Author Archives: OH&S News

Enforcement Guidance Issued for Crane Operator Evaluations

Enforcement Guidance Issued for Crane Operator Evaluations OSHA is enforcing the requirement that employers must evaluate their operators before allowing them to operate cranes independently, but it will offer compliance assistance rather than enforcement until April 15, for employers who have evaluated operators in accordance with the final rule and are making good-faith efforts to comply with the new documentation requirement. Feb 15, 2019 OSHA recently issued enforcement guidance related to its Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Qualifications final rule, which was published on Nov. 8, 2018. The requirements in the rule for employers to evaluate their crane operators and also document the evaluations became effective Feb. 7, 2019. OSHA is enforcing the requirement that employers must evaluate their operators before allowing them to operate cranes independently, but it will offer compliance assistance rather than enforcement until April 15, for employers who have evaluated operators in accordance with the final rule and are making good-faith efforts to comply with the new documentation requirement. Addressed to regional administrators and state plan designees and from Scott C. Ketcham, acting director of OSHA's Directorate of Construction, the guidance is dated Feb. 7. "OSHA has received feedback from the construction industry indicating some employers may need more time to document evaluations of crane operators prior to the February 7, 2019, effective date. During the first 60 days of enforcement (until April 15, 2019), OSHA will evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers in their attempt to meet the new documentation requirements for operators of cranes used in construction. During this period, OSHA intends to offer compliance assistance, in lieu of enforcement, for those employers who have evaluated operators in accord with the final rule and are making good faith efforts to comply with the new documentation requirement. If, upon inspection, it is determined that an employer has failed to make sufficient efforts to comply, OSHA should cite for that deficiency," it says, asking regional administrators and state plan designees to consult the National Office Directorate of Construction before issuing any proposed citations arising during this time period that are related to documenting crane operator evaluations. Starting April 15, OSHA will fully enforce all applicable provisions of the final rule, the guidance document states. Regions with questions are asked to contact the Directorate of Construction by calling 202-693-2020. Let's block ads! (Why?)

SHRM CEO Appointed to Workforce Policy Advisory Board

SHRM CEO Appointed to Workforce Policy Advisory Board The 25-member board was created by the U.S. Department of Commerce in August 2018 to provide insight on how the government, educators, and employers can train workers and reduce the skills gap. Feb 15, 2019 Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, has been appointed to the federal government's 25-member American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, SHRM announced Feb. 13. The board was created by the U.S. Department of Commerce in August 2018 to provide insight on how the government, educators, and employers can train workers and reduce the skills gap. Commerce established the panel to advise the newly created National Council for the American Worker—made up of Cabinet-level secretaries and other officials—on ways the federal government can encourage the private sector and educational institutions to address what SHRM calls the "skills crisis." "Our ability to skill up workers deeply impacts our long-term economic prospects and global competitiveness," Taylor said. "The advisory board and the HR community have a common goal of training, developing, and educating the workforce. With this shared mission, I'm pleased to bring SHRM's workforce development expertise to the important work of the board." SHRM was one of the first signers of the Trump administration's Pledge to America's Workers, committing to educate and prepare more than 127,000 HR professionals through the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certification programs in the next five years. The society supports creating more apprenticeship programs. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Ivanka Trump, advisor to the president, are co-chairs of the board. Others appointed to the board were announced Feb. 13. They include: Jay Box, president, Kentucky Community and Technical College System Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin Eric Holcomb, governor of Indiana Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA Al Kelly, CEO of Visa Vi Lyles, mayor of Charlotte, N.C. Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building and Trades Unions Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Craig Menear, chairman, president, and CEO of Home Depot Kim Reynolds, governor of Iowa Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and CEO of IBM Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers Let's block ads! (Why?)

