OSHA files petition against SeaWorld to comply with subpoenas during inspections

 

US Department of Labor’s OSHA files petition against SeaWorld of Florida to comply with subpoenas during follow-up inspection

ORLANDO, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has filed a petition against SeaWorld of Florida LLC to comply with administrative subpoenas that require SeaWorld to provide three managers to be interviewed during OSHA’s follow-up abatement inspection. SeaWorld has declined to provide personnel to answer questions regarding abatement or correction of a prior violation related to trainers’ exposure to struck-by and drowning hazards when engaged in performances with killer whales.

“The employee testimony for the follow-up abatement inspection, required by a subpoena, allows OSHA inspectors to determine if SeaWorld employees continue to be exposed to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Abating safety and health hazards in the workplace needs to be as important to an employer as recognizing the hazards in the first place.”

The follow-up inspection is being conducted as a result of previous violations that OSHA identified after a February 2010 drowning of a trainer who was grabbed and pulled under the water by a six-ton killer whale during what SeaWorld described as a “relationship session.” In August 2010, OSHA issued SeaWorld citations related to the incident. SeaWorld contested OSHA’s proposed violations and penalties.

A trial was held by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, and in June an administrative law judge upheld OSHA’s citations against SeaWorld. Subsequently, SeaWorld was required to abate cited hazards, including those specifically related to trainers working in proximity to the killer whales. However, since the order went into effect, SeaWorld has filed a petition with the review commission seeking additional time to abate the violation regarding trainers’ interaction with killer whales. SeaWorld maintains that the petition, which is pending resolution, should restrict the scope of OSHA’s follow-up inspection.

The enforcement action has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle of Florida, Orlando Division by the department’s Atlanta Regional Solicitor’s Office.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov

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Spill Response Preparation

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Spill Response Preparation
by Trevor Reschny, CSP

The other day I had a conversation with someone who was confused about the spill response training he needed for his operation. The first person he talked to said he needed 40 hours of training; the next person told him he needed 24 hours. Then he read about other training that requires only eight hours or less. So what does OSHA require and, more importantly, what is best for your operation?

While it’s best not to spill anything, the potential for a spill or release of chemicals always exists. Your incident response might involve anything from a mop-and-bucket cleanup to an area evacuation with fully encapsulating chemical-resistant suits and self-contained breathing apparatus. Of course your staff training requirements could vary from just minutes to several days.

A mistake many people make when it comes to safety in general is to first conduct training. In actuality the first thing to do is to anticipate and evaluate the types of emergency situations you face. For example, a sheet metal shop may have small quantities of solvents, gasses and oils. On the other hand a large refrigeration warehouse may have tens of thousands of pounds of ammonia (a toxic inhalation hazard).

Many factors will dictate the level of response needed. These include the types and quantities of the materials at your site, the types of processes being conducted, the availability of local emergency resources, and the potential impact on your employees and the community.

An important thing to remember is that just because you handle chemicals or might need to respond to chemical spills, does not necessarily mean you have to invest a lot of training and equipment. That does not mean however, that a significant investment may be warranted in some cases. You must first anticipate and evaluate the types of emergency situations you face.

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What is HAZWOPER?

After anticipating and evaluating the potential emergency situations for your operations, the next step is to look at OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.120, also known as the HAZWOPER standard. This standard establishes the safety and health requirements for “emergency response operations for release of, or substantial threats of releases of, hazardous substances without regard to the location of the hazard.”

When reading the HAZWOPER standard you’ll notice that the bulk of the standard (Sections b through p) covers hazardous waste operations such as clean-up procedures at hazardous waste sites or operations involving hazardous waste at treatment, storage and disposal facilities. Only the final section of the standard, Section q, covers emergency response.

When researching HAZWOPER issues or choosing a training provider, it is important that you address the appropriate issues. It is not uncommon for people to enroll in a HAZWOPER class to learn about spill response only to find out later that the class focuses on hazardous waste sites.

