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Cal/OSHA Adopts Landmark Communicable Disease Protections

(From the CAL-OSHA Reporter, 05/21/09)

SAN DIEGO -- In a move universally supported by stakeholders in a packed meeting this morning, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted two first-in-the-nation standards to protect workers in health care and an array of other workplace settings from diseases that can be spread by coughing and sneezing, and from animals.

OSHA: Inadequate Machine Guarding Caused Worker's Death

An OSHA investigation of the death of a worker at Sulzer Metco Coatings, a Barboursville, West Virginia coatings plant, found that the lathe machinery involved in the incident was not properly guarded. OSHA cited the company for this as well as for a number of other serious violations including blocked exit routes, lack of proper fire protection equipment and training, lack of a hazard communication program, unsafe levels of noise and for not providing adequate means to ensure supplied air for respirators is of breathing quality.

OSHA to Crack Down on Fraudulent and Sub-Standard Training

Federal OSHA announced yesterday that they are taking steps to crack down on fraudulent and inadequate training performed under their Outreach Training Program. This program allows trainers to become certified to teach 10 hour and 30 hour OSHA training programs. Recent investigations in New York city found that some certified trainers were fraudulently issuing certification cards to people who had not completed the training course, while others offered classes that failed to meet minimum quality standards.

Roofing company hit with $79,000 fine for Fall Hazards

OSHA has proposed a total of $79,000 in fines for a Massachusetts roofing company for 16 violations of fall hazard-related standards.

Unions Urge OSHA to Enforce Swine Flu Worker Protections

The AFL-CIO sent a letter to acting OSHA Director Jordan Barab expressing their concern about worker exposures to the H1N1 virus. The letter stated:

"We request that OSHA immediately issue a hazard alert and/or compliance directive that makes clear that exposure to the novel H1N1 virus in healthcare settings and emergency response activities poses a recognized hazard to workers and requires protective measures."

Read more here.

CAL-OSHA Criticized for Weak Fines

Some California legislators are questioning the common practice by the California OSHA Appeals Board of drastically cutting fines after appeals by employers. The state Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations is hearing testimony about the issue. Marta Guzman of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation told the Senate committee that cutting fines has amounted to "a slap on the hand" for companies. In one case, $13,500 in fines issued were cut to $250 for a labor contractor after a worker died of heat stress in 2005.

Another teen worker killed on the job

Seventeen year old Miguel Herrera died on Friday when the forklift he was operating at an Omaha, Nebraska meat processing plant tipped over. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits youth under age 18 from operating forklifts in non-agricultural industries.

Fall Death of 15 Year Old Brings $23,800 OSHA fine

Despite being only 15 years old, Luis Montoya was able to get a job on a highly hazardous demolition job site in the Atlanta area last year. According to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in an incident last November:

"Witnesses said Montoya was tossing debris from the third floor to the ground floor when he lost his balance and toppled through an empty escalator shaft. He fell about 40 feet."

Massachusetts to Provide OSHA Protections to State Employees

Governor Patrick commemorates Workers' Memorial Day with executive order
extending workplace protections to state employees

Nevada: 12 Construction Deaths, Meager Response

According to an article in yesterday's Las Vegas Sun, state Senator Maggie Carlton's efforts to reform the Nevada OSHA program are likely to produce little action. It seems that Senator Carlton and the family members of those killed in the spate of construction disasters in Las Vegas over the past two years are the only people who are concerned about the issue. Carlton's proposal to take Nevada OSHA out of the Business and Industry Department, where it had been subject to undue influence preventing it from effectively enforcing standards, has died a quiet death.

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