OSHA

OSHA Launches a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program

On March 12, 2021, OSHA announced that it has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts at companies where there is the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting COVID-19. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

 

Why was the NEP Established and What is its Goal?

The NEP is in response to the January 21, 2021 Presidential Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, which directs OSHA to focus its enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at increased risk for acquiring COVID-19 in the workplace, and on employers that engage in retaliation against employees who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions related to SARS-CoV-2 exposure.

Per the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick, “This program seeks to substantially […]

Beta Mercaptoethanol In Use. Dr. John, Stay Far, Far Away!

“Beta Mercaptoethanol In Use. Dr. John, Stay Far, Far Away!” featured in Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research, Volume 2, tells a real-life story about what can happen when safety procedures aren’t followed in a lab decommissioning. Read on to learn what happens:

Dr. John had walked up to my cubicle “Lucy, can you help me figure something out? Once in a while, I don’t feel so good after work. Kind of sneezy and nauseous at the same time. I felt that way last night again.”

I looked up from my paperwork. I was filling out the final round of paperwork for a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) permit. That was part of my job as a consulting safety officer. My client was setting up another new lab in Kendall Square. Even though Kendall Square was getting really cramped with biotech companies, my client wanted to stay because, in their CEO’s words, “it’s where […]

March is National Ladder Safety Month!

The American Ladder Institute (ALI) is sponsoring its fifth annual National Ladder Safety Month to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities both at home and in the workplace.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, violations related to improper ladder use were number 5 on OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards list for fiscal year 2020.

In addition to the high number of OSHA violations (2,129 in fiscal year 2020), every year there are more than 300 fatalities due to ladder-related accidents and thousands of debilitating injuries. On average, 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries each year! ALI believes ladder accidents are preventable with better safety planning and training as well as continuous innovation in product design.

The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are to:

  • Decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
  • Increase the frequency that ladder safety training modules are viewed […]

 Top 10 OSHA Violations from 2020

On February 26, 2021, OSHA announced its preliminary list of the top 10 most frequently cited workplace standards for the fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020).

Although the top 10 list included all of the same standards cited for the fiscal year 2019, the ranking within the top 10 list changed for several standards including the Respiratory Protection Standard which moved from the fifth position to the third. The Fall Protection Standard remains the most frequently cited OSHA standard for the 10th consecutive year.

The top 10 most frequently cited standards for the fiscal year 2020 are:

  1. Fall Protection- General Requirements(1926.501)─ There were 5,424 violations including not having adequate fall protection in residential construction, unprotected sides and edges, and lack of fall protection systems for roofing work on low-slope roofs.
  2. Hazard Communication(1910.1200)─ There were 3,199 violations including lack of developing and/or implementing a written Hazard Communication Program, lack of adequate […]

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s first eye health and vision care nonprofit organization, has declared March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month.

Because one of the many negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase in screen time for many remote workers, Prevent Blindness is raising awareness of digital eye strain and providing tips on ways to decrease the effects of increased screen time. Prevent Blindness also recently launched its Take a Screen Time Out awareness campaign.

Symptoms of digital eye strain also referred to as computer vision syndrome, include tired, burning, or itching eyes, sore dry eyes, difficulty focusing, and headaches. To help reduce the effects of increased screen time, Prevent Blindness recommends:

  • Placing computer screens an arms distance (~25 to 26 inches) away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level
  • Using a document holder placed next to the computer screen (it should be close enough so you don’t have to […]

A Mouse and a Needlestick

“A Mouse and a Needlestick” featured in Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research, Volume 3, tells a real-life story about what can happen when safety procedures aren’t followed in animal care facilities. Read on to learn what happens:

I had just started a new job in an Animal Care Facility at an academic research lab in the heart of Kendall Square. I had three years of lab experience. I was confident in my new role and new procedures. I learned the hard way that I was overconfident.

A New Procedure

During my first month of on-the-job training, I learned how to do intraperitoneal (IP) injections into the body cavities of mice. We were working with a blank carrier and with a pretty potent chemical that basically stimulates the blood stem cells to evacuate the bone marrow. We did this to collect bone cells.

I’d done the IP Injection three or four times with no problems. So, […]

OSHA Issues Proposed Rule to Update the Hazard Communication Standard

On February 16, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to amend the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The current HCS was last updated in 2012 to align the standard with the third revision of the United Nations (UN) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The proposed changes are to update the HCS to align it with the seventh revised edition of the GHS.

Highlights of the proposed changes include:

Definitions

  • Updates to three existing definitions (exposure/exposed, hazardous chemical, physical hazard)
  • Addition of eight new definitions (bulk shipment, combustible dust, gas, liquid, solid, immediate outer package, physician or other licensed health-care professional (PLHCP), and released for shipment)

Hazard Classification

  • Clarification that the hazard classification has to consider both normal considerations of use and foreseeable emergencies
  • Additional requirements that the hazard classification must include any hazards associated with a change in the chemical’s physical form or […]

Are You Ready for the March 1st Tier II Reporting Deadline?

Section 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) describes reporting requirements for facilities that possess chemicals above established reporting thresholds. For those facilities subject to reporting, submission of a Tier II Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Form to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and local Fire Department is required by March 1st of every year for the previous calendar year.

These reporting requirements allow state and local emergency response and planning committees to be aware of the hazardous materials present within their communities and to prepare for emergency responses.

Which facilities have to report?

Facilities storing a hazardous chemical that is an Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS) in an amount equal to or greater than 500 pounds or above the Threshold Planning Quantity (TPQ), whichever is lower, are required to submit Tier II reports. EHS and TPQs can be found in 40 CFR part 355 Appendix B and the EPA’s […]

OSHA Violations and the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

Did you know that the most frequent cause of OSHA violations related to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is outdated, or otherwise non-compliant, Exposure Control Plans?

It is generally known in the biotech community that Exposure Control Plans are required to be in place for any facility working with blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM). What is often overlooked is that there is a specific regulatory requirement to update the Plan.

The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (in section 1910.1030(c)(1)(iv) ) specifies that the Exposure Control Plan must be reviewed and updated at least annually and whenever necessary to include new or modified tasks and procedures which affect occupational exposure and to address new or revised employee positions with occupational exposure.

The review and update of the Exposure Control Plan must also reflect changes in technology that eliminate or reduce exposure to bloodborne pathogens and document annually consideration and implementation of appropriate commercially available and effective safer medical […]

Remember to Post OSHA Form 300A!

OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, is used to summarize the recordable injuries and illnesses for the previous year and includes the number of days work was lost or restricted, and the types of injuries and illnesses that occurred.

Information about the company, including the average number of employees and total hours worked by all employees, must also be recorded.

Form 300A must be posted from February 1 through April 30 each year.  If no recordable incidents or illnesses occurred during the previous year, the form must still be completed and posted reflecting zero recordable cases. The information in Form 300A is based on information recorded in OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. However, certain employers are exempt from these reporting requirements.

Employers with 10 or fewer employees are not required to prepare Form 300 or Form 300A. In addition, only industries within certain North American Industrial Classification (NAICS) codes are […]