A fire extinguisher is often times looked upon as a safety device and therefore many overlook these devices potential hazards.  It is true, they can save lives, but they can also take lives and limbs as was the case in this accident.  Back in February, as I reported in the Incident Alerts, two workers were severely injured when a fire extinguisher shell was being used as an air receiver, of which had NO RELIEF VALVE.  This happened at a fire protection company.  The shell catastrophically failed when they were pressurizing it and the accident claimed BOTH legs of a 35-year-old worker and one leg below the knew of a 23-year-old worker.  OSHA has issued their citations...

This case is significant in a number of ways:  1) manufacturer of the equipment put warning signs on their machines pointing out the hazard(s), 2) manufacturer considered the "doors" on their CNC mills and lathes to be "guards", 3) manufacturer installed interlocks on the "doors" (i.e. guards), 4) company bought the machines "used" and many of the interlocks were not operational at the time of purchase, 5) one machine did have a functioning interlock, which was bypassed by tying back it's arm, 6) The VP of the company and the most senior operator felt the machines were safe, 7) neither of these two employees had any training in machine guarding or safety, 8) the company had been cited for machine guarding years earlier and had a serious injury on these machines.  OSHA began their inspection based on an employee complaint and issued a willful citation for unguarded CNC lathes and mills.  OSHA said the "doors" were guards, based on the manufacturer's operation manual, manufacturer's labels on the machines making reference to them as "guards" and the presence of the interlocks on the doors.  The OSHRC agreed and upheld the citation as willful and the full amount.  Here is the arguments the company made against OSHA's citations...

This past week I worked with a client who's safety contact is the HR manager and we had several discussions about OSHA's revised recordkeeping requirements and all the recent reporting changes.  One thing I noticed is that ALL MANUFACTURING facilities are considered "high risk" and are on the list of NAICS's number that must report.  So the "list" of high-risk industries is not very specific!  But one thing that is stirring a lot of discussion is OSHA's official position on "post-accident" drug testing.  OSHA stated in the preamble...

Holy cow batman, have we really come to this in the safety profession?!?!?!  An apprentice is crushed to death while standing inside (or technically under) a "machine" looking at some fans he was going to be working on, while the facility technician was performing the LOTO on "the machine".  To get this "machine" to the zero energy state, the technician had to release counter weights (e.g. release stored energy) which in turn killed the apprentice who happen to be standing under one of the counter weights when the energy was released.  The ALJ found that since the contractor was intending to work on "the fans" inside/under "the machine" and since the apprentice was not killed by the fans he was inspecting at the time, that LOTO did not apply to the contractor being inside/under "the machine" and vacated the citation.  The decision made it to the full commission review and the commission was split in their position so it defaulted back to the ALJ's decision and the citation was vacated.  How anyone could come to the conclusion that 1910.147 did not apply here is just amazing!  Here is the case info - LESSON to be learned... Legal does equate to something being SAFE!  I have posted BOTH decisions from the two commissioners, which one do you think was right?

In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The Department of Labor is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  OSHA's maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Going forward, the agency will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.  The new penalties will take effect after August 1, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

Type of Violation Current Maximum Penalty New Maximum Penalty



Posting Requirements

 $7,000 per violation $12,471 per violation
Failure to Abate    $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date       $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date   
Willful or Repeated $70,000 per violation $124,709 per violation


Adjustments to Penalties

To provide guidance to field staff on the implementation of the new penalties, OSHA will issue revisions to its Field Operations Manual by August 1. To address the impact of these penalty increases on smaller businesses, OSHA will continue to provide penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.

The final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. The final rule requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation; clarifies the existing implicit requirement that an employer' s procedure for reporting workrelated injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. These provisions under§ 1904.35 become effective August 10, 2016.

In order to provide the opportunity to conduct additional outreach to the regulated community, we have decided to delay enforcement of these provisions until November 1, 2016. We are currently developing educational materials for employers and enforcement guidance for your staff that will be made available shortly. Please instruct your staff to provide these materials to employers that are subject to the requirements under § 1904.35 and to provide guidance on what steps the employers can take to ensure that they are in compliance with the new provisions when enforcement begins on November 1, 2016.

CLICK HERE for the official memo

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