Steel Plant Becomes Kentucky's 13th VPP Star Site

Steel Plant Becomes Kentucky's 13th VPP Star Site "We congratulate the entire Nucor Steel Gallatin team for valuing the importance of workplace safety and completing the comprehensive program required to be recognized as a VPP Star site," Acting Labor Secretary David A. Dickerson said. "Voluntary, proactive programs like VPP play an important role in creating safer workplaces across the state." Feb 15, 2019 Nucor Steel Gallatin became Kentucky's 13th Voluntary Protection Partnership Star Site on Feb. 1, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet announced. Danny Davis, acting director of the Division of Education and Training in the Labor Cabinet's Department of Workplace Standards, attended the VPP flag-raising ceremony at the company's steel mill in Ghent, Ky. "Congratulations to Nucor Steel Gallatin on this significant achievement," Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said. "The safety and health of Kentucky's workforce are of paramount importance, and we are grateful for Nucor's dedicated efforts in pursuit of continual improvement. As Kentucky takes its place as America's center for engineering and manufacturing excellence, companies like Nucor are setting a powerful national standard for workplace safety." "We congratulate the entire Nucor Steel Gallatin team for valuing the importance of workplace safety and completing the comprehensive program required to be recognized as a VPP Star site," Acting Labor Secretary David A. Dickerson said. "Voluntary, proactive programs like VPP play an important role in creating safer workplaces across the state. The program is the gold standard for implementing and maintaining safety and health management systems, and we urge other companies across Kentucky to follow the lead of Nucor Steel Gallatin and our other VPP sites." John Farris, vice president and general manager of Nucor Steel Gallatin, said the plant began its VPP journey two years ago "and through the hard work and commitment of each and every one of our teammates, the Nucor Gallatin mill has achieved this distinction and become a safer place to work. I am very proud to be a part of this team." The Division of Education and Training oversees the VPP program in Kentucky, which is similar to the OSHA program. To receive VPP status, companies such as Nucor Steel Gallatin must meet rigorous qualifying criteria and undergo an on-site evaluation. Nucor Steel Gallatin is part of Nucor Corp., the largest steel producer in the United States and North America's largest recycler, according to the Labor Cabinet's news release, which said Nucor Steel Gallatin is the 26th Nucor facility to be recognized as a VPP Star site. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Nine Teams Chosen for Colorado's NextCycle Program

Nine Teams Chosen for Colorado's NextCycle Program Each of the nine teams selected for the first-of-its-kind pilot program will receive a $5,000 business development grant, mentoring from the Colorado NextCycle technical advisory committee, and technical support from RRS, the recycling and sustainability consulting firm assisting with the Colorado NextCycle program. Feb 14, 2019 The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has chosen nine teams for Colorado's NextCycle program, announcing the selections on Feb. 12. Teams had pitched recycled material end-market business ideas for the Colorado marketplace during an open application period last year. Each of the nine teams selected for the first-of-its-kind pilot program will receive a $5,000 business development grant, mentoring from the Colorado NextCycle technical advisory committee, and technical support from RRS, the recycling and sustainability consulting firm assisting with the Colorado NextCycle program. They will pitch their ideas at the state's largest recycling conference June 9-11, 2019, in Pueblo and will have the ability to submit their business ideas for the 2019 department grant cycle for funding to implement their business proposals in Colorado. The department's NextCycle website explains why the program is needed: Newly adopted statewide waste diversion goals aim to more than double the state's current recycling rate to 45 percent by 2036. Because Colorado's geography and changes in international end markets pose significant challenges to meet that goal, Colorado needs strong regional infrastructure and robust end markets to form a more sustainable domestic recycling economy in the region. "I am so excited to see companies develop bold and innovative ways to reduce waste," said CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan. "Colorado NextCycle provides the technical and financial support needed to turn great ideas into reality, and that's a win for all of us." The nine teams are: 9Fiber, headquartered in Silver Spring, Md. Its end-market business proposal is to engineer and build a processing plant in Pueblo for transforming hemp and cannabis waste stalk and stems into fiber for use in textile, absorbent, industrial, bioplastic, semiconductor, carbon-fiber, construction, fuel, and automotive applications. Direct Polymers, headquartered in Denver. Its proposal is to add the ability to wash, blend, and pelletize difficult-to-recycle plastic streams containing labels, liquids, dirt, and other contaminates at an existing Commerce City facility. Ekomats, headquartered in the Netherlands and Chelsea, Vermont. Its proposal is to identify a second North American site to manufacture ekomats, a multipurpose mat made of recycled #4 LDPE plastic film waste used in construction, residential, industrial, and various service industries. Natural Buildings Innovation, headquartered in Gunnison, Colo. Its proposal is to research and marketing to scale existing operations receiving, retrieving, and processing standing dead trees into custom wood products and building materials for the local economy. Renewlogy, headquartered in Salt Lake City. Its proposal is to do a feasibility study for a new facility in Colorado for converting plastic waste from material recovery facilities and municipal drop-off locations into fuel products and feedstocks. Resolar, with headquarters to be determined. It proposes a facility in Colorado for refurbishing end-of-life solar panels for resale to nonprofits, indigenous tribes, companies that build off-grid systems, and do-it-yourselfers. San Juan Organics, headquartered in Durango, Colo. Its proposal is to do research to develop a business and site plan for an aggregation and processing facility to create local organic compost and soil amendments from organic scrap. Spring Back Colorado, headquartered in Commerce City, Colo. Its proposal is to operate a steel shredding machine in an existing Commerce City location to allow for in-house shredding of steel mattress coils into acceptable end-market form and potential for receiving and processing coils from other mattress recyclers. Vartega, headquartered in Golden, Colo. Its proposal is to identify thermoplastic and carbon fiber waste streams for reforming/repurposing material into an engineered composite manufacturing feedstock for use in the automotive, sporting goods, and 3D printing industries. Let's block ads! (Why?)

