OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires all businesses to post a version of the OSHA 300 form from February 1 to April 30.
OSHA 300 is a track record of all work-related illnesses or injuries that occurred in that company for a particular year. The 2008 OSHA form will contain information for all workplace accidents that took place in 2007. Posting this form in areas readily accessible to employees gives those workers an overall picture of how their company’s performing regarding workplace health and safety.
The Alabama OSHA 300 also allows companies to chart where the accidents occurred and how often they occurred in a particular workplace area. Since the cause or reason for the incident is included with the accident information, employers can use the form to pinpoint problem areas and determine the best way to handle those areas in the future.
OSHA is dedicated to preventing accidents in the workplaces. Sources from this federal agency state, ““Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.”
OSHA assists companies with keeping the workplace accident-free by providing employers with training classes in occupational health and safety. It also performs free on-site evaluations to help businesses detect and repair hazardous conditions. The agency also conducts inspections of the workplace and enforces all regulations relating to employee safety.
Not all employers in the county are covered by OSHA. Under federal law, a few industries have established their own employee safety organizations. For example, the mining industry is regulated by MSHA (Mining Safety and Health Agency).
Safety standards for mining carry some unique regulations, much different from the average business. The Department of Transportation imposes many regulations on the transportation industry, including railroads. Many of these regulations related to employee safety.
Preventing illnesses and accidents in the workplace comes under the jurisdiction of occupational safety and health agencies. Twenty-two states in the union have established their own agencies. The rest of the nation is covered by the federal OSHA, (Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
States that establish their own agency must be approved by the federal government. The process begins with a developmental plan and ends with certification. To obtain certification, the state must guarantee the federal government that it will be able to efficiently operate its agency within three years.
Washington has its own state agency, WOSHA (Washington Occupational Safety and Health Administration) .Regulations require that a state agency be at least as effective as the federal OSHA, so most state programs follow the federal one. Washington’s agency is just such an agency. WOSHA, like the federal OSHA, conducts safety inspections of workplace environments. It also provides occupational safety and health training classes. Also like the federal program, WOSHA performs on-site evaluations, free of charge, to assist companies in identifying and correcting any hazards in the workplace.
California is another state with its own agency. This agency not only follows federal standards, but has enhanced them. In addition to the workplace hazards OSHA requires employers to post California has identified additional hazards and posts those as well.
Whether covered under state or federal regulations, all employers must post a version of the OSHA 300 form. The OSHA 300 tracks work-related injuries and illnesses, and must be posted every year from February 1 to April 30. This forma provides employees a means of gauging the safety of their company.
OSHA works to prevent illness and injury in the workplace, and urges all employers to remind workers of the importance of safety and health on the job. In addition, all companies should ensure that employees follow proper safety precautions in the workplace.
With a second major winter cold-air system moving through Alabama, OSHA has renewed warnings regarding the dangers of cold stress, hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot.
While employers in northern climes are accustomed to the hazards of cold, wind and wet conditions, southern employees need to be extra vigilant during this season.
A recent storm system has spread snow, rain and sleet across the Southeast, including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Highs in the upper teens and low twenties can be life-threatening for outdoor workers who are unprepared.
The unexpected snowfall has resulted in many schools and businesses being closed. Still, other businesses continue to operate. Emergency workers and utility workers are particularly at risk, because they have to be on the job no matter how inclement the weather is.
On Sunday night, a mixture of rain, sleet and snow spread across the region, resulting in multiple-car accidents and shutting down many airport runways.
As much as 5 inches of snow fell in parts of Alabama. The last major snowfall in the area occurred in March 1993, when 16 inches of snow fell.
Although Florida escaped the icy storm, two tornados were reportedly touched down along the west coast Saturday afternoon, although no injuries were reported.
With high temperatures over the weekend in the teens, parts of Alabama were less then 10 degrees warmer than in Chicago, on the frosty shores of Lake Michigan.
