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May 04, 2022
OSHA unveils food industry emphasis program

On April 22, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a newly issued Local Emphasis Program (LEP) for food processing facilities in Wisconsin. The OSHA outreach, inspection, and enforcement program is aimed at addressing machine and amputation hazards in food manufacturing facilities.

From 2014 to 2020, OSHA investigated multiple fatalities, dozens of amputations, fractures, and workers with crushed hands or fingers in the state. Agency inspectors found lockout/tagout (control of hazardous energy) or machine guarding violations at the facilities.

Food production workers in Wisconsin experience a nearly 24 percent higher injury rate than workers in other production facilities in the state, according to the agency.

“The food production industry continues to be staffed in part by seasonal and temporary laborers who may not be fully aware of their rights or they may be afraid to communicate safety concerns,” William Donovan, OSHA’s Chicago regional administrator, said in an agency statement.

OSHA will begin the LEP with outreach to apprenticeship programs, employers, local hospitals and occupational health clinics, local safety councils, and professional associations. Agency personnel also will make presentations to industry organizations and other stakeholders.

The emphasis program is aimed at Wisconsin’s 900 food manufacturers that employ 19,000 workers who preserve and process animal products, fruits, and vegetables on a seasonal and year-round basis. Inspections will focus on machine hazards during production activities; potential contact with corrosive chemicals and hot and cold equipment; and off-shift sanitation, service, and maintenance activities.

Region 8 silica enforcement begins

The enforcement phase of a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) for silica exposure hazards in the cut stone and stone products industry begins on May 17, OSHA’s Region 8 office in Denver announced. Region 8 includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Utah and Wyoming are state plan states with their own occupational safety and health programs.

Over the past 10 years, cut stone and stone products manufacturing has had the highest documented overexposures to respirable crystalline silica in the region, according to the agency. The REP also addresses crushing and struck-by hazards during the handling of granite, limestone, marble, slate, and other stone slabs, as well as noise hazard exposures.

The REP will include inspections of establishments with 10 or fewer employees.

“This Regional Emphasis Program on silica addresses serious health and safety hazards and enhances our focus on ensuring that industry employers comply with OSHA requirements,” Jennifer Rous, OSHA’s Denver regional administrator, said in an agency statement.

“Inhaling elevated levels of respirable crystalline silica without proper protection increases the risk of contracting multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disabling or fatal injuries.”

As part of the February 8 REP, OSHA already has conducted outreach efforts that have included presentations, webinars, mass mailings of letters and/or e-mails about the REP and silica hazards, and offers of compliance assistance.

The REP will be administered by OSHA’s Billings, Montana; Bismarck, North Dakota; Denver and Englewood, Colorado; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, area offices.

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