What is a Hazardous Substance?

When it comes to chemicals, a variety of definitions for “hazardous” exist. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is concerned with the hazards of materials in transport and orients its definitions of hazardous toward air transportation and other specific transport concerns. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned with the impact on the environment when materials are released or disposed and makes hazardous determinations based on environmental and human health risks.

OSHA is concerned with the hazards of materials to which workers might be exposed in the workplace. Any chemical that might present a health or physical hazard is defined as a hazardous chemical under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Health hazards include any adverse health effect from irritants to corrosives or carcinogens.

The HAZWOPER standard applies to releases of hazardous substances. Although it is an OSHA standard, it does not use the Hazard Communication Standard for hazardous chemicals. The HAZWOPER standard traces its origin to an EPA law, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund), and derives its definition of hazardous substances from CERCLA regulations. The CERCLA definition is based on the substance’s potential impact on the environment and the community.

The basic idea is to include chemicals that would present a significant hazard to people or the environment if spilled or released. Chemicals that do not fall into one of these categories might still present a slight hazard to employees and emergency responders, but technically do not trigger HAZWOPER requirements.

Training Requirements

The HAZWOPER standard establishes five basic training requirements related to chemical emergency response:

1. First Responder Awareness Level

2. First Responder Operations Level

3. Hazardous Materials Technician

4. Hazardous Materials Specialist

5. On-Scene Incident Commander

First Responder “Awareness” Level training is required for individuals who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release and who would take no action beyond notification of the proper authorities. Even if you do not have a spill team and do not plan to respond to spill emergencies, your employees might need First Responder Awareness Level training. This training potentially could include everyone from the machine operator to the security guard.

First Responder “Operations” Level training is required for individuals who respond to releases or potential releases as part of the initial response. They are trained to respond in a defensive manner to protect people, property and the environment. Defensive actions are those taken from a safe distance to keep the spill from spreading and to prevent exposures. Examples include covering drains, placing spill booms or barriers and barricading access points, all from safe distances.

Hazardous Materials “Technician” training is required for individuals who will respond to the release or potential release for the purpose of stopping the release. In other words, they are responding in an offensive manner. They usually will be close to the source of the release and, therefore, have a high potential for harmful exposures. Examples include over packing a leaking drum or collecting contaminated absorbents.

The investment in training, as well as in procedures and equipment, substantially increases when moving up to the “Technician” level of response. Technician level calls for at least 24 hours of training. Personnel also must demonstrate competency in several areas, including the emergency response plan, instrumentation, the incident command system, selection and use of personal protective equipment, hazard and risk assessment, containment and control, decontamination, termination procedures and basic chemistry and toxicology.

Hazardous Materials “Specialist” training is similar to the Hazardous Materials Technician training. The specialist however, is required to have greater knowledge of the chemicals to which he or she might respond, as well as to act as a liaison with governmental authorities. He or she also provides support to the hazardous materials technician. Again, at least twenty-four hours of training is required.

On-Scene Incident Commander training is required for any response beyond the First Responder Awareness Level. The role of the incident commander is to assume control of the incident scene. The incident commander must be someone on-site who is designated and trained to be in charge of the incident. The required training will vary with the level and complexity of the response. The minimum required training is 24 hours.

Remember, like all OSHA requirements, these training requirements are a minimum. Based on the nature of your facility and its hazards, additional training may be necessary. It is also important for each emergency responder to stay current. With that said all levels of HAZWOPER training requires annual refresher training or a demonstration of competency.

By allowing a HazMat team to respond to nonemergency spills, a facility provides an excellent way to maintain skills that would be needed in an emergency. Whatever you choose to do, you must remember to document the training and competency evaluations.

If you have any questions regarding Hazwoper training or if you would like to book a Hazwoper class at your site go to https://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/environmental-hazwoper.

