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OSHA News for Industry

Aurora, Illinois Area Office

Volume 1, Number 1


Joining the Aurora Area Office construction newsletter is the first issue of our new General Industry newsletter. Our goal is to issue the industry newsletter twice a year. Please direct any comments or suggestions to Area Director Charlie Shields, 630-896-8700, charlie.shields@aurora.osha.gov. We welcome additional E-mail subscribers.

1. OSHA Leadership - Charles Jeffress was confirmed as the new Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA by a Senate voice vote on 10/30/97. Mr. Jeffress was head of the North Carolina state OSHA plan for the past five years or so, and he knows the OSHA program inside and out. He was sworn in on November 12, 1997. In a visit to the Cincinnati OSHA office, he advised the staff that two high priorities were ergonomics and safety and health program standard.

2. OSHA Strategic Plan - In conformance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, OSHA has developed a five-year Strategic Plan. OSHA and other agencies must now show Congress results for budget monies expended. Three hazards (lead poisoning, silicosis, amputations) and five industries have been targeted (construction, nursing homes, logging, shipbuilding, and food processing). The goal is to show a 15% reduction in injuries/illnesses in these targets in five years. The Strategic Plan document can be found on the OSHA home page www.osha.gov under "What's New."

3. Cooperative Compliance Program - The CCP is here! This is the national version of the successful Maine 200 and Wisconsin 200 type programs. Based on lost workday injury/illness rate data gathered as part of OSHA's data initiative project, the CCP targets a "Top 500" establishment list for traditional comprehensive wall-to-wall inspections. Other employers in the program will be offered the chance to participate by implementing effective safety and health programs; employers agreeing to participate will be placed in a lower inspection priority. In addition, CCP participants who are making good progress should have a shorter OSHA inspection with fewer violations and lower penalties.

Here is the CCP schedule:

11/20/97 directive signed

11/21/97 establishment data sent to OSHA offices

11/26/97 Top 500 inspections can begin

12/5/97 notifications sent to potential CCP participants

1/5-16/98 outreach sessions for potential participants

1/30/98 participant agreements due

5/1/98 participant inspections can begin

4. Ergonomics - OSHA continues to address ergonomics hazards. The Aurora office recently completed an ergonomics complaint investigation in a health care facility, with a general duty clause citation issued concerning hazards associated with resident handling and transferring. The case was settled at the informal conference and is significant to us because the employer agreed to implement an ergonomics program.

Due to a Congressional budget restriction, the earliest a proposed standard could be published is October 1998. However, ergonomics is expected to play a large role in the CCP, as the CCP list has a number of facilities where ergonomic hazards significantly contribute to elevated LWDII rates.

5. TB Standard - The notice of proposed rulemaking for a tuberculosis standard was published on 10/17/97. Approximately 100,000 establishments would be covered by this regulation, including hospitals, long term care facilities, correctional facilities, hospices, homeless shelters, drug treatment facilities, facilities where high hazard procedures are performed, laboratories that handle TB specimens/cultures, emergency medical services, home health care, and home hospice care. Social workers, welfare services, teachers, law enforcement, and legal services working in these settings or in residences where there is suspected/confirmed TB are also proposed to be covered. As the first step in the rulemaking process, OSHA is asking for comments on the proposal, which are due to the docket office by 12/16/97. Hearings are scheduled to begin on 2/3/98 in Washington, DC.

6. Forklift operator training standard - The Semiannual Regulatory Agenda has a final rule publication date of December 1997 listed. There may be some slippage of this date, possibly to as late as June 1998. The final version of the Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training rule is very similar to the draft rule.

7. Recordkeeping - The final recordkeeping rule is scheduled to be published in June 1998, with an implementation date of 1/1/99.

8. Methylene chloride - This final rule was published on 1/9/97, and the effective date for most of the standard has been postponed several times. The latest extension of start-up dates was published 10/20/97, delaying an effective date for "all other employers" to 12/21/97, with no change on initial monitoring and engineering control effective dates. As this is beginning to be a complicated situation, please see the Federal Register for full details. Call us for the Federal Register, or check the OSHA home page under "Federal Register Notices."

