OSHA Releases Chemical Exposure Health Data

OSHA recently released 25+ years worth of industrial hygiene sampling data as a part of the “Open Government” initiative.

OSHA takes industrial hygiene samples as part of its compliance monitoring program. Many of these samples are submitted to the Salt Lake Technical Center for analysis. Sampling data represent personal, area, and bulk samples for various airborne contaminants.

Personal sampling results represent the exposure to the individual who was actually wearing a sampling device. Area samples are taken in a fixed location and results may represent the potential risk from airborne contaminants or physical agents to workers in that area. Bulk samples were taken to verify if certain constituents are present and if so, in what concentration. Bulk samples are used individually or in conjunction with personal or area samples to help interpret the level of worker risk.

OSHA compliance officers do not:

  • Routinely visit every business which use chemicals known to be toxic.
  • Take representative samples of every employee and every activity on every day.
  • Always obtain a sample for an entire (8-hour) period or shift.

OSHA compliance officers do:

  • Target and visit certain industries based on National and regional emphasis programs.
  • Have limited time to conduct an inspection and cannot completely characterize all exposures for all employees, every day.
  • Use professional judgment and often attempt to evaluate worse case chemical exposure scenarios.
  • Develop a snapshot picture of potentially hazardous chemical exposures and use field evaluation tools to assess their significance: often comparing their measured airborne concentrations of chemicals against established standards.

Source:  OSHA.gov

Free OSHA PowerPoint Presentation Templates

A number of free OSHA applicable PowerPoint templates are available on OHShub.com. Below you will find some of the major OSHA topics that you can download and tailor to suit your needs.

Note: All presentations are in .ppt (PowerPoint) format. 

  • Egress, Emergency Action Plans, Fire Prevention, etc.

      EgressFirePPT.ppt (2.7 MiB, 257 hits)

NIOSH Offers Free Health Hazard Evaluations

Much in the same way that OSHA offers free onsite health and safety consulting services, NIOSH has a similar program for workplaces.  A Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE), offered by NIOSH, is a study of hazardous materials or harmful conditions in the workplace.  Taking the form of an interview, site visit and evaluation, or helpful information, the HHE provides the NIOSH findings and/or recommendations to the employer in the effort to reduce the hazard of issue.

To request a NIOSH HHE, click HERE.

1. When to request an HHE from NIOSH

You are an employee, employee representative, or employer and the following apply:

  • Employees have an illness from an unknown cause.
  • Employees are exposed to an agent or working condition that is not regulated by OSHA.
  • Employees experience adverse health effects from exposure to a regulated or unregulated agent or working condition, even though the permissible exposure limit is not being exceeded.
  • Medical or epidemiological investigations are needed to evaluate the hazard.
  • The incidence of a particular disease or injury is higher than expected in a group of employees.
  • The exposure is to a new or previously unrecognized hazard.
  • The hazard seems to result from the combined effects of several agents.

2. When to request help from the OSHA Consultation Program

You are a small business owner and you want:

  • assistance in recognizing hazards in your workplace.
  • suggestions or options for correcting safety and health issues.
  • assistance in developing or maintaining an effective safety and health program.
  • to reduce workers compensation cost and improve employee morale..

The OSHA On-site Consultation Program:

  • is a free service.
  • is delivered by state (and territorial) governments using well-trained safety and health professionals.
  • is separate from enforcement.
  • is confidential. The company’s name, and any other identifying information provided about the workplace, plus any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers, will not routinely be reported to OSHA enforcement personnel.
  • does not issue and citations, penalties, or fines.
  • will provide you a confidential, written report that summarizes the consultant’s findings.
  • requires the correction of hazards identified by the consultant(s).
  • under specific circumstances, employers with exemplary safety and health programs can be recommend for recognition and provided with an exclusion from general schedule inspections.