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U.S. DOT Proposes New Standard to Improve Vehicle Safety

A new standard that would capture safety-related data seconds before and during a vehicle crash was proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Friday. This new rule would require automakers to install event data recorders (EDRs) in all light passenger vehicles beginning September 1, 2014. The EDRs are devices that record specific safety-related data.

“By understanding how drivers respond in a crash and whether key safety systems operate properly, NHTSA and automakers can make our vehicles and our roadways even safer,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This proposal will give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives.”

The NHTSA estimates that almost all 2013 vehicles already have EDRs installed. A car or airbag usually triggers the EDR and collects data in the seconds before and during a crash.

Some of the data recorded include:

  • vehicle speed;
  • whether the brake was activated in the moments before a crash;
  • crash forces at the moment of impact;
  • information about the state of the engine throttle;
  • air bag deployment timing and air bag readiness prior to the crash; and
  • whether the vehicle occupant’s seat belt was buckled.

“EDRs provide critical safety information that might not otherwise be available to NHTSA to evaluate what happened during a crash — and what future steps could be taken to save lives and prevent injuries,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “A broader EDR requirement would ensure the agency has the safety-related information it needs to determine what factors may contribute to crashes across all vehicle manufacturers.”

The new safety regulation proposed today would require EDRs as mandatory equipment in passenger vehicles that weigh less than 8,500 pounds. The proposal includes the same standardized data collection requirements established by NHTSA in 2006 for EDRs that are voluntarily installed by automakers (49 CFR Part 563) and mandates that automakers provide a commercially available tool for copying the data. In keeping with NHTSA’s current policies on EDR data, the EDR data would be treated by NHTSA as the property of the vehicle owner and would not be used or accessed by the agency without owner consent.

Members of the public are encouraged to provide comment on NHTSA’s EDR proposal and will have 60 days to do so once the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The proposal and information on how to submit comments are available HERE.

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NFPA, CPSC, and the Maryland State Fire Marshal Encourage Holiday Decoration Safety

Holiday Safety

Each year, thousands of people are injured and report losses from falls, fires, and other incidents associated with the holidays. Injuries, property losses, Christmas tree and candle light fires tend to be some of the most common incidents that have increased since 2009, in which deaths have unfortunately been a part of. This year, the NFPA, CPSC, and the Maryland State Fire Marshal have teamed up to prevent holiday decoration fires and injuries.

Holiday Safety“Make sure you water your Christmas tree frequently, use holiday lights that are tested and certified and safe and not damaged, use candles carefully, and do not put a frozen turkey into a deep fryer,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “We want consumers to avoid fires and injuries by adding “safety” to their holiday checklist.”

“Holidays are a time of celebration with family and friends,” stated Maryland State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard. “However, fire and life safety is everyone’s responsibility; by testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, keeping exits clear of obstructions, monitoring water levels for live trees, staying with food while it is cooking, and following basic safety guidelines involving open flame devices such as candles and fireplaces, we can all avoid injury or death from fire.”

With this in mind, the following tips were put together by them to make sure we are aware of the dangers and take precautions during this year’s holiday season and for years to come:

Trees and Decorations
  • Buying live trees? Check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, its needles are hard to pull from branches, and its needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • Setting up a tree at home? Place it away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to monitor water levels daily, and keep the tree stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of foot traffic, and do not block doorways with the tree.
  • Buying an artificial tree? Look for the label: “Fire Resistant.” Although this label does not mean that the tree will not catch fire, it does indicate that the tree is more resistant to catching fire.
  • Decorating a tree in homes with small children? Take special care to avoid sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children, who could swallow or inhale small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Candles
  • Keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
  • Keep candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface where kids and pets cannot reach them or knock them over. Lighted candles should be placed away from items that can catch fire, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.
Lights
  • Use only lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Lights for both indoor and outdoor usage must meet strict requirements that testing laboratories are able to verify. On decorative lights available in stores, UL’s red holographic label signifies that the product meets safety requirements for indoor and outdoor usage. UL’s green holographic label, signifies that the product meets requirements for only indoor usage.
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged sets and do not use electric lights on a metallic tree.
  • Check each extension cord to make sure it is rated for the intended use and is in good condition. Do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.
  • Check outdoor lights for labels showing that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
Fireplaces
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown onto wood fires. Fire salts contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting, if swallowed. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result because wrappings can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

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New standard for workplace safety & health released

“Critical management system requirements and guidelines for improvement of occupational safety and health” are provided in a newly revised standard, according to Gary Lopez, chair of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Standards Development Committee.