House Democrats Back Bill to Significantly Expand OSHA's Coverage

House Democrats Back Bill to Significantly Expand OSHA's Coverage The proposed Protecting America's Workers Act would expand OSHA coverage to state and local government employees in 25 states and expand it to include federal employees. Feb 14, 2019 U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat and a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, reintroduced the Protecting America's Workers Act on Feb. 7 -- the ninth anniversary of the explosion at the Kleen Energy plant under construction at the time. Courtney was joined by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the committee and Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The bill would expand OSHA coverage to state and local government employees in 25 states and expand it to include federal employees. "Nine years ago, there was a devastating explosion at the Kleen Energy plant, which was under construction in Middletown, Connecticut," Courtney said. "The explosion took the lives of six workers – including that of my friend, Ronald Crabb of Colchester, Connecticut – and injured dozens more. Today, on the ninth anniversary of the accident, it's appropriate that my colleagues and I reintroduce this legislation to make critical, decades-overdue updates to OSHA. Every day, 14 employees go to work and never come home to their families due to fatal on-the-job injuries. The OSH Act made great strides in protecting American workers, but since it was enacted the American workplace has modernized and diversified. The law should keep up with the realities that workers face on the job today. Our bill is focused on updates and compliance, not on petty, punitive measures against employers and will ensure that today's workforce is empowered and protected by our nation's chief worker safety law." In August 2010, OSHA cited three construction companies and 14 site contractors for 371 alleged workplace safety violations and proposed $16.6 million in penalties after investigating the natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems LLC power plant construction site in Middletown. In September 2011, answering a recommendation from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the National Fire Protection Association released NFPA 56, Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems, which prohibits using a flammable gas as a cleaning agent to clean out pipes. The explosion had been caused by this type of "gas purging." Let's block ads! (Why?)

California's Governor Scales Back High-Speed Rail

California's Governor Scales Back High-Speed Rail "I have nothing but respect for Governor Brown's and Governor Schwarzenegger's ambitious vision. I share it. And there's no doubt that our state's economy and quality of life depend on improving transportation," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his first State of the State address. "But let's be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long." Feb 14, 2019 California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his first State of the State address Feb. 12 before a joint session of the California Legislature. It was wide-ranging, with Newsom talking early in the speech about "the tough calls we must make together on rail, water, and energy." According to the prepared text on the governor's website, he promised to cut back on the state's high-speed rail project. "I have nothing but respect for Governor Brown's and Governor Schwarzenegger's ambitious vision. I share it. And there's no doubt that our state's economy and quality of life depend on improving transportation," he said. "But let's be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Right now, there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA. I wish there were. However, we do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield. "I know that some critics will say this is a 'train to nowhere.' But that's wrong and offensive," Newsom continued. "The people of the Central Valley endure the worst air pollution in America as well as some of the longest commutes. And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers here in Sacramento. They deserve better. High-speed rail is much more than a train project. It's about economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley." He promised to continue regional projects north and south and to finish Phase 1 environmental work. "We'll connect the revitalized Central Valley to other parts of the state, and continue to push for more federal funding and private dollars. But let's just get something done," he said. "For those who want to walk away from this whole endeavor, I offer you this: Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it. And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump. Nor am I interested in repeating the same old mistakes. Today I am ordering new transparency measures. We're going to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how taxpayer dollars are spent – including change orders, cost overruns, even travel expenses. It's going online for everybody to see. You're also going to see some governance changes, starting with my pick for the next chair of the High-Speed Rail Authority, Lenny Mendonca, my Economic Development director. Because, at the end of the day, transportation and economic development must go hand in hand." Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA Reminds Employers to Prevent Workplace Carbon Monoxide Exposure