In early January, powerful thunderstorms and high winds pushed through Alabama, causing injuries and property damage. At least two houses were destroyed in Sulligent, in Lamar County Alabama, near the Mississippi state line.
In Choctaw County, a woman was injured and barns at a dairy farm were damaged during the storm’s peak winds.
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns employers that cold weather in the workplace can be hazardous to outdoor employees. Workers involved in agriculture, construction, and road work and snow removal are particularly at risk during cold weather.
Hazards of working in cold weather include trench foot, cold stress, hypothermia and frostbite.
OSHA states that these conditions can occur in relatively moderate temperatures. If employees are exposed to windy, rainy and wet conditions, or if they must stand in water, cold stress and hypothermia can occur even at 50 degrees. To aid employees, OSHA recently sent out an alert with detailed steps on how the worker can avoid illness and injury.
One of the important ways to avoid the dangers of cold stress and other problems is for outdoor employees to work in pairs. Each worker can watch the other for signs and symptoms, which include drowsiness, fatigue and clumsy movements. Workers suffering from cold stress can also appear slightly blue, be irrational and have slurred speech and uncontrolled shivering.
A worker who shows any of these signs should get help immediately. Supervisors or coworkers must call emergency services and then move the employee to a dry, warm area. Wet clothing, if possible, should be removed and replaced either with dry clothing or with blankets.
Movement can increase body heat. If the employee is able have him or her move his or her legs. If movement isn’t a possibility, apply warm water bottles or hot packs to the groin area and under the arms, plus around the head and neck.
Do not give the injured person alcohol. Caffeinated drinks are not recommended either, as they can actually slow the warming process. Instead, give beverages that are warm and sweet like sugar water and warmed sports drinks.
Do not rub the injured person’s skin or put him or her in a hot bath or shower. Warming a body too quickly can be harmful and can result in heart failure.
Alabama employers need to be aware that many changes in labor laws occurred during 2007, and will occur in 2008. As a result, these employers will need to update their labor law posters. The coming New Year is a good time to ensure posters are current.
One of the major changes during 2007 related to minimum wage. The federal minimum wage, as a result of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, went from $5.15 to $5.58 per hour. Nearly a dozen states increased their minimum wage on the same day.
Also, during the 2007, several other states, including Utah, Washington, Oregon, and West Virginia increased their state minimum wage.
The complete list of 2008 Alabama labor law posters that every employer should have includes:
Workers’ Compensation Fraud Notice
Alabama Child Labor
In addition, federal law requires all employers in Alabama to display up-to-date copies of the following posters:
USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
IRS Withholding Notice
Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
Federal Minimum Wage
Employee Polygraph Protection Act
Family and Medical Leave Act
OSHA-Job Safety & Health Protection
Both state and federal law require that every employer prominently display the posters in an area where they can been seen by every employee. Popular locations are a bulletin board, near the time clock or in the break room.
The most common reason for employers to update posters includes statute changes, especially to minimum wage laws. In just the past few months, employers in New Hampshire, Nevada and Maine have updated their labor law posters as the state minimum wages changed. The most recent increase was on October 1, 2007 when the New Hampshire minimum wage increased to $6.50 per hour.
A number of changes in 2008 will require employers to update their posters during the year. The federal minimum wage will jump from $5.85 to $6.55 on July 24, 2008. On the same day, the states that raised their minimum with the last bump in the federal minimum wage will enact increases again.
More than a dozen states will increase their minimum wages on January 1, 2008. These include Delaware, Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri, Montanan and Ohio. The lowest rates to be increased is in Montana, where the state minimum wage will increase from $6.15 per hour to $6.26. In Missouri and New Mexico, the state rate will go to $6.50.
After the increase, the nation’s highest minimum wage will be in Washington state, where the minimum wage will be $8.07 per hour. Both California and Massachusetts plan increases to $8.00 per hour, while the state rate in Oregon goes to $7.95.
Smoking in the workplace was another changed that took place in 2007. Both Illinois and Ohio enacted new, tough laws banning smoking at work. Ohio employers had to post no-smoking signs at every workplace, at every entrance. In Illinois, the ban on smoking extends to nearly every place of employment, including casinos, bars and restaurants.