ASSE announced the release of the American National Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems standard, following approval by the American National Standards Institute.

Also known as  the ANZI Z10-2012 Standard, or Z10, it offers practical guidelines of best practices for occupational safety and health programs.

“Z10 is the most important occupational health and safety standard in the United States because it establishes the requirements for an effective comprehensive management system,” the ASSE said on its website.”Often health and safety programs tend to be a collection of well-intentioned initiatives competing for management attention and necessary resources. Lacking a system to integrate activities, the organization continues fire fighting, chasing a never-ending stream of symptoms (injuries and illnesses) resulting from management system deficiencies.”

Described as a “blueprint for widespread benefits in occupational safety and health,” the standard offers a management system that ensures “that processes and business systems are integrated, mobilizing the organization for continuous improvement in health and safety.” It includes management principles and systems to help organizations develop approaches to continuously improve their health and safety performance.

To read more, visit https://www.asse.org/ShopOnline/docs/Z10_Tech_Brief_2012_Revised.pdf.

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OSHA Has A New Whistleblower Protection Program Director

Beth Slavet has been named the new Whistleblower Protection Program director, as recently announced by OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels.

Slavet is an experienced administrator and manager with more than 30 years of experience with the enforcement of federal whistleblower statutes. She is the former chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, where she also served as vice chairman and a member from 1995-2003. She has spent the last decade in private practice where she had a special focus on whistleblower protection.

For more information on the Whistleblower Protection Program, visit http://www.whistleblowers.gov.

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OSHA Encourages Crowd Management Measures for Black Friday

When sales and discounts that seem unbeatable are offered to customers around the time when Christmas shopping begins, who can blame anyone for trying to save some bucks, right? But it seems that year after year, the retail world gains more of a stigma for the Friday after Thanksgiving sales event known as Black Friday.

Every year, retailers become more willing to go to greater lengths to offer these sales. When the event reaches an uncontrollable point in which customers engage in physical fights or the shopping becomes unsafe, however, one starts wondering if it is even worth it.

This year, OSHA has put together a crowd management outline of tips for retailers that are holding sales this Black Friday to take maximum precautions and prevent as many injuries as possible.

“Crowd control and proper planning are critical to preventing injuries and deaths,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “OSHA urges retailers to adopt a crowd management plan during the holiday shopping season that includes a few simple guidelines.”

A crowd management for employees and customers should include the following:

  • On-site trained security personnel or police officers.
  • Barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store’s entrance.
  • Implementing crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store.
  • Emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers.
  • Explaining approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public.
  • Not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level.
  • Not blocking or locking exit doors.

A fact sheet outlining these and other safety measures is available at https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/Crowd_Control.html.

A letter that OSHA has sent to major retailers about preventing crowd-related injuries can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/blackfriday_letter_2012.html.

Comments on this subject from Michaels are available for radio stations to rebroadcast. To download the audio file, or view a transcript, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/previous-focus.html.

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Holiday Safety Tip Reminders

This is the number one season for at home injuries so share these key points with all of your employees.

Lights

Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.

Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.

Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Candles

Never use lighted candles near trees, curtains/drapes, or with any potentially flammable item.

Toys and Gifts

Be especially careful when you choose toys for infants or small children. Be sure anything you give them is too big to get caught in the throat, nose or ears. Avoid toys with small parts that can be pulled or broken off. If you are giving toys to several children in one family, consider their age differences and the chances that younger children will want to play with older kids’ toys.

