Monday, March 28, 2016

OSHA announces final rule to improve U.S. workers' protection from the dangers of respirable silica dust.

OSHA today announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

"The previous exposure limits were outdated and did not adequately protect workers," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Limiting exposure to silica dust is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. Today, we are taking action to bring worker protections into the 21st century in ways that are feasible and economical for employers to implement."

About 2.3 million men and women face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing. OSHA estimates that when the final rule becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year

Most employers can limit harmful dust exposure by using equipment that is widely available – generally using water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to remove it from the air. The rule provides greater compliance assistance to construction employers – many of which run small businesses – by including a table of specified controls they can follow to be in compliance. The rule also staggers compliance dates to ensure employers have sufficient time to meet its requirements.

The final rule is written as two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. In addition to reducing the the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica, the rule includes employer requirements such as limiting worker exposure through work practices and engineering controls (such as water or ventilation); providing respiratory protection when controls are insufficient; training workers; limiting their access to high exposure areas and providing medical exams to highly exposed workers.
For more information, see the news release—available in English and Spanish—and a blog post by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, which includes a video featuring one worker's personal experience with silicosis. Visit OSHA's silica rule webpage for factsheets, answers to frequently asked questions, and to sign up for email updates on compliance dates and resources.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Evaluation: First year of OSHA injury reporting requirement.

Evaluation: First year of OSHA injury reporting requirement helps agency engage with employers and focus resources where needed.

Since Jan. 1, 2015, employers have been required to report any severe work-related injury – defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye – within 24 hours. (The requirement to report a fatality within 8 hours was unchanged.)

During the first full year of a new reporting requirement, employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations. For more statistics and the evaluation of the impact of the new requirements, see the full report*
In the majority of cases, OSHA asked employers to conduct their own incident investigations and propose remedies to prevent future injuries. OSHA provided employers with guidance materials to assist them in this process. Known as a Rapid Response Investigation, this collaborative, problem-solving approach invites the employer and an area OSHA expert to work together toward the shared goal of fixing hazards and improving overall workplace safety. At other times, the agency determined that the hazards described warranted a worksite inspection.
"In case after case, the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers we wouldn't have had contact with otherwise," said report author David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "The result is safer workplaces for thousands of workers." Read Dr. Michaels' blog for examples of workplace safety success stories that resulted from collaboration between employers and OSHA.

An evaluation of 2015 results found that the requirement met its intended goals of helping OSHA focus resources where they are most needed, and engaging employers in high-hazard industries to identify and eliminate hazards.

"OSHA will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness," Dr. Michaels wrote in the report. "And we are seeking new ways to make sure that small employers know about their reporting obligations and the resources available to them."


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Illinois Fatalities

Too many preventable injuries, illnesses and fatalities continue to occur in Illinois
Workers and families should never accept the risk of death as a condition for employment
In Illinois about one person each week dies in a workplace accident

Commit to a Safe and Healthy Workplace in 2016

Workplace Safety Happens on Purpose – Not By Accident

Illinois Fatalities

Employers must plan for a safe and healthy workplace by developing a good safety and health program that includes:   management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. The basic idea behind these programs is to change the workplace culture by developing a process to identify and fix hazards.

Evaluate for workplace hazards
Attend all workplace safety and health training
Ensure machinery, tools, and work areas are in good working order
Follow workplace safety and health procedures and review them frequently
Develop procedures to eliminate those hazards

Provide PPE to employees and enforce its use
Maintain and wear issued PPE
Train employees on safe operating procedures and retrain frequently
Don’t take short cuts
Encourage employees to report workplace hazards
Report unsafe conditions and near misses

“Making a living shouldn't have to cost you your life. Workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are preventable. Safe jobs happen because employers make the choice to fulfill their responsibilities and protect their workers.”
— Dr. David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

OSHA realizes that most employers want to do the right thing and protect their workers from harm on the job.  OSHA is committed to providing assistance. We provide free on-site consultation to small employers, as well as other compliance assistance, educational materials and training.  We want to make sure that no business in this country fails to protect its workers because it can't afford good safety information or can't understand how to comply with safety and health standards. The Illinois On-site Consultation Program phone number is (800)972-4216. You can find On-site Consultation Program information for other State’s by visiting the consultation page at OSHA's Web site,

For more information go to WWW.OSHA.GOV or contact your nearest local OSHA office:

  Aurora Area Office
  365 Smoke Tree Plaza
  N. Aurora, Illinois  60542
  (630) 896-8700
  (630) 892-2160 FAX

Calumet City Area Office
1600 167th Street
Suite  9
Calumet City, Illinois  60409
(708) 891-3800
(708) 862-9659 FAX
Chicago North Area Office
701 Lee Street
Suite  950
Des Plaines, Illinois  60016
(847) 803-4800
(847) 390-8220 FAX

Fairview Heights Area Office
11 Executive Drive
Suite  11
Fairview Heights, Illinois  62208
(618) 632-8612
(618) 632-5712 FAX

Peoria Area Office
1320 West Commerce Dr
Suite  800
Peoria, Illinois  61615
(309) 589-7033
(309) 589-7323 FAX

OSHA doesn't kill jobs; it helps prevent jobs from killing workers