February 2014

News Briefs

Oregon OSHA warns of scams around posters, consultation

Some businesses in Oregon have been contacted recently by someone claiming to be representing Oregon OSHA, offering help with compliance, selling "kits," and posters for a fee.

"While we do have a requirement for all workplaces to display the 'Safety and Health' poster, they are always free and available on the Oregon OSHA website or by calling us," said Melanie Mesaros, Oregon OSHA public information officer.

Oregon OSHA also offers free and confidential consultations at the request of an employer. The consultant will schedule a time to visit and assess company hazards but never charge for the service.

"If they threaten that OSHA will do an inspection, they aren't legitimate," Mesaros said. "Businesses by law are never given prior notice for routine inspections."

There have also been reports of someone calling employers and informing them they had signed up for an "OSHA" type service and they have not paid for it.

If you feel you were the target of an OSHA scam, you can file a complaint with the Oregon Attorney General's Office or call the consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392 (toll-free).

Employers encouraged to share prevention message as flu activity increases

Oregon OSHA is reminding employers to focus on prevention efforts as reports of flu cases continue to rise statewide.

Effective hand washing (at least 30 seconds) and getting vaccinated with the flu shot are some of the best ways to stop the virus from spreading, said Penny Wolf-McCormick, Oregon OSHA's health enforcement manager in Portland. She stresses the importance of encouraging sick employees to stay home.

"If someone is sick and contagious, it's not going to help your work product if germs are spread to others in the workplace," Wolf-McCormick said.

Employers can also be proactive by putting up posters or flyers that reinforce ways to manage flu prevention. For more information or to download flu season resources, go to or

Employers invited to celebrate Safety Break for Oregon

Oregon OSHA is encouraging employers across Oregon to promote safety and health in their workplace during Safety Break for Oregon on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Employers can participate by hosting a safety training, award recognition event, or hands-on demonstrations.

The one-day event is designed to raise awareness and promote the value of safety and health in preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Participation is voluntary and the event is flexible so employers can determine what activities are beneficial to their workforce.

"Employers can use this day to have an impact on the future of their workers' safety and health," said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator. "It's a great time to celebrate safety achievements, have fun with training, or start a conversation about safety and health goals."

Safety Break encourages employees and management to work together on identifying safety and health concerns. The result of this cooperation can lead to fewer injuries and reduced workers' compensation costs for employers.

Companies planning to participate will be entered to win one of three $100 pizza luncheons when they sign up online by Friday, May 9. The prizes will be given to participating companies as part of a random drawing. The Oregon SHARP Alliance is sponsoring the contest.

For more information, ideas on how to host an event, or to download graphics, go the Safety Break for Oregon website.

English and Spanish GHS training tools now available

Oregon OSHA has added new training on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for chemical hazard communication to its online offerings.

A PESO training module, where the text is identical in English and Spanish (English text on the left-facing page with the Spanish text on the mirroring page), is one of several new trainings in the GHS category. The bilingual training module is designed as a 30- to 60-minute program that can easily be taught on site.

"This module includes the first-of-its-kind glossary of over 300 GHS terms in English and Spanish," said Tomas Schwabe, Oregon OSHA's public education instructor. "We included terms such as 'Target Organ Toxicity' – 'Toxicidad Específica de Órganos Diana,' which can be tricky to translate."

Tailgate sheets summarize key points for quick reference on the job and overhead slides accompany the module.

Oregon OSHA also has an interactive app that provides information about the new formats for labels, pictograms, and safety data sheets. It's intended primarily for employees who use smartphones and other mobile devices. Employees who may be exposed to chemicals were to be trained on the new GHS requirements (label elements and safety data sheet format) by Dec. 1, 2013. Other rule requirements will be carried out through 2016.

Download the PESO GHS, other training modules, videos, and app on the Oregon OSHA website.

Annual pulp, paper, and forest products industry safety conference held in Portland

Northwest pulp and paper industry workers and managers attended a conference Dec. 3-6, 2013, in Jantzen Beach designed to tackle the safety and health issues specific to their industries.

The keynote speaker was Georgia Pacific CEO and President Jim Hannan who presented "Making Safety a Value" on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Hannan talked about the company's ongoing safety focus and the importance of Georgia Pacific's culture and employee training.

Pulp, Paper, and Forest Products conference keynote

"We've got a long way to go and nothing makes it clearer than people getting hurt in our facilities," Hannan said of the company's improvement journey.

Hannan told attendees the health and safety of employees has to become a key value and go beyond just being compliant. He offered these tips to achieving that goal:

  1. Company culture: Safety values can't just exist at a company's headquarters, but need to permeate all levels
  2. Leadership commitment and employee engagement: Support your safety programs with resources and actions
  3. Risk management: Perform safety audits and bring in fresh eyes to review processes

The conference featured four days of workshops, covering topics such as combustible dust, near-miss best practices, lockout/tagout, and machine guarding.

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