Alcohol, Parties and Driving

Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a holiday party.

 

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Common mistakes people make when working on electrical systems

1. Thinking that it’s “only 120 volts”

“It’s only low voltage.” Okay, I’ll admit that you can have an open casket with a low-voltage hit, but you’ll still be dead. The only difference between low and high voltage is how fast it can kill you. High voltage kills instantly; low voltage may take a little longer.

Dr. A.G. Soto, consulting physician to Ontario Power Generation presented a paper at the 2007 IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop discussing low-voltage shock exposures. In that paper, he stated that a 120-volt shock can kill up to 48 hours later. He also stated that many emergency room physicians are unfamiliar with electric shock and that an EKG may not show a problem. The injury to the heart muscle tends to spread over time and cannot always be identified using EKGs.

2. Working on energized systems or equipment when it can be de-energized.

De-energizing is the only way to eliminate hazards. Arc flash personal protective equipment (PPE) just increases your chances of survival; it doesn’t guarantee it. Just be aware that until equipment and systems are placed in an electrically-safe work condition, proper PPE and procedures must be used to protect the worker. See Article 120 in NFPA 70E 2012.

3. Not wearing any PPE.

This could go into number 2 above, but people really don’t like wearing rubber insulating gloves or arc flash PPE and equipment. It’s hot, uncomfortable, restricts movement, and slows the entire work process down — not only by wearing it, but by selecting the correct PPE and putting it on and taking it off.  It will also save your life. One of the most likely times people neglect to wear their PPE is during troubleshooting. The rationale seems to be, “I’m not really working on it; I’m just testing it.”  Yet, CDC/NIOSH studies have found that 24% of electrical accidents are caused by troubleshooting, voltage testing and like activities. We have a tendency to ignore hazards associated with tasks we consider “safe”.

4. Not wearing the right PPE.

Some people think that if they wear anything by way of PPE, that should be enough. Do you know how to interpret arc flash labels? What do you do if there’s no arc flash label on electrical power equipment? Do you know how to use the tables in the NFPA 70E? Do you refer to the notes when you use the tables? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you aren’t choosing the right PPE.

5. Using outdated or defective test equipment to troubleshoot.

When the leads are frayed or your meter is damaged, it’s time to replace it.  The NFPA committee was concerned enough to put two different requirements for using only portable electric tools and test equipment that were properly rated.

6. Not using an Energized Electrical Work Permit system.

People tend to hate paperwork. This is one great exception. You should plan each job, have the right tools and equipment to do the job safely and follow your work plan. How do you document the Hazard/Risk Analysis or our PPE Assessment? The Energized Electrical Work Permit provides the means to plan the work, assess the hazard and the risk, choose the proper PPE for the job and document it.

 

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U.S. Workers Ask For Workplace Violence Prevention Preparation

Due to this year’s past high profile public and workplace shootings throughout the U.S., the FBI Academy Alumni Association, received high interest in a shooting response program held in Boston last week.

The workshop, “Active Shooter Preparation and Response” was held by the group and resulted in a turnout of about 300 attendees.

The local citizens group’s main goal is to raise awareness about workplace violence and shootings and prod employers and landlords to take preventative action in case of an emergency.

“Workplace homicides are still relatively rare, but general workforce violence is not uncommon, and there’s evidence of an increase in violent crime in general,” said Randy Spivey, chief executive of the Center for Personal Protection and Safety, a firm in Spokane, Wash., that develops workplace violence-prevention programs for companies.

While a workplace incident like a shooting spree is still relatively rare, the unfortunate past events shows that is highly important for all employers to be aware of the best strategy for a company to use in case of an emergency.

To view the original article, visit http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2012/11/companies_focus_on_preventing_workplace.html.

If you would like more information about Workplace Violence Prevention, visit https://www.safetylinks.net/index.php/training/safety-management-courses/violence-prevention.

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