Friday, April 24, 2009

OSHA Tightens Up

OSHA Beefs Up
More Inspectors - More Enforcement

In the following article from The Las Vegas Sun by Michael Mishak, the Secretary of Labor relates plans to increase accident prevention, inspections and enforcement particularly in the Construction Industry and with the Nevada OSHA.

I have been a proponent of more inspections and more fines to violators to get their attention. I urge the Secretary to expand this enforcement nationwide.

construction safety:

Labor secretary says OSHA to be strengthened

Solis: Hundreds of investigators to be hired to strengthen safety enforcement


Leila Navidi

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis drinks water after a tour of the kitchens during a tour of the Culinary Training Academy in Las Vegas Thursday, April 23, 2009.

Thu, Apr 23, 2009 (4:48 p.m.)

Labor secretary visit Vegas

Echoing remarks she made earlier this week, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Thursday that her department would strengthen the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by adding hundreds of investigators and spending tens of millions of dollars on enforcement activities.

"We’ll have more people out in the field to make inspections, and we’re going to have to be a lot smarter and strategic on how we do that," Solis said. "We are going to look at industries where you have a high incidence of accidents."

She said OSHA would focus on the construction industry in particular.

Last year the Las Vegas Sun detailed how construction workers had died at a rate of one every six weeks on the Strip. The Sun also reported that state OSHA officials reduced fines and withdrew citations after negotiations with employers over findings of responsibility in the deaths.

Solis spoke briefly with reporters Thursday after touring Nevada Partners and the Culinary Training Academy in North Las Vegas. She said made the trip at the request of Sen. Harry Reid.

The labor secretary said federal OSHA was working with Nevada OSHA to review injuries and fatalities on Strip construction projects.

"There shouldn't be any loss of life. Workers should be able to go to work and go home," she said. "We know there has to be more assistance provided, so our department is ready and willing to do that."

Solis noted that $80 million in federal funds had been allocated for enforcement activities through Fiscal 2010. During her tour of Nevada Partners, she told a class of high school students that the Labor Department hoped to hire between 300 and 400 new investigators. That number could climb as high as 1,000 depending on funding, she said. Unclear is how many of those investigators will be assigned to OSHA.

Solis said her department would pay special attention to Nevada.

"We will work closely with Nevada, because, again, the high incidence of fatalities in the construction area," she said. "If we can learn from things here we can share that with other parts of the country that have similar accidents."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Contractor Fined for Nebraska Deaths

Follow Up on Trench Death Post

The article below is a follow up on an article I posted on September 12, 2008 regarding the death of four construction workers near Verdel, NE titled "Accident Kills Four Construction Workers."

This article was posted by CCH, Aspen Publishers, Technical Answer Group.

As I stated in the September post, it is just plain Donkey Sense for contractors conducting excavation work with not even an obvious attempt in following Horse Sense procedures that are so well spelled out in OSHA regulations. There is just no excuse for the death of one worker much less of 4 workers.

If history fails to repeat itself, after an informal conference with OSHA, the fines will be lowered by about 90% of the $201600 original fine.

SAFETY / OSHA - 04/1/09

OSHA cites John Prouty Construction, Inc., following trench collapse that killed 4 in Verdel, Neb., Sept. 2008

OSHA has cited John Prouty Construction, Inc., of O'Neill, Neb., for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act following an investigation of a trench collapse near Verdel, Nebraska, that killed four workers, on Sept. 12, 2008.

OSHA's investigation of the excavation company's site found three alleged willful and two alleged serious violations of the OSH Act.

"There is no excuse for this accident and these workers did not need to lose their lives. It is appalling to realize there are companies that would allow, or even require, their employees to enter excavations without having cave-in protection," said Charles Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "It is imperative that employers take the necessary steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment for all of their employees to prevent accidents like this from occurring."

The willful violations stem from the company's failure to instruct employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions when working in a trench and not having a cave-in protection system. Furthermore, excavated spoils, and other equipment, were not kept two feet from the trench edge. OSHA issues a willful violation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The serious violations stem from the lack of hard hat use by employees where an overhead hazard existed as well as failure to provide safe access into and egress from a trench greater than four feet in depth. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about.

OSHA has proposed $201,600 in penalties against the company. John Prouty Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Omaha or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.