National Safety Council News and Alerts, 2/13/09



Congress again pushes for combustible dust bill

House Democrats reintroduced a bill that would force OSHA to promulgate a rule regulating combustible dust.

The Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act of 2009 (H.R. 849) was introduced Feb. 4 by Reps. George Miller (D-CA), John Barrow (D-GA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

The bill comes one day after six workers were injured in a coal dust blast at a Milwaukee power plant, and nearly one year after a sugar dust explosion that killed 14 workers at the Imperial Sugar facility in Port Wentworth, GA.

“While OSHA turned a blind eye to this issue under President [George W.] Bush, I know that the new administration will confront this threat with the urgency that it deserves,” Woolsey said in a statement. Obama has, in the past, expressed support for a combustible dust standard.

An identical bill was introduced and passed in the House in the previous Congress last year in a 247-165 vote. It was referred to the Senate in May, but never made it out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

MSHA issues alert on man lifts, bucket trucks

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety hazard alert (.pdf file) to provide guidance for workers who use man lifts and bucket trucks.

Since 1995, 13 workers have died from incidents associated with the devices, including five fatalities at coal mines, MSHA said. The fatalities resulted from falls, rollovers, electrocutions and crushing incidents, the agency said, noting that man lifts and bucket trucks are different types of equipment but often are used for the same purpose and have similar hazards.

MSHA advises workers to use equipment only for its intended purpose and to operate in tight quarters only when stated in the manufacturer’s recommendations.


International conference focuses on road safety

Highway safety experts from around the world will gather in Washington Feb. 16-18 to discuss strategies to prevent roadway traffic crashes – the leading cause of workplace death and injury.

The International Conference on Road Safety at Work (.pdf file) is the first international conference dedicated to preventing roadway traffic crashes. Experts from government, business, labor, the research community and the National Safety Council will be present.

The event is co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, International Labor Organization and U.S. Department of State.


Home filled with danger for teens: study

The home can be a very dangerous place for adolescents, according to a study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

According to a study abstract, psychologists from UAB inspected the homes of a diverse sample of 42 teens age 14-16 and found:

29 percent of homes had an unlocked firearm. 15 percent of rifles and 18 percent of handguns were stored loaded. 31 percent of homes had unsecured alcohol. 21 percent had exposed electrical cords. 6 percent had unlocked fireworks. More than 90 percent had no working carbon monoxide detector. According to the researchers, more than 30 percent of fatal injuries sustained by adolescents occur in the home.

Results were published in the January issue of International Emergency Nursing.