December 2014

News Briefs

Oregon OSHA updates confined space rule

Oregon OSHA has adopted changes to the confined space rule to include the construction industry. The new rule replaces a 2012 version that was never enforced because of concerns stakeholders raised after its adoption. With the new rule in place, construction employers will need to comply beginning March 1, 2015.

"It's important that workers in construction have the same protections from confined spaces that exist in general industry," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. "Confined spaces are unforgiving. People aren't just injured in them; they are killed."

Confined spaces, such as tanks, wells, or tunnels, have limited means to exit, may contain potentially harmful material, and are not intended for human habitation. Workplace safety rules require employers to take proper precautions when their employees must work in such spaces. Oregon OSHA enforces those rules. The relatively minor changes to the general industry requirements take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

There are several exemptions in the rule, including the majority of excavation work. However, excavation work is not exempt when workers must enter a sewer space. The rule is similar to what was originally proposed in July 2014, with the only significant change being that employers need to identify only their permit-required confined spaces, rather than all confined spaces.

Click here for more information on the adopted confined space rule. End

Original article - Nov. 3, 2014

Oregon OSHA to tackle recordkeeping rule changes

Oregon OSHA will address changes to the federal recordkeeping requirements through its own rulemaking. The division is working with stakeholders to create a rule proposal over the next few months.

"We will need to change the Oregon rule in order to be at least as effective as the federal rule, but we're still hammering out the details of our own proposal," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. "For the time being, the Oregon rules are unchanged."

Under the current Oregon rule, employers must report an overnight hospitalization within 24 hours and a fatality within eight hours. In that respect, the federal rules more closely align with the existing Oregon rule.

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, federal OSHA's changes to its Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements include an update to the list of industries whose low injury and illness rates make them partially exempt from maintaining injury and illness logs. This exemption does not affect the reporting requirements that are addressed by the remainder of the rulemaking, however. End

Oregon OSHA offers tips for working safely in winter weather

Winter storms that bring ice, snow, and heavy rain can make some jobs even more dangerous for workers, especially if they are not prepared. Oregon OSHA encourages employers to assess hazards before Mother Nature strikes.

Gary Beck, Oregon OSHA's statewide safety manager, said employers should consider putting off certain activities, such as going on a rooftop, if conditions are too severe.

"It's important to discuss with employees whether it is absolutely necessary to accomplish that task during poor conditions and consider whether they have the appropriate clothing and gear," he said.

Winter Kit

If driving is part of an employee's job duties, Beck said they should be trained on how to handle situations such as steering out of skids and putting on tire chains.

"If an accident occurs, Oregon OSHA will ask questions during the investigation, such as 'How did you plan or train your people to work in these conditions?'" Beck said.

Another danger, particularly for warehouse workers or anyone in an enclosed space is a carbon monoxide exposure. Many gas or propane heaters are not intended for indoor use (check the piece of equipment for a sticker or the manual for guidance).

Find fact sheets for working in winter weather and other hazardous conditions here.End

Workers' compensation rates for Oregon businesses among the lowest in nation

Oregon's workers' compensation rates continue to be among the lowest in the nation, according to data released by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS).

The biennial study ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on rates that were in effect Jan. 1, 2014. Oregon had the ninth least expensive rates in 2014, an improvement from its ranking as the 13th least expensive state the last time the study was done, in 2012. DCBS recently announced that Oregon workers' compensation rates would decline further – an average 5.3 percent – in 2015.

map showing rate levels across nation

"Consistently low workers' compensation rates have been an important factor in creating a positive business climate in Oregon," said Patrick Allen, DCBS director. "A strong commitment by all in the workers' compensation community has helped keep costs down while improving outcomes for workers."

The study shows California had the most expensive rates, followed by Connecticut. North Dakota had the least expensive rates. In the Pacific Northwest, Idaho's rates were the 14th most expensive, followed by Washington.

Oregon researchers also compared each state's rates to the national median (midpoint) rate of $1.85 per $100 of payroll. Oregon's rate of $1.37 is 27 percent below the median.

Because states have various mixes of industries, the study calculates rates for each state using a standard mix of the 50 industries with the highest workers' compensation claims costs in Oregon. Details about how the study was conducted can be found here. A summary of the study was posted today; the full report will be published later this year.

Oregon has conducted these studies in even-numbered years since 1986, when Oregon's rates were among the highest in the nation. The department reports the results to the Oregon Legislature as a performance measure. Oregon's relatively low rate today reflects the state's workers' compensation system reforms and its improvements in workplace safety and health.

To read a summary of the study, go here. End

Calculate fall distance with new online application

An interactive online application is now available to educate workers about fall distance. The tool, created by Oregon OSHA, shows workers how far they could fall and free fall when using a shock-absorbing lanyard. The tool includes three scenarios, each with a 6-foot shock-absorbing lanyard and a 3.5-foot shock absorber. Download it here. End

Contest poster

"Speak up. Work safe." video contest opens to Oregon students

The annual "Speak up. Work safe." video contest is now open to high school students across Oregon. The top three entries will take home cash prizes ranging from $300 to $500, and students will earn a matching amount for their school.

In the past, student winners wrote and sang original music as part of their "safety musical," while other finalists relied on storytelling through quirky characters or serious themes that touched on the potential for on-the-job accidents.

The contest is designed to increase awareness about safety on the job for young people. Students must create a 90-second or less video with the overall theme of "Speak up. Work safe." Specific video guidelines are outlined in the contest rules. Participants are encouraged to use creative moviemaking techniques, while sharing the message "Work shouldn't cost you your future." In addition, the video should emphasize ways for young workers to protect themselves on the job. Submissions will be judged on the following:

  • An original health and safety message that appeals to teen workers and safety educators
  • Overall production value (video/audio quality, acting, and editing)
  • "Speak up. Work safe." theme is used effectively

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 2, 2015.

The contest is organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]). Oregon OSHA, SAIF Corporation, local chapters of the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Hoffman Construction, Central Oregon Safety & Health Association, the Labor Education and Research Center, the SHARP Alliance, Oregon Health Authority, the Construction Safety Summit, Northern Lights Theater, and SafeBuild Alliance sponsor the contest.

For detailed contest information, including contest tips, rules, and entry forms, go to To see the 2014 winning videos, go here. End

Original article - Oct. 21, 2014

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If you missed the chance to offer your feedback during the survey, send your comments to Resource editor Melanie Mesaros at End

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