In Alaska a smoking related change was made to the Child Labor Laws regarding selling cigarettes. The law currently bans anyone under the age of 19 from buying cigarettes, but until October, teens could work at establishments such as gas stations and convenient stores which sold cigarettes. Concern arose that these teens when working alone, could sell cigarettes to underage pals. Partly due to this concern, the law was amended to also prohibit anyone under the age of 19 from selling cigarettes.
If companies and businesses haven’t already made the relevant changes to their 2008 labor law posters, they should do so as soon as possible. If the information isn’t updated, the employers could be considered in violation of the law and subject to a fine.
Alabama worker safety should be positively affected by changes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is making in its policies. The dangers faced by workers in oil refineries are the focus of these changes. Following the tragic explosion in the BP refinery in Alabama City, Alabama in 2005, an investigation was launched. The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, CSB, compiled a report on the explosion, which was presented at a recent hearing.
“The refinery industry has been a major focus for OSHA, and the CSB report confirms we are on the right track,” explained Edwin G. Foulke Jr., Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. “OSHA already has implemented two of the CSB’s three major recommendations and increased our inspections in the refining industry.”
The Texas City, Texas oil refinery exploded in 2005, injuring 100 employees and killing 15. The refinery contributed approximately 3% of the nation’s crude oil processing capability. With 1,800 employees, the daily processing capability of the Alabama City refinery was 433,000 barrels of crude oil.
To prevent another accident, OSHA is conducting inspections of oil refineries. Last year, the agency inspected over 100 refineries. This year, 50 inspections have taken place so far. Unfortunately, during an inspection of a BP refinery in Ohio, inspectors found the same problems and violations that caused the Texas City explosion. OSHA’s conclusion was that the Texas City tragedy had taught BP nothing.
The need for inspections is vital. Assistant Secretary Foulke maintained, “To date, we have trained more than 160 OSHA staff in the principles of conducting a Process Safety Management (PSM) inspection, and by August of this year we will have 280 PSM-trained inspectors.”
The increase in the number of inspections will enable OSHA to inspect all the refineries that fall under its jurisdiction. These inspections will take place under the National Emphasis Program.
Alabama’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a warning to auto mechanics on the job. The warning concerns the safety issues involved with working with older model vehicles that may have asbestos in some parts. This warning is also something weekend mechanics doing auto repairs at home, as a hobby or as a side job may want to be mindful of.
In the recent Alabama worker safety alert, the concern is for the brake and clutch systems of vehicles produced before the US government issued a ban on asbestos in the automotive industry. Cars and trucks manufactured in recent years do not have parts made from asbestos. It’s the older vehicles manufactured before the ban that pose the health risk today.
The Alabama worker safety alert describes four safe handling procedures recommended when working on older vehicles. Above and beyond these recommended procedures, OSHA strongly suggests that anyone in the vicinity of an older model vehicle when the brakes or clutch system are being repaired is to expect that asbestos is present.
Each year, more than 10,000 Americans die from diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and the lungs are common causes of death from asbestos exposure. Painful, crippling cases of asbestosis and mesothelioma also come from exposure to asbestos and contribute to the number of annual fatalities due to exposure to this dangerous substance.
OSHA cites the low cleaning / wet pressure cleaning and the negative pressure enclosure / HEPA vacuum system methods as the “best practices” to use when handling asbestos-containing parts.
In smaller repair shops that see no more than five repair tickets for brake and clutch systems in a week, OSHA accepts the wet method. Although less effective than other procedures, it is allowed for job sites where there is limited exposure.
In some cases, the spray can / solvent measure is allowed. Regardless of handling procedures, wetting the asbestos is important to minimize the number of tiny particles in the air. Inhaling these particles can cause the terminal illnesses attributed to asbestos exposure.
It is also highly recommended that all parts of a vehicle that might contain asbestos be stored in a clearly labeled and tightly sealed bag.