OSHA Reminds Employers to Prevent Workplace Carbon Monoxide Exposure Carbon monoxide overexposure symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, or tightness across the chest. Severe overexposure can lead to neurological damage, coma, and death. Feb 14, 2019 OSHA issued a reminder Feb. 12 to employers to take necessary steps to protect workers from the serious and potentially deadly effects of carbon monoxide exposure. The reminder follows recent incidents highlighting the need to educate employers and workers about the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure from portable generators and other equipment within enclosed spaces. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas, so it is important that employers and workers are familiar with the symptoms of overexposure. Carbon monoxide overexposure symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, or tightness across the chest. Severe overexposure can lead to neurological damage, coma, and death. Carbon monoxide poisoning leads to the deaths of workers every year, usually when fuel-burning equipment and tools are used in buildings or semi-enclosed spaces that aren’t properly ventilated. The danger increases during the winter, when this type of equipment is used in indoor areas that have been sealed tightly against cold temperatures and wind. In addition to space heaters and portable generators, carbon monoxide sources can include anything that uses combustion to operate, like power tools, compressors, pumps, welding equipment, furnaces, gas-powered forklifts, and motorized vehicles. According to OSHA, employees can reduce the risk of workplace carbon monoxide exposure by installing an effective ventilation system, avoiding the use of fuel-burning equipment and vehicles in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces, and using carbon monoxide detectors in areas where the hazard may exist. Employers should also take other precautions as outlined in the agency's Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet. Additional OSHA resources on carbon monoxide include videos, QuickCards, and a fact sheet on portable generator safety. Let's block ads! (Why?)

NRC Holding Public Meeting Feb. 13 on Seabrook License Extension

NRC Holding Public Meeting Feb. 13 on Seabrook License Extension The Massachusetts congressional delegation, U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Congressman Seth Moulton, had called on the NRC to hear community concerns and address ongoing safety issues before renewing or amending the license for the plant. Feb 12, 2019 Three weeks after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to delay granting a 20-year license extension for the Seabrook nuclear power plant and to hear comments from the community about the possible extension, NRC's staff will hold a public meeting Feb. 13 in Hampton, N.H., to provide information on the licensing actions involving Seabrook Station. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Best Western Plus – The Inn at Hampton, 815 Lafayette Road. Registration for anyone seeking to speak at the meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. NextEra Energy Resources, owner and operator of the plant, applied to the NRC in June 2010 for a 20-year license extension for the facility. In notifications issued on Jan. 11, 2018, the NRC staff indicated it intended to issue a license amendment on concrete degradation at the plant on or about Jan. 22 and a renewed license for Seabrook on or about Jan. 30. The agency said "in response to significant public interest, the staff issued new notifications on Jan. 22 stating that the issuance of the licensing actions was being delayed and that staff intended to meet with the public to discuss the planned actions." Some of that public interest came from the Massachusetts congressional delegation. U.S. Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Congressman Seth Moulton called on the NRC to hear community concerns and address ongoing safety issues before renewing or amending the license for the plant. In their letter to the NRC, the lawmakers expressed concern with how the Seabrook plant operator plans to monitor, assess, and address structural degradation at the plant caused by alkali-silica reaction. "We are pleased to see that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided to prioritize public involvement when reviewing the applications to amend and renew the Seabrook Nuclear Plant operating license, as we requested last week," the Massachusetts lawmakers said in a statement after the public meeting was announced. "Local communities and concerned stakeholders have the right to be heard in this process. By rethinking its decision to approve the amendment and renewal before public hearings could take place, the NRC will now give community members the chance they deserve to highlight concerns over degraded concrete at the plant. We will be continuing to monitor the license amendment and renewal process closely, in order to ensure that Seabrook's operations are held to the highest standard of transparency and safety." Seabrook's initial 40-year operating license runs from 1990 to 2030. Let's block ads! (Why?)