OSHA Provides New Electric Power eTool

Workers in the electric power industry are potentially exposed to a variety of serious hazards, such as arc flashes (which include arc flash burn and blast hazards), electric shock, falls, and thermal burn hazards that can cause injury and death. This eTool seeks to inform employers of their obligations to develop the appropriate hazard prevention and control methodologies designed to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

Items addressed in the eTool include:

  • Overview
  • Scope
  • Generation vs. Transmission and Distribution
  • Medical Services and First Aid
  • Hazard Assessment and Job Briefing
  • Energized vs. Deenergized Work
  • Hazardous Energy Control
  • Grounding for Employee Protection
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Insulating Protective Equipment (IPE)
  • Enclosed Spaces and Working Underground
  • Overhead Line Work
  • Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Industry e Tool – Illustrated Glossary (02/2004)
  • Glossary of Terms

The eTool also serves to empower workers engaged in the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power to understand the steps their employers must implement in order to provide them with a safe and healthful work environment.

The full scope of the Electric Power eTool can be found HERE.

15,000 Workplaces Receive Letters from OSHA

OSHA recently sent out 15,000 letters to workplaces with the highest DART (days away, restricted, transferred) rates.  (For a DART calculator, see OHShub.com’s post HERE).  For every 100 full-time workers, the 15,000 employers had 4.5 or more injuries or illnesses which resulted in days away from work, restricted work or job transfer. The national average is 2.0.

Suggestions provided by OSHA to reduce the DART rate included:

  • Hiring an outside safety and health consultant
  • Talking with your insurance carrier, or
  • Contacting your state’s workers’ compensation agency for advice

A copy of the letter is available HERE.


For a list of the 15,000 workplaces, click HERE.

Source: OSHA.gov

Video Replay: OSHA Listens Public Meeting

On Thursday, March 4, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held a public meeting, “OSHA Listens,” to solicit comments and suggestions from OSHA stakeholders on key issues facing the agency, including:

  1. What can the agency do to enhance and encourage the efforts of employers, workers and unions to identify and address workplace hazards?
  2. What are the most important emerging or unaddressed health and safety issues in the workplace, and what can OSHA do to address these?
  3. How can the agency improve its efforts to engage stakeholders in programs and initiatives?
  4. What specific actions can the agency take to enhance the voice of workers in the workplace, particularly workers who are hard to reach, do not have ready access to information about hazards or their rights, or are afraid to exercise their rights?
  5. Are there additional measures to improve the effectiveness of the agency’s current compliance assistance efforts and the on site consultation program, to ensure that small businesses have the information needed to provide safe workplaces?
  6. Given the length and difficulty of the current OSHA rulemaking process, and given the need for new standards that will protect workers from unaddressed, inadequately addressed and emerging hazards, are there policies and procedures that will decrease the time to issue final standards so that OSHA may implement needed protections in a timely manner?
  7. As we continue to progress through a new information age vastly different from the environment in which OSHA was created, what new mechanisms or tools can the agency use to more effectively reach high risk employees and employers with training, education and outreach? What is OSHA doing now that may no longer be necessary?
  8. Are there indicators, other than worksite injuries and illness logs, that OSHA can use to enhance resource targeting?
  9. In the late 1980s, OSHA and its stakeholders worked together to update the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) (exposure limits for hazardous substances; most adopted in 1971), but the effort was unsuccessful. Should updating the PELs be a priority for the agency? Are there suggestions for ways to update the PELs, or other ways to control workplace chemical exposures?

Video replays of this event are available below: (more…)

Fact Sheet: Aligning HAZCOM with GHS

OSHA is proposing modifying the Hazard Communication Standard (HAZCOM) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).  Over 40 million workers in more than 5 million workplaces are expected to be impacted at a total cost of approximately $97 million per year to implement (costs to decrease to $42 million per year after initial period of familiarization).

