Archive for the ‘OSHA Regulations’ Category
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
In response to a court order, OSHA has amended its February 28, 2006, final rule on occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) by requiring that employers notify employees of the results of all Cr(VI) exposure determinations.
As originally promulgated, the Cr(VI) rule required employers to notify affected employees of any determinations indicating exposures in excess of the permissible exposure limit (PEL). The employer could satisfy this requirement either by posting the determination results in a location accessible to all affected employees or by notifying each affected employee in writing of the results. Under the General Industry Standard, notice has to be provided within 15 workdays; in the construction and maritime sectors, employers have 5 workdays to provide the required notice. The final rule departed from the 2004 proposed standard, which would have required employers to notify affected employees of all exposure determinations, irrespective of the results.
Public Citizen and other parties petitioned for review of multiple aspects of the final Cr(VI) standard. Regarding notification, the petitioners argued that OSHA’s decision to depart from the proposed rule and limit employee notification to exposures above the PEL was arbitrary and unexplained.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit agreed with the petitioners, finding that “OSHA failed to provide a statement of reasons for departing from the proposed standard and past practice in other standards.” The court remanded the notification provision to the agency and said it expected OSHA to “act expeditiously in either providing an explanation for its chosen notification requirements or taking such further action as may be appropriate.”
The amended provision requires employers to notify affected employees of all exposure determinations above or below the PEL. OSHA states that it is not changing any other requirements in the exposure determination or notification provisions.
For example, the number of workdays employers have to provide notice to employees is unchanged.
The amendment was issued as a direct final rule effective June 15, 2010, unless significant adverse comment is transmitted, postmarked, or delivered to OSHA by April 16, 2010.
From the Enviro BLR
Monday, March 29th, 2010
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation.
Each volume of the CFR is updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis.
Titles 1-16 are updated as of January 1st
Titles 17-27 are updated as of April 1st
Titles 28-41 are updated as of July 1st
Titles 42-50 are updated as of October 1st
Each title is divided into chapters, which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts that cover specific regulatory areas. Large parts may be subdivided into subparts. All parts are organized in sections, and most citations in the CFR are provided at the section level. A list of agencies and where they appear in the CFR may be found in Appendix C of the U.S. Government Manual.
Saturday, March 27th, 2010
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Inspector General has announced its audit targets for 2010. On the list, “Impact of OSHA’s Penalty Reductions.”
OSHA’s penalty structure is designed to provide companies with an incentive to correct violations. Reductions in fines can come from several sources. An inspector can recommend discounts to the original fine amount. OSHA supervisors, including area directors, regional administrators and Department of Labor attorneys can further reduce the size of a penalty, which are often significantly less than statutory maximums.
Stated audit objectives include determining whether penalty reductions encouraged companies to correct violations. No word on exactly when the audit will be completed. Earlier this year, acting OSHA administrator Jordan Barab said OSHA’s current penalty structure wasn’t enough of a disincentive to force some companies to address safety hazards.
Sourced from SafetyNewsAlert.com
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
40CFR211 Subpart B, Hearing Protector Labeling
40CFR211 Subpart B, Hearing Protector Labeling Exposure to high levels of noise is one of the most prevalent occupational hazards faced by American workers, with an estimated 22 million noise‐exposed workers in the U.S. Consequently, noise‐induced hearing loss (NIHL) resulting from excessive noise exposure is one of the most common occupational diseases in the U.S. Hearing protectors represent a critical element of hearing conservation programs, and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) commends EPA for its efforts to update 40CFR211 Subpart B, Hearing Protector Labeling.
NHCA is a multidisciplinary organization comprised of audiologists, researchers, industrial hygienists, educators, professional service providers, safety professionals, medical professionals, engineers, students, and others committed to the prevention of hearing loss.
NHCA members work in a wide range of industries and governmental organizations, and NHCA is a participant in a tripartite alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As such, NHCA is uniquely positioned to comment on the proposed revision of this regulation (EPA–HQ–OAR– 2003–0024; FRL–8934–9 RIN 2060–A025, published in the Federal Register on August 5, 2009). SPECIFIC CHANGES TO THE PROPOSED RULE EPA should make the following changes to the proposed rule:
Base labeled values on American National Standards Institute (ANSI) S12.6‐2008 Method B, rather than the proposed Method A. Method A assesses the optimal (or near‐optimal) performance of tested devices. Method B is a better indicator of the real‐ world performance that is expected among potential users in both occupational and community settings, as demonstrated by several studies published in the peer‐reviewed scientific literature.
