and labeling requirements
Two new compliance assistance resources are available for employers to assist them in meeting the requirements of OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard. A new fact sheet (PDF*) discusses the training topics that employers must cover for the initial Dec. 1, 2013 deadline. By this date, employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet format. In addition, a new OSHA brief (PDF*) explains the new labeling elements, identifies what goes on a label, and describes what pictograms are and how to use them. The brief also provides manufacturers, importers, distributors and other employers with a step-by-step guide to create a label that meets the requirements of the revised standard. The deadline for adopting the new labels and pictograms is June 1, 2015.
OSHA's updated standard, which is aligned with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The revised standard is improving the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. Additional information and resources are available on OSHA's Hazard Communications page.
OSHA concludes fatality investigation at San Francisco VA Medical Center research laboratory, issues violation notices
OSHA has issued a notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions to the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center after concluding its investigation into the death of Richard Din, a research associate at the center's research laboratory in April 2012. The notice consists of three serious violations for failing to protect laboratory workers researching Neisseria meningitidis, a bacterium that can cause meningitis.
The three serious violations include failure to require workers to use a safety enclosure when performing microbiological work with a viable bacteria culture; provide training on the signs and symptoms of illnesses as a result of employee exposure to a viable bacteria culture, such as meningitis; and provide available vaccines for workers potentially exposed to bacteria. 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. For more information, read the news release.
OSHA cites 3 companies after combustible dust flash fire claims lives of 2 workers at Texas work site
OSHA has cited Watco Mechanical Services, Jordan General Contractors Inc. and JP Electric after a combustible dust flash fire claimed the lives of two workers at a Hockley work site. OSHA began its investigation Aug. 19, 2012, at the Watco Mechanical Services work site where workers were conducting blasting operations in the facility's tank and hopper building. Employees were cutting metal with a torch when a fire broke out, killing two workers employed by Magnolia, Texas-based Jordan General Contractors.
The three companies were cited a total of 22 violations, including failing to adequately control fugitive emissions of combustible dust; develop and implement a respiratory program; provide training on the hazards of working with combustible dust; and ensure cutting operations are halted in the presence of combustible dust. Proposed penalties for the three companies total $119,840. See the news release for more information.
New OSHA Web page warns of hydrogen sulfide exposure
OSHA's new Hydrogen Sulfide Web page warns employers and workers of the dangerous health effects from breathing hydrogen sulfide and provides methods for controlling exposure to this toxic gas.
Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, is a colorless and highly flammable gas produced in industries such as mining, oil and gas refining, and paper and pulp processing. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate H2S caused 60 worker deaths between 2001 and 2010. The effects on workers' health depend on how much of the gas workers breathe but symptoms can range from headaches, nausea and fatigue to respiratory tract irritation, unconsciousness and death. The Web page explains how training and the use of exhaust/ventilation systems and personal protective equipment can protect workers from harmful H2S exposure.
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