HAZCOM currently:

  • Requires chemical manufacturers and importers to label containers and prepare MSDS’s
  • Requires employers to have a HAZCOM program for workers who have exposures or potential exposures

GHS will:

  • Adopts a standardized method of hazard classification leading to an increase in quality and consistency of information provided to employees and employers
  • Classifies chemicals by their health and physical hazards
  • Specifies hazard communication specifics for labelling and MSDS’s
  • Agreement at an international level

Major changes to HAZCOM:

  • Specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards of chemicals and mixtures
  • Manufacturers and importers must use standardized labelling methods that include signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement
  • MSDS’s will have a specific 16-section format
  • Workers must be trained within 2 years of the final rule on the recognition and understanding of the GHS labelling and MSDS system

Benefits of GHS:

  • Prevent 43 fatalities per year
  • Prevent 585 illnesses per year (more…)

MSD’s to be Added Back to OSHA 300 Log?

OSHA is proposing to revise its Recordkeeping regulation (29 CFR part 1904) to restore a column to the OSHA 300 Log that employers would use to record work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The 2001 Recordkeeping final regulation included an MSD column, but the requirement was deleted before it became effective. The proposed rule would require employers to place a check mark in the MSD column, instead of the column they mark now, if the case is an MSD and meets the general recording requirements of the Recordkeeping rule. The rule also proposes, for this recordkeeping purpose only, a definition of MSD that is identical to the one contained in the 2001 final Recordkeeping rule. In addition, OSHA proposes an entry for the total number of MSDs on the OSHA 300A form, the form that employers use to annually summarize their work-related injuries and illnesses (see 29 CFR 1904.32).

In 2003 OSHA deleted the MSD provisions (column and definition) from the 2001 Recordkeeping rule. However, after further consideration and analysis, the Agency believes that information generated from the MSD column will improve the accuracy and completeness of national occupational injury and illness statistics; will provide valuable and industry specific information to assist OSHA in effectively targeting its inspection, outreach, guidance and enforcement efforts to address workplace MSDs; and will provide useful establishment-level information that will help both employers and employees readily identify the incidence of MSDs.

OSHA stresses that the purpose of this rulemaking is solely to improve data gathering regarding work-related MSDs. The proposed rule does not require employers to take any action other than to check the MSD column on the OSHA 300 log if a work-related MSD case occurs that meets the general recording requirements of the Recordkeeping regulation. Unlike OSHA standards, the proposed rule does not require employers to implement controls to prevent and control employee exposure to an identified occupational hazard.

Source:  OSHA.gov

OSHA Publishes Hexavalent Chromium Booklet

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published Hexavalent Chromium, a booklet outlining industry requirements for hexavalent chromium standards. Workers exposed to this toxic chemical can develop lung cancer and damage to the nose, throat and respiratory system.

Inhaling the chemical’s fumes can cause allergic reactions or asthmatic symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath. Hexavalent chromium is used in pigments, metal finishing, wood preservatives and fungicides. Workers may also be exposed to hexavalent chromium fumes generated during welding of chromium metal alloys.

“Hexavalent chromium is a powerful lung carcinogen and exposure to this chemical must be minimized,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. “OSHA provides guidance on its standards to ensure that employers and workers know the best ways to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.”

The booklet explains OSHA’s hexavalent chromium standards in a reader-friendly format and is a companion document to the Small Entity Compliance Guide for the Hexavalent Chromium Standards published in 2006. Requirements for exposure limits, exposure monitoring and determination, protective work clothing and equipment, medical surveillance, communication of hexavalent chromium hazards and recordkeeping are described.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Source: OSHA.gov

OSHA Offers Free On-Site Safety Consulting Services


OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Service offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Consultation services are totally separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.

Program Information

Using a free consultation service largely funded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers can find out about potential hazards at their worksites, improve their occupational safety and health management systems, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.

The service is delivered by state governments using well-trained professional staff. Most consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available. Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, this safety and health consultation program is completely separate from the OSHA inspection effort. In addition, no citations are issued or penalties proposed.