Regulations intended to estimate the approximate performance which can be expected for real‐world end users, as should be the case with the proposed rule, need to employ laboratory test methods that most closely align with real‐world performance, and thus have better predictive ability for groups of end users. Labels based on Method B test results will meet this need, and will therefore be more protective of public health than labels based on Method A, which may provide a better absolute measure of the performance achievable using a device, but which will not reflect the performance likely to be achieved by most real‐world users.
In selecting a test method, EPA should consider that a large percentage of end users of hearing protection devices do not receive adequate training on how to fit the devices correctly. Regardless of the method selected, EPA should insure that no de‐rating or other manipulation of attenuation levels is required for OSHA and other agencies that regulate the use of hearing protection devices. Revise the labeling requirements for hearing protection devices. The number of different types of primary labels should be increased to better distinguish different types of HPDs.
These labels should be simplified, reworded, and provided in multiple languages in insure that the description of the capabilities of different types of hearing protectors is clear to untrained users. Increased use of graphical symbols may further reduce language barriers. Supporting information should be permitted in an electronic (e.g., compact disc or digital versatile disc) or paper insert inside the packaging of the device, rather than being required on the packaging itself.
- Eliminate the requirement for information on noise reduction as a function of spectra to be provided on the packaging of devices. This information is of little value to the majority of users, and should be provided online, as an electronic or paper package insert, or upon request from the manufacturer in order to simplify package labeling.
- Only apply the term “active” to devices that use wave‐cancellation or noise cancellation technology, rather than to all electronic devices, and use the word “electronic” to refer to any device which relies on electrical current to process noise signals. Additionally, specify different types of active devices, e.g., active level‐dependent, active noise canceling, active communication, etc. This will greatly increase the clarity of the proposed rule.
- Base test methods for evaluating the performance of active hearing protectors and devices designed for use in impulsive noise on published consensus standards and proven/valid test methodologies. This would preferably involve referencing the current version of the ANSI S12.42 test method standard, or, alternatively, delaying the effective date of the regulation until after the expected revision of the standard.
- Extend the 30 month window to re‐test and re‐label devices to 42 months, divided into a 24 month interim period and an 18 month transition period. The interim period should begin on the date the final rule is published, and will provide time for test facilities to develop the capability to test the reduction of impulsive noise and to perform testing with the new methods. Only products featuring the old attenuation labels should be sold during this interim period. Shortening the subsequent transition period to 18 months will reduce confusion associated with the simultaneous sale of products bearing both old and new labels.
At the conclusion of the transition period, only products featuring the new attenuation labels should be sold. Adoption of Method B for evaluation of attenuation (described in point 1 above) may increase the cost, complexity, and time required for attenuation testing. However, these increased efforts are necessary to insure that rated attenuation levels are as representative as possible of the real‐world performance expected for most end users, and should not be considered in EPA’s selection of a test method.
- Require language on the device label noting that individual quantitative fit testing is the only way to estimate the amount of attenuation afforded to any individual user. Although there is currently no standardized methodology for individual fit testing, end users should be made aware that such individual testing is possible, and is preferable to attenuation results derived from groups of users.
- Deemphasize the label focus on “motivation” as the reason why some users might achieve the high value in the attenuation range provided on the device label. Many factors can contribute to attenuation achieved, including physiology, condition of the device, etc.
These suggested changes will help EPA improve the utility of hearing protection devices, and in doing so will reduce the substantial burden that NIHL places on American workers and community members. NHCA would be pleased to provide guidance and assistance to EPA in the selection of language for the labeling of hearing protection devices. Please contact me should you have any questions, require additional information, or desire additional input from NHCA.
Created by Richard Neitzel, PhD, CIH President, NHCA NHCA Comment pdf
NHCA Comment pdf
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
On October 14, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued updated guidelines for infection control procedures for the H1N1 influenza virus.
Included in these updated guidelines were recommendations that employees having direct exposure to H1N1 patients use respirators at least as protective as NIOSH N95 filtering facepiece respirators. In healthcare settings, however, questions can arise about whether a surgical mask or an N95 respirator should be used. Knowing the differences between a surgical mask and an N95 respirator can help answer those questions.
Surgical mask: Medical devices intended for use in preventing and treating disease are subject to regulation under the device provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This includes surgical masks. As such, the certification of the manufacture of surgical masks is through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—not NIOSH.
