December 2021 OSHA Quicktakes

OSHA Leadership

On November 3, Douglas L. Parker was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Read his bio to learn about his commitment to protecting workers.

US Department of Labor urges Midwest employers to emphasize electrical safety after 4 workplace deaths in Missouri, Kansas

OSHA is urging Midwest employers to emphasize electrical safety after four workplace deaths in Missouri and Kansas.

Electrical hazards killed four workers in Missouri and Kansas in five months in 2021. In Missouri, on Oct. 4, a 40-year-old electrical contractor replacing light fixtures in Sedalia. On Sept. 23, a 22-year-old worker cleaning a Higbee pig barn with a pressure washer. In Wichita, Kansas, a 41-year-old doing heating and air conditioning work on July 13, and a month earlier, a 35-year-old electrical contractor climbing a pole in Lawrence, Kansas, on June 8. Their stories and circumstances may differ, but the cause of death is the same – electrocution.

While the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues its investigations of these employer-reported deaths, the agency is alerting all employers to review safe electrical work practices with their employees in response to a nationwide increase in workplace deaths by electrocution.

Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 3.75 percent increase – 166 workplace deaths related to electrocution – in 2019 over the previous year. From Nov. 6, 2018, through Oct. 3, 2021, OSHA investigated 12 electrical-related deaths in Missouri and Kansas.

“Recent tragedies in Missouri and Kansas are reminders of the danger of electrical exposures in the workplace,” said OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri. “OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees from electric shock and electrocution. Employers should implement safety and health programs, and are required to train workers on identifying hazards and use required protective measures to ensure all employees end each workday safely.”

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

worker being vaccinated
ETS Comment Period Extended

The deadline for comments on the Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19 vaccination and testing has been extended to Jan. 19, 2022, to allow more time for input from the public.

US Department of Labor extends comment period for COVID-19 vaccination
and testing emergency temporary standard

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has extended the comment period for the COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard to Jan. 19, 2022. OSHA extended the comment period by 45 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment.

Submit comments identified by Docket No. OSHA-2021-0007 electronically at https://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Follow the online instructions for making electronic submissions. The Federal e-Rulemaking Portal is the only way to submit comments on this rule. Read the Dec. 3, 2021 Federal Register notice for details.

On Nov. 5, OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from the spread of coronavirus on the job. The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees. Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. More information about the ETS is available on OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS webpage.

OSHA NEWSLETTER

New York On-Site Consultation Program Assists a concrete block manufacturer in reducing noise exposures

In response to a request, the New York State Department of Labor On-Site Consultation Program performed a visit to a concrete block manufacturer in March 2021 to evaluate noise exposures. The employer requested this visit to evaluate noise exposures for the operator of a block making machine and to receive recommendations on controls to reduce noise exposures for this employee and other workers in the immediate area of this machine.

During the consultation visit, the health consultant conducted noise sampling using a personal noise dosimeter to capture the noise exposure for the operator of the block making machine. Initial noise monitoring found that the operator was exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 98.4 decibels A-scale (dBA).

A concrete block manufacturer in New York reduced worker noise exposures with help from OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program.

While evaluating the employer’s injury and illness logs and its hearing conservation program, the consultant found that the operator’s most recent audiogram indicated that he experienced a Standard Threshold Shift (STS). This suggested that the hearing protectors used by the operator alone were not enough to protect his hearing. Based on the health consultant’s recommendations, the company had the operator wear double hearing protection (earplugs with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 33 and muffs with an NRR of 30) to protect the worker from this occupational noise hazard. NRR is a unit of measurement used to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection devices in decreasing sound exposure within a given working environment.

In addition to this personal protective equipment, the employer instituted engineering controls by installing noise reducing shields on the block maker. These shields were made from ⅜-inch-thick plexiglass with 3-inch-thick acoustical foam, placed between the block making machine and the operator’s position. The shields were lightweight and easily removable to facilitate mold changes and other work on the block maker.

After the installation of these engineering controls, follow-up noise monitoring using noise dosimeters found that the operator’s full shift TWA exposure dropped significantly from 98.4 to 92.0 dBA with the shields installed. In an effort to reduce the noise levels further, the company is continuing to work with the New York On-Site Consultation Program on additional improvements to the noise shields and other engineering controls.

The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards and how to fix them, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, train and educate workers, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from OSHA enforcement efforts and do not result in penalties or citations. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit https://www.osha.gov/Consultation.

OSHA NEWSLETTER

retail worker wearing mask to prevent spread of Covid-19
US Department of Labor reminds employers to avoid compliance issues by ensuring worker safety, proper pay practices this holiday season

WASHINGTON – With the National Retail Federation expecting retailers to hire more than 500,000 seasonal workers and employers hopeful for a busy holiday season, the U.S. Department of Labor reminds them not to overlook their worker’s rights to a safe and healthy workplace and to be paid all of their legally earned wages. With many businesses open for in-person shopping in 2021, employers must also take steps to control and prevent coronavirus spread.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges employers to ensure it properly trains all workers – especially new and seasonal workers – to recognize and prevent workplace hazards. OSHA offers resources on holiday workplace safety for warehousing, delivery and retail workers. Guidance is also available for protecting retail workers, including those in high customer-volume environmentsstockrooms and loading docks, and package delivery from coronavirus exposure.

OSHA offers additional information on workers’ rights and protections, the protection of temporary and seasonal workers, as well as safety for young workers.

“The holiday season is typically a very busy time for businesses, and just as consumer demands increase, so must an employer’s awareness of keeping their employees safe,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Safety and Health Doug Parker. “All workers – from those starting their first job to those making some extra money as a seasonal worker to those year-round employees – are entitled to a workplace free from hazards and to be trained in a language they understand to recognize and prevent hazards.”

The department also encourages employers, especially those unfamiliar with seasonal and part-time hiring, to familiarize themselves with federal wage rules to make sure they pay temporary and seasonal workers all of the wages they earned, and as the law requires. The Wage and Hour Division finds failing to pay salespeople and cashiers for time spent prepping or closing out registers, requiring stock room and warehouse personnel to work through breaks without pay, and not paying workers overtime pay when required are among the most common violations cited in holiday employment investigations.

“This holiday season, and all year round, workers deserve dignity and respect from their employers,” said Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “Employers should ensure their payroll practices comply with all minimum wage, overtime and child labor requirements so those who depend on their wages to care for themselves and their families are able to benefit from their hard work.”

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

individual using snowblower on city sidewalk
Winter Weather Safety - Make sure workers are protected from cold stress and other winter weather hazards

Winter weather presents hazards including slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and environmental cold. Employers must prevent illnesses, injuries, or fatalities, by controlling these hazards in workplaces impacted by winter weather.

OSHA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working together on a public education effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather. This page is designed to help businesses and their workers prepare for winter weather, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face during and after winter storms.

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OSHA NEWSLETTER

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Katie Kassel
Author: Katie Kassel

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