U.S. Urgent Care Industry Grew 8 Percent Last Year

U.S. Urgent Care Industry Grew 8 Percent Last Year The Urgent Care Association reported Feb. 11 that, as of November 2018, the total number of urgent care centers in the United States reached 8,774, up 8 percent from the 8,125 centers in operation in 2017. Feb 12, 2019 The U.S. urgent care industry continues to grow as more patients seek on-demand care for non-emergency conditions, according to the annual Benchmarking Report from the Urgent Care Association, which reported that much of the growth is being fueled by a diversifying patient population calling for immediate access to specialized and on-demand medical care. "Urgent care centers play an increasingly vital role in the continuum of care, providing services for a wide array of patients who may be unable to see a primary care physician for various reasons, including simply not yet affiliating with one," said Laurel Stoimenoff, PT, CHC, CEO of UCA. "As a result, the patient populations utilizing urgent care centers are evolving, with Millennials leading the way in driving demand and increased utilization. And as Baby Boomers are aging into Medicare, we are also seeing year-over-year growth in that sector, as well." The association reported Feb. 11 that, as of November 2018, the total number of urgent care centers in the United States reached 8,774, up 8 percent from the 8,125 centers in operation in 2017. The 2018 Benchmarking Report indicates more than 70 percent of patients wait less than 20 minutes to see a provider at an urgent care center, and nearly 94 percent are seen in less than 30 minutes. In terms of total visit time, nearly 85 percent of patients are taken care of in less than 60 minutes. It also says 98 percent of patients seeking treatment in urgent care centers are in the right place, with only 2 percent being diverted to emergency departments for higher acuity care or diagnostics. It says the number of Medicare and Medicaid patients seeking services at urgent care centers continues to rise, accounting for nearly 27 percent of all visits in 2018. This can be attributed, in part, to Baby Boomers who were already using urgent centers and are now starting to tap into Medicare benefits. "Urgent care centers continue to expand their scope of services, catering to the needs of local patient populations," said Stoimenoff. "Specialty services such as occupational medicine, pediatric care, and telemedicine are becoming more prevalent, increasing access for patients across the country, particularly in underserved communities. These services help alleviate crowded emergency departments while reducing the impact of physician shortages in communities nationwide." UCA and Merchant Medicine collaborated on the annual report. Let's block ads! (Why?)

DOJ Awards Grant to Aid Victims of Las Vegas Mass Shooting

DOJ Awards Grant to Aid Victims of Las Vegas Mass Shooting The agency previously awarded a grant of more than $16 million to the state of Nevada to support these services. It is awarding $8.3 million to the California Victim Compensation Board to help meet critical long-term needs of victims of the 2017 mass shooting, compensating them for financial losses and medical expenses and providing services to victims and first responders. Feb 12, 2019 Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. deputy attorney general, announced Feb. 7 that the Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime will award more than $8.3 million to the California Victim Compensation Board to assist victims of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. Rosenstein made the announcement in a speech he gave at the Los Angeles Crimefighters Leadership Conference. "The Department of Justice is a law enforcement agency, but we don't just prosecute criminals—we also help their victims," he said, according to the transcript posted on the DOJ website. "Today I am announcing that our Office for Victims of Crime will award more than $8.3 million to the California Victim Compensation Board to support victims of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. The shooting claimed the lives of 58 people—and more than half of them from California. Thousands of California residents were present that day, and hundreds were seriously wounded. "Immediately after the shooting, we started working with officials from California and Nevada to meet the needs of victims, their families, first responders, and the community," Rosenstein continued. "We already awarded a grant of more than $16 million to the state of Nevada to support these services. Today's funding will help meet the critical long-term needs of victims, compensating them for financial losses and medical expenses and providing services to victims and first responders." Rosenstein touted the department's partnerships with law enforcement agencies, including its Public Safety Partnership program. DOJ began with 12 PSP cities in 2017, then expanded the program last fall, sending diagnostic teams to two more cities and operations teams to three others, he said. The newest PSP cities are Miami, Tulsa, and Kansas City, he added. Let's block ads! (Why?)