It’s confidential, too. Your name, your firm’s name, and any information you provide about your workplace, plus any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions that the consultant uncovers, will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff.

Your only obligation will be to commit yourself to correcting serious job safety and health hazards — a commitment which you are expected to make prior to the actual visit and carry out in a timely manner.


Knowledge of your workplace hazards and ways to eliminate them can only improve your own operations and the management of your firm. You will get professional advice and assistance on the correction of workplace hazards and benefit from on-site training and assistance provided by the consultant to you and your employees. The consultant can help you establish or strengthen an employee safety and health program, making safety and health activities routine considerations rather than crisis-oriented responses. In many states, employers may participate in the OSHA Consultation SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program).

This program provides incentives and support to smaller, high-hazard employers to develop, implement and continuously improve effective safety and health programs at their worksite(s). The program recognizes employers who have demonstrated exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health by receiving a comprehensive safety and health consultation visit, correcting all workplace safety and health hazards, adopting and implementing effective safety and health management systems, and agreeing to request further consultative visits if major changes in working conditions or processes occur that may introduce new hazards. Employers meeting these specific program requirements may be exempt from general scheduled OSHA inspections for one year.

How To Get Started

Because consultation is a voluntary activity, you must request it. Your telephone call or letter sets the consulting machinery in motion. The consultant will discuss your specific needs with you and set up a visit date based on the priority assigned to your request, your work schedule, and the time needed for the consultant to adequately prepare to serve you. OSHA encourages a complete review of your firm’s safety and health situation; however, if you wish you may limit the visit to one or more specific problems.

The On-Site Consultants Will:

  • Help you recognize hazards in your workplace
  • Suggest general approaches or options for solving a safety or health problem
  • Identify kinds of help available if you need further assistance
  • Provide you a written report summarizing findings
  • Assist you to develop or maintain an effective safety and health program
  • Provide training and education for you and your employees
  • Recommend you for a one-year exclusion from OSHA programmed inspections, once program criteria are met.

The On-Site Consultants Will Not:

  • Issue citations or propose penalties for violations of OSHA standards.
  • Report possible violations to OSHA enforcement staff.
  • Guarantee that your workplace will “pass” an OSHA inspection.

Source: OSHA.gov

OSHA Publishes Weekly Reports on Fatalities and Catastrophes


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun publishing weekly summaries on fatalities and catastrophes (multiple people injured) in the workplace.  Per OSHA regulations, employers must report this data to OSHA within eight hours of an event occurring.  The result of more “open government” within the Obama administration and better access of information by the general public, the reports will provide preliminary information on the cause and result of the incidences.  Once the full investigation is complete, OSHA will update the summaries and the related inspection information, including citations.

You can view the summaries on OSHA’s website HERE.

EPA Hosts Webinar on Spray Foam Initiative

spray_foamThe Environmental Protection Agency hosted over 300 spray foam industry professionals and concerned viewers in an online seminar to introduce the agencies’ collective concerns and involvement with the safety practices and health risks associated with the handling, application, and life cycle usage of spray polyurethane foam.

Involvement included:

  • EPA
  • OSHA
  • CPSC
  • The Center for Polyurethanes Industry, and
  • Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) trade associations

The SPFA reports market growth of up to 40% since 2004. The EPA sited a report indicating that over 400 million pounds of polyurethane foam were consumed in North America during 2008.

The presentation several goals of the EPA initiative:

  • Improve Availability of Safety Information
  • Communicate Best Safety Practices
  • Address Inaccurate and False Marketing Claims
  • Exposure Assessment

According to information made by the EPA, another webinar will be held regarding Spray Foam due to demand.  Stay tuned to OHShub.com for more information.

Source: Sprayfoam.com

Mary Cushmac, from the EPA opened up the meeting with comments about the current situation in the industry as it relates to the government agency’s perspective. She indicated that both the A-side product and B-side products contain both primary and intermediate chemicals of concern, especially if they are mis-handled, or applied incorrectly.