OSHA currently controls over 20 laws that protect workers who file safety complaints against their employer or other employees. In general, whistleblowers are protected against retaliation from their employer. In order to file a whistleblower complaint, 4 key elements must be alleged (from OSHA's website):
- The employee engaged in activity protected by the whistleblower protection law(s) (such as reporting a violation of law);
- The employer knew about, or suspected, that the employee engaged in the protected activity;
- The employer took an adverse action against the employee;
- The employee's protected activity motivated or contributed to the adverse action.
On Friday, OSHA announced that it is revising its online whistleblower complaint form in order to make sure that users are filing complaints with the correct agency. The new complaint form, which is available in English and Spanish will help direct users to the correct agency, if the specific complain is not handled through OSHA, with a series of pop-up windows.
Just as before, whistleblower complaints can also be sent by fax, mail, hand delivery, or by telephone (800-321-6742).
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of 3 different drills manufactured by Black & Decker due to safety concerns.
Just over a year ago, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma blew through Miami, Florida, bringing extremely high speed wind with it. The wind caused 3 cranes to collapse in southern Florida, 2 in downtown Miami and 1 more in Ft. Lauderdale. Interesting video of the dismantling of one of the failed cranes was shared on Youtube.
In September of 2017, OSHA’s new standard on exposure to respirable crystalline silica went into effect in the construction industry. The rule lowered the allowable exposure to the harmful substance to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, a measurement that we’re all familiar with [/sarcasm]. After a full year of enforcement, OSHA is considering making a change to the rule.
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Last week, we shared some newly updated Trenching and Excavation safety information from OSHA, which was part of their priority goals for 2018. Those updates included a public service announcement and updated online resources. The administration has just announced the update of their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on trenching and excavation safety, which features a period of education and prevention outreach.
Earlier this year, it was announced that reducing injuries and deaths caused by trenching and excavation collapses would be a priority goal for OSHA in 2018. The administration planned to achieve this through increased inspection rates, public service announcements (PSA), updating online resources, and creating a better public-private partnership. Recently, OSHA made good on their promise to issue PSAs and update their online resources.
In a time where many industry groups are strongly fighting against new regulations of any kind, more than 130 organizations have co-signed a petition for OSHA to establish a national standard for heat protection across many industries.
As other organizations, like the NTSB, are busy analyzing the root cause of the pedestrian bridge collapse that killed 6 people and injured 8 others in Florida in March, OSHA has finished their investigation and issued safety violations to 5 different contractors.