New OSHA 30-Hour Elective Course

Source: OSHA December 15 QuickTakes newsletter

OSHA offers new outreach training elective on safety leadership

OSHA’s Outreach Training Program and the Center for Construction Research and Training have developed a new OSHA 30-hour construction training elective course: Foundations for Safety Leadership. Responding to a training gap identified by contractors, unions and other industry stakeholders, FSL is designed to introduce construction workers, particularly foremen and lead workers, to five critical safety leadership skills needed to improve jobsite safety climate and safety outcomes. The course stresses the importance of leading by example, engaging and empowering team members, listening and communicating effectively, coaching and providing feedback, and recognizing team members who go above and beyond for safety. The FSL course will be available on OSHA’s Outreach Training Program webpage starting January 1, 2017.

OSHA Issues Recommended Workplace Safety & Health Practices

Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration | December 1, 2016

OSHA issues recommended practices to promote workplace safety and health programs in construction

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction to help industry employers develop proactive programs to keep their workplaces safe. The recommendations may be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized contractors who lack safety and health specialists on staff.

Safety and health programs encourage finding and fixing workplace hazards before they cause injuries, illnesses and deaths. Implementing these programs also helps reduce the financial difficulties these events can cause for workers, their families and their employers.

Contractors can create a safety and health program using a number of simple steps that include: training workers on how to identify and control hazards; inspecting the jobsite with workers to identify problems with equipment and materials; and developing responses to possible emergency scenarios in advance.

“The recommendations outlined in this document will help contractors prevent injuries and illnesses on their construction sites and make their companies more profitable,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

The recommended practices for a safety and health program are flexible and can be adjusted to fit small and large construction companies handling short-term or multi-year projects. Working with employees to implement a program can offer other benefits including improvements in production and quality; greater employee morale; improved employee recruiting and retention; and a more favorable image and reputation among customers, suppliers and the community.

These recommendations are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

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 www.osha.gov.

# # #

New Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Requirements

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, November 17, 2016

OSHA issues final rule updating walking-working surfaces standards and establishing personal fall protection systems requirements

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems.

“The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls.” The final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

OSHA estimates the final standard will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually. The rule becomes effective on Jan. 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites.

The final rule’s most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.

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 www.osha.gov.

OSHA kicks off Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge

OSHA August 15 Newsletter

Every year 22 million workers are at risk of losing their hearing from workplace noise hazards. Hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers’ compensation. This is why OSHA is partnering with other agencies to offer a challenge to inventors and entrepreneurs: Help develop a technological solution to workplace noise exposure and related hearing loss.

OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have launched the “Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge.”

The competition is open to the general public. Idea submissions are due by Sept. 30. Ten finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C., to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that will include investors and representatives of NIOSH and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Here’s the news release for details.

AGC Pushes Back on New OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

AGC intensified its effort to dissuade the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from interpreting its new recordkeeping regulations to restrict drug testing or safety incentive programs by pressing for a formal audience with the top OSHA official.

At the heart of the controversy surrounding the new regulations are two provisions that have many practical and legal problems. At the moment, AGC of America is focusing on two such problems.  Firstly, OSHA has threatened to interpret these provisions to prohibit mandatory post-incident drug testing.  Secondly, the agency has similarly threatened to construe them to restrict safety incentive programs, specifically any programs that link their rewards to the number of incidents reported to the employer.

Read the full story here.

Higher Fines for Federal Safety, Environmental Law Violations Starting this Summer

OSHA, EPA and FWS Finalize New Maximum Civil Penalties
The financial penalties that federal agencies may impose on the regulated community as restitution (or a deterrent) for any violation of statutes/regulations or permit requirements are about to go way up, some by as much as 150 percent. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – to name a few – all have finalized penalty increases that take effect this summer.  Most notable, OSHA’s maximum penalties have increased by approximately 80 percent across the board.  Similarly, EPA published more than 65 penalty increases across the various environmental statutes that it administers.

The impending higher fines stem from recent legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties in two significant ways.  First, the agencies must make initial “catch up” adjustments with the higher penalty levels to take effect no later than Aug. 1, 2016 – as previously reported by AGC (click here and here).  Second, looking ahead, federal agencies must make adjustments for inflation every year — a change from the prior frequency of once every 4 years. OSHA and EPA will apply the new higher fines to all civil penalties assessed on or after Aug. 1, 2016, for violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015 (when the 2015 Adjustment Act was enacted).

Here’s the full story.

Here’s the OSHA news release.