January 2022 OSHA Quicktakes

Safety Achievement Recognition

OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program recognized a North Dakota asphalt plant where workers identified an unsafe trailer that was removed and replaced the same day.

Opp Construction’s asphalt plant provides asphalt and other gravel products to contractors in North Dakota. The company learned of OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program over seven years ago through the Association of General Contractor’s (AGC) Construction Safety Excellence Award’s process. Because of its continuous striving for safety excellence, its peers and mentors in the AGC awards program suggested that Opp Construction try consultation’s services.

During the first on-site visit from the North Dakota On-Site Consultation service in 2013, the safety consultant identified improperly labeled propane tanks, a compressed air hose with a radiator clamp, machine guarding hazards, and an unlabeled electrical panel. The company immediately corrected all the hazards by installing guards, placing required labels, retraining employees, and updating employee training in the areas of deficiency.

The company was motivated to continue improving worker safety and health after its first consultation visit. As management’s commitment to worker safety and health grew through participating in site audits and approving safety improvement suggestions, employees became more involved with their own workplace safety and health. The company’s practice of having frontline workers and management inspect the site for hazards and cleaning has become a standard operating procedure. Opp Construction has used the self-inspections as a learning and re-training tool on the importance of safety excellence, housekeeping, proper labeling, and training programs.

The company achieved Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) status in 2017 and renewed its status twice. SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used OSHA On-Site Consultation services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Small businesses that achieve SHARP status receive a deferral from OSHA or State Plan programmed inspections for the period that the SHARP designation is valid. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP is an achievement that identifies the employer as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.

The addition of a plant employee to the safety committee further improved the safety culture at the asphalt plant as it created and nurtured employee involvement. Employees are able to identify hazards and are assured that they will be corrected immediately. An example of this is when an employee recognized an unsafe trailer and submitted the finding to management. The hazard was corrected that day when the unsafe trailer was taken out of service and replaced. This allows employees the opportunity to visually observe management’s commitment. Additionally, Opp Construction’s asphalt plant has had zero recordable injuries since 2012.

According to Dave Opp, safety manager, “It is an honor and a great program to be involved in. I would recommend it to anyone who is able.”

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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.


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.


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.

Read More or See Quick Card


tornado recovery efforts

Tornado Recovery

In the aftermath of a tornado, workers may be involved in a variety of response and recovery operations. The following are general guidelines that may be applicable to workers involved in assessing and/or cleaning up the damage to their worksite. However, some operations, such as utility restoration, cleaning up spills of hazardous materials, and search and rescue, should only be conducted by workers who have the proper training, equipment and experience.

Potential Hazards

Response and recovery work in tornado-impacted areas presents safety and health hazards that should be properly identified, evaluated, and controlled in a systematic manner to reduce or eliminate occupational safety and health risks to response and recovery workers. Some of the specific hazards associated with working in the aftermath of tornadoes include:

  • Hazardous driving conditions due to slippery and/or blocked roadways
  • Slips and falls due to slippery walkways
  • Falling and flying objects such as tree limbs and utility poles
  • Sharp objects including nails and broken glass
  • Electrical hazards from downed power lines or downed objects in contact with power lines
  • Falls from heights
  • Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure
  • Exhaustion from working extended shifts
  • Heat and Dehydration.
General Precautions
  • Continue to monitor your local radio or television stations for emergency information and the potential of additional storms. Be aware of possible structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards.
  • If such hazards are identified, report them to the proper local authorities and/or utility.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed power lines.
  • Wear proper clothing when walking on or near debris, including boots and gloves.
  • Be careful around sharp objects, including nails and broken glass.
  • Use the proper safety precautions when operating generators, chainsaws, or other power tools.
  • Take steps to prevent heat illnesses and dehydration.

OSHA has resources to keep workers safe during tornado cleanup and recovery operations.

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