A surgical mask is intended to act as a physical barrier to prevent the release of potential contaminants into the immediate environment—they serve as barriers to splash, droplets, and spit. As such, they do provide some measure of protection from bacteria and viruses in these materials, but not airborne particles. Surgical masks are not designed to fit tightly to the face (leakage occurs around the edge of the mask when the user inhales), and they do not effectively filter small particles—such as viruses—from air.
N95 respirator: An N95 is a particulate-filtering facepiece respirator. N95 respirators filter at least 95% of non-oil airborne particles. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has responsibility for the certification and approval of respiratory protection devices for occupational use, including N95 respirators. Only respirators that have been NIOSH-certified can be marketed as NIOSH-approved—and these respirators bear labeling or marking that indicates they are NIOSH certified.
N95 respirators provide protection from exposure to airborne particles such as biological aerosols, including viruses and bacteria, by effectively filtering large and small particles from the air. N95 respirators are designed to fit tightly to the face, preventing leakage of unfiltered air into the breathing space when the wearer inhales. Many N95 respirators cannot be worn in health care settings where a sterile environment must be maintained—for example, those with exhalation valves.
Surgical N95 respirators: For a health care center where protection from H1N1 is required and the environment must be maintained as sterile, a surgical N95 respirator is an option. Surgical N95 respirators are a type of hybrid respirator. Surgical N95 respirators are both NIOSH approved and cleared by the FDA as a surgical mask. Like a surgical mask, the surgical N95 respirator provides a physical barrier for splashes and sprays, and like an N95 respirator, it fits tightly to the face to provide protection from airborne particles.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday unveiled a new Web site that lists fatality and catastrophe reports by companies across the nation.
The federal agency keeps logs of all of the reported worker fatalities and work place incidents that result in the injury of more than three workers. It keeps weekly lists of the incidents along with short synopses of how the injuries or deaths occurred.
The OSHA fatality log website on Wednesday had logs for the weeks between July 24 and Nov. 27.
The online database gives companies an incentive to take steps to avoid such accidents, and gives safety directors access to information that identifies common hazards around the country, according to the OSHA announcement.
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
DOL Budget Boosts Labor Funds to Combat Workplace Fraud
The Obama administration has proposed $14 billion to fund Labor Department divisions pertaining to work force development and safety, among other initiatives. Several Labor Department divisions, including the Employee Benefits Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division, among others, saw moderate increases to their fiscal 2011 unit budgets from 2010 levels.
In an online chat Monday following the budget’s release, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said the department would seek to allocate $1.7 billion for worker protection programs—an increase of roughly $69 million—and also hire about 177 new inspectors and investigators.
“Today’s budget affirms this administration’s strong commitment to vigorous enforcement,” Ms. Solis said in a recorded video message. She added, “OSHA received over 100 inspectors in our 2010 budget, as well as an additional 25 requested in 2011. We are also moving 35 inspectors from compliance assistance activities to enforcement.”
From the Wall Street Journal.
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
Every year since 1996 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has collected work-related injury and illness data from more than 80,000 employers. For the first time, the agency has made the data from 1996 to 2007 available in a searchable online database, allowing the public to look at establishment or industry-specific injury and illness data. The workplace injury and illness data is available online at OSHA.gov at as well as Data.gov.
OSHA uses the data to calculate injury and illness incidence rates to guide its strategic management plan and to focus its Site Specific Targeting (SST) Program, which the agency uses to target its inspections.
“Making injury and illness information available to the public is part of OSHA’s response to the administration’s commitment to make government more transparent to the American people,” said David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. “This effort will improve the public’s accessibility to workplace safety and health data and ensure the Agency can function more effectively for American workers.”
Information available at the Data.gov and www.osha.gov websites includes an establishment’s name, address, industry, associated Total Case Rate (TCR), Days Away, Restricted, Transfer (DART) case rate, and the Days Away From Work (DAFWII) case rate. The data is specific to the establishments that provided OSHA with valid data through the 2008 data collection (collection of CY 2007 data). This database does not contain rates calculated by OSHA for establishments that submitted suspect or unreliable data.
Data.gov provides expanded public access to valuable workforce-related data generated by the Executive Branch of the federal government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, the public is invited to participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless public access and use of federal data.
More information about the Department of Labor’s Open Government Web site is available at www.dol.gov/open where there are links to the latest data sets, ways to connect with Department staff, and information about providing public input that will make the Department’s site and its work more useful and engaging.