The Whistleblower Protection Program from OSHA
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has responsibility for enforcement of twenty-one whistleblower statutes which protect employees who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.
Any employee who has been retaliated against by their employer for any protected activity under the whistleblower statutes can file a compliant with OSHA. The law requires that complaints be filed within a certain number of days after the alleged retaliation. The amount of time allowed for filing complaints depends on which law covers a particular violation. Time allowances vary… Continue reading
Airline Ground Safety Panel and OSHA Join Hands Again in Alliance
The OSHA Alliance Program was implemented in 2004 to promote cooperative interaction between OSHA and trade and professional associations, companies, labor unions, educational institutions, and other government agencies. Its purpose is to share information and further discussion on safety and health issues to improve worker protections. The Alliances formed through the program are voluntary.
OSHA has announced that it has renewed its Alliance through this program with the Airline Ground Safety Panel. A joint industry and labor partnership consisting of 11 airline companies and three unions that employ and represent 350,000 workers, the Airline Ground Safety Panel accounts for about 85 percent of those employed in the airline… Continue reading
On October 2, 2012 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it is launching an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) pilot program that will help resolve disputes between complainants to OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.
The pilot program will be implemented in the two regions headquartered in Chicago and San Francisco and will last for one year. The Chicago Regional Office is responsible for investigations of whistleblower complaints filed in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio. The San Francisco Regional Office is responsible for investigations of whistleblower complaints filed in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada, as well as various Pacific Islands including the commonwealth of the Northern Marian Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.
OSHA enforces… Continue reading
Hearing Loss in the Workplace Linked to Ambient Noise
Current OSHA standards for noise levels in the workplace require that workers exposed to an average of 90 decibels, about as loud as truck traffic, for eight hours, wear hearing protection. When the volume increases by five decibels, according to OSHA’s measurements, the noise dose is doubled, so the permissible exposure time is cut in half. In other words, if the noise level reaches 95 decibels, the maximum exposure requiring hearing protection is four hours. Higher noise levels, even with hearing protection, are considered unacceptable and unsafe.
Though one might think that factories with heavy machinery would be the most common workplaces where high noise levels are found, but… Continue reading
Earlier this year, OSHA issued a memorandum on the subject of employer safety incentive and disincentive policies and practices. The memorandum addresses programs that some employers have instituted that discourage workers from reporting injuries using such methods as disciplining the employees when they report an injury. This practice violates 29 C.F.R. 1904.35(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which addresses work-related reporting of injuries and illnesses, and violates section 11c as well as other whistleblower statutes. The memorandum states that retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination under section 11c. The Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) prohibits this discrimination against employees in the railroad industry.
The entire workforce is put at… Continue reading
On August 17, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues a direct final rule and notice of proposed rulemaking which applies the requirements of an August 2010 standard for cranes and derricks in construction to demolition work and underground construction.
This direct final rule corrects errors in the 2010 rulemaking and applies the same rules on cranes used in other construction sectors to those used in underground construction and demolition. The new wording of the rule makes the standards easier to understand and implement and applying the same standards for all sectors will make enforcement simpler and more efficient.
The direct final rule becomes effective on November 15, 2012 provided no significant adverse comment is received… Continue reading
On the eve of the eleventh anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced that new federal rules have expanded the list of diseases covered by the health care fund for September 11 first responders. The list now includes certain types of cancer. NIOSH made the changes after reviewing scientific evidence which suggests that toxic dust and fumes from the buildings are linked to diseases, including cancer.
In a statement released by NIOSH late Monday afternoon Dr. John Howard said, “The publication of this final rule marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors through the WTC Health Program.”… Continue reading
Three Miami-based contractors and four San Antonio-based subcontractors have been cited for 45 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation for exposing workers at a San Antonio construction site to asbestos hazards. The proposed penalties for these violations is $148,000.
The violations include failure to:
• train workers on the hazards of working with asbestos
• abate asbestos hazards and ensure that employees work in regulated areas
• perform air monitoring for asbestos exposure
• use the required engineering controls to prevent exposure
• require the use of proper respiratory and personal protective equipment
• ensure than an asbestos assessment is performed by a qualified person
The Miami-based contractors include: Newport Property Ventures LLC, who was issued citations for… Continue reading
New Campaign On Reducing Falls Announced by OSHA
When it comes to fatalities in Construction, falls lead the list. In 2010, out of 774 total fatalities, 264 of those were from falls, a whopping 35%!. The grand majority of those were falls to a lower level (97%). As such, OSHA has set their Fall, 2012 Prevention Campaign to address this vital area of safety.
Using the watchwords PLAN – PROVIDE – TRAIN, OSHA is partnering with NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath) and the Construction sector of NORA (National Occupational Research Agenda) to raise awareness among workers and employers regarding common fall hazards in construction. This includes focus areas such as falls from ladders, scaffolds and roof-tops.… Continue reading