9. Respirator standard - The final rule is planned for publication in December. A companion rule on assigned protection factors will not be issued at the same time, but will hopefully come out in 1998.

10. Fall Protection in General Industry - In construction employment, harnesses will be mandatory on 1/1/98 and belts will be prohibited for fall arrest. We are frequently asked, "Does general industry have a similar requirement?"

Fall protection regulations for industry have not been updated and do not explicitly address acceptable means of limiting fall forces. In the absence of regulations to limit fall forces, Aurora OSHA will use the fall protection equipment manufacturer's guidelines to determine if acceptable protection is in place. For example, we have issued citations for warehouse employees order picking from elevated storage racks from a forklift platform, walking off the platform into the racks with no fall protection. Under the general duty clause we have required fall protection systems limiting fall arresting forces to manufacturers' recommendations of 900 pounds for a body belt and 1800 pounds for a harness. Almost all the manufacturers use these numbers, for they are the same as the OSHA construction standard and the ANSI standard. Had the order picker worn a deficient fall arrest system in this example, we would cite 1910.132(c) for inadequate personal protection for the work to be performed.

11. Silicosis Emphasis Program - We are continuing this program in FY-1998, focusing on eliminating employee exposures to silica dust in both construction and general industry. So far, most of the Aurora inspections have been on construction job sites, with excessive silica exposures from tuckpointing, masonry block cutting, concrete cutting, and jack hammering found. A $17K citation was issued to one tuckpointing (power grinding) firm with silica exposure 800 times the permissible limit.

In OSHA Region 5, the greatest number of industrial silica overexposures have been in foundries, clay refractory manufacture, wall and floor tile manufacture, stone cutting, and metal finishing. The metal finishing exposures were from sandblasting on metal. The Peoria office found one sandblasting operation 300 times the permissible limit; this operation was able to correct the problem by substituting aluminum oxide for sand and by automating/enclosing/ventilating the process.

12. Power Press Guarding - This national program aims to improve press guarding and reduce amputations and injuries. Locally, we have investigated a few amputations in the past five years, but inspections under the emphasis program are revealing more amputation cases than before. Inspection of targeted employers began 7/1/97. Frequent findings in the first few months of OSHA inspections include lack of press inspections, deficient point of operation guarding, and unprotected foot pedals.

We continue to do power press presentations for various organizations and have an excellent, knowledgeable speaker in George Yoksas. Employer/employee associations please call if interested (Aurora's northwestern Illinois territory only).

We recommend you take the following actions on power presses:

a. Review the point of operation guarding on the power press. If barrier guards are used, be sure that the openings in the guards conform to table O-10 of 1910.217 and that no one could reach over, under, around, or through the guard. Be sure the fasteners for the guards are adequate and not easily removed. These are some of our most frequent machine guarding violations.

b. Guard foot pedals from unintended activation! Most companies are able to fabricate their own foot pedal guards. It is important that at least three sides be guarded.

c. Establish and implement a power press inspection program. All parts of the press must be inspected periodically. Most companies do this on a monthly or quarterly basis. The clutch/brake mechanism, anti-repeat and single stroke mechanisms must be inspected at least weekly.

d. On all power presses, check the distance from the two hand control or trip to the point of operation. We use a hand speed constant of 63 inches per second to determine the safe distance. You can evaluate this factor through measurements made by a stop time meter for part revolution clutch presses, or by using the formula in 1910.217 for full revolution clutch presses. You can be certain that OSHA will ask you how you located the two hand controls/trips on your power presses. Most companies have no idea if their systems are located a safe distance from the point of operation.

e. It may be prudent for companies with older power press safety packages to evaluate their systems. Early this year we investigated a press accident in which an employee lost three fingers on a press where a 1975 control reliability/brake monitoring/light curtain system malfunctioned.

13. EZ Trial - We had our first hearing by EZ Trial in October. A company can elect this streamlined court proceeding for easier, less expensive litigation of OSHA citations. This EZ Trial case was scheduled quickly; after being contested on 7/16/97, the hearing was held two months later on 10/15/97. Department of Labor Solicitors prepared for this hearing the same as they would for any hearing, except there are no discovery procedures under EZ Trial. The company represented itself without an attorney, and the hearing was in a regular courtroom with a court reporter. We received the decision favorable to OSHA on 11/21/97. The "Serious" trenching violation was affirmed, and the penalty the judge assessed was actually higher than OSHA's earlier settlement proposal. Similarly, the Chicago North OSHA office had an EZ Trial about a month earlier than Aurora's first case, and the Repeat violation was affirmed at full penalty.

14. Carbon Monoxide - Winter means carbon monoxide overexposure season to OSHA industrial hygienists. Factory doors and windows are shut and ceiling/wall exhaust fans are turned off, leading to an indoor buildup of combustion products.

OSHA offices get numerous complaint calls every year concerning excessive carbon monoxide exposure. Furnaces are often suspected as the source of carbon monoxide, but this is rarely the case. Our typical complaint investigation is at a warehouse or factory with a number of gasoline or propane powered forklifts operating. Forklifts may be poorly maintained, be older units with poor engine seals, or be tuned by ear not by an emissions device. Telltale health symptoms include numerous employees experiencing severe headaches, nausea, and low energy levels every day.

In some cases the carbon monoxide exposure is enough to send employees to the hospital and shut down the facility. We already had one call in October where a local firm sent about 50 people complaining of headaches and nausea to the hospital. Blood gases were done on some individuals, and carboxyhemoglobin results were as high as 20-22%. In the past, OSHA has used carboxyhemoglobin measurements to calculate carbon monoxide exposure, and has based citations on this data. Often the exposures have averaged 100 - 200 PPM for the day (the 8-hour average limit being 50 PPM).

The potential fixes are many: carbon monoxide detectors, preventive maintenance on forklifts, additional fresh air ventilation, tune up performed using emissions measuring devices, install carbon monoxide detectors in combination with automatic ventilating units when CO levels exceed a certain threshold, electric forklifts, install catalytic converters on the lifts (in theory catalytic converters could cause oxides of nitrogen and other air contaminant problems, but in practice we have never seen this happen), and rebuild/replace old forklifts.

We recommend that you take the initial step of determining the exposure in your establishment. Take some carbon monoxide measurements in your facility, or better yet, install carbon monoxide detectors. In addition to preserving the health and morale of your employees, you may save potential medical bills, plant shutdown, and media coverage from sending a group of workers to the hospital.

15. Waubonsee Safety Day - We are holding an industrial safety and health seminar at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL on March 25, 1998. Our target audience is small business, and 25 different one hour sessions aimed at an introductory/intermediate level will be given. Please call John Newquist or Julie Evans at 630-896-8700 if interested. Cost is only $10 per person.



1. 1910.212(a)(1) general machine guarding
2. 1910.1200(h) hazard communication training
3. 1910.1200(e)(1) hazard communication program
4. 1910.151(c) body shower/eyewash
5. 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) point of operation guarding
6. 1910.215(b)(9) grinder safety guard
7. 1910.23(c)(1) guardrails on platforms
8. 1910.147(c)(4)(ii) specific lockout procedures
9. 1910.147(c)(1) lockout program
10. 1910.147(c)(7) lockout training

Explanation of Aurora Frequently Cited Serious Violations

General: Taken as a group, our citations were concentrated in three main areas - machine guarding, lockout, and hazard communication. Are your programs in good shape in these areas?

1. General machine guarding - This standard is used for a variety of machine hazards, including rotating lathe chucks, unused portions of metal saw blades, feed rolls, head and tail pulleys on a conveyor, hold downs on shears, and reciprocating parts projecting into work areas.

2. Hazard communication training - Since hazard communication is covered on every inspection, this type of violation is cited frequently. This standard took effect 11 years ago. Many companies did training years ago, but have not done much since and missed training new employees.

3. Hazard communication program - Deficiencies are a combination of two things. Employers have lost programs that they implemented years ago, and a number of companies we inspected for the first time did not have a program. This program deficiency appears high on our list because it is often grouped as a serious violation with hazcom training or material safety data sheets.

4. Body shower/eyewash - This is almost always cited for the lack of an eyewash, not a shower. Where corrosives are used, problems include lack of a 15 minute supply of flushing solution (an ANSI standard requirement) or an unacceptable route from exposure to eyewash such as around conveyors or through doors to the eyewash.

5. Point of operation guarding - Hydraulic presses, shear blades, pneumatic powered machines, roll formers, injection molders, riveters, and press welders are some of the machines that were cited for inadequate or no point of operation guarding.

6. Grinder safety guard - There are lots of abrasive wheel grinders out there that do not have a tongue guard or an improperly adjusted tongue guard.

7. Guardrails on platforms - Many sites have frequently accessed storage areas located on top of foremen's offices in the middle of the plant. Few of these have guardrails to protect an employee from falling.

8. Specific lockout procedures - The standard requires that lockout procedures specific to the machine or the type of machine be developed. Many companies have generic programs but have failed to evaluate energy source hazards, develop procedures, and communicate this information to employees.

Five years ago, a company in our territory with a generic lockout program had a fatality. After examining the deficiencies in that program and our enforcement efforts, we determined that we needed to emphasize energy source evaluations and specific lockout procedures for a machine/class of machine. We have not had a lockout fatality since that time, but have investigated amputations.

Also, in our opinion the eight point exception to procedures in 1910.147(c)(4) is extremely difficult to meet, and we have been able to successfully argue this point with employers.

9. Lockout program - As with hazard communication, some of the companies we inspected for the first time had no program whatsoever.

10. Lockout training - This is often cited for production employees who are exposed to machine hazards while setting up or unjamming machinery. On our inspections, we have observed line employees and maintenance staff exposed to energy source hazards without locking out. Some of these citations were for injuries or amputations.



Standard Initial penalty

1. 1910.23(c)(1) guardrails on platforms $99K
2. Section 5(a)(1) general duty clause $97K
3. 1910.120(q)(1) chem emergency response plan $71K
4. 1910.147(c)(8) unauthorized employee lockout $59K
5. 1910.212(a)(1) general machine guarding $62K
6. 1910.147(c)(7)(I)(a) lockout training $28K
7. 1910.1200(h) hazcom training $25K
8. 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) point of operation guarding $24K
9. 1910.147(c)(4)(ii) specific lockout procedures $23K
10. 1910.151© body shower/eyewash $20K

Comments about the high penalty items:

General comment - For the Aurora office, proposed penalties totaled $1.04 Million for the year for general industry employers (construction proposed penalties were about the same, a total of $1.1 Million). Often, the top penalized items in industry were due to high proposed penalties on willful violations.

1. Guardrails - Fall protection for platforms came close to 10% of all penalties. One violation issued as willful accounted for $70K. Fall protection is a priority for general industry as well as construction. A couple years ago the Aurora office had more general industry fall fatalities than construction fall fatalities. These fatal industry incidents occurred between heights of four and ten feet; often the death was caused by the employee striking his head on nearby machinery during the fall.

2. General Duty clause - One $70K violation for a molten metal hazard constituted most of this penalty total. There were 11 general duty violations, and the only patterns discernible were for fall hazards (three violations) and molten metal hazards (two violations).

3. Hazwoper Emergency Response plan - Only a couple of these violations were issued. The high penalty total was because one of these was a $70K willful violation.

4, 6, and 9. Lockout - Lockout violations in the top ten penalized list totaled $110K. Using other data not shown in the table, all lockout penalties for the office totaled $158K, or about 16% of our total proposed general industry penalties. This is a real area of emphasis, see previous discussion for frequently cited violation table.

Numbers 5 and 8. Machine guarding - These violations were in the top ten penalty total because of the number issued and higher gravity of this type of item. The average penalty was about $1200.

Number 7. Hazard Communication training - There were lots of these, but the average penalty was low (around $400 each).

Number 10. Body shower/eyewash - See explanation in Frequently Cited section.

Comments, suggestions